Capitol Records launched a midline-priced series called Classic Masters and the 2002 entry for Grand Funk Railroad is meant to appeal to the casual fan. It is intended to replace 1991's Capitol Collectors Series title -- an earlier budget line from the label -- although track-wise it's identical except for one song. Both have 15 cuts, but Classic Masters includes "Take Me" whereas Capitol Collectors Series has "Inside Looking Out." Looking back, it's amazing to realize just how enormously popular these Michigan hard-rockers were in the late '60s and early '70s. For Grand Funk Railroad, popular meant populist blue-collar appeal, and vocalist/guitarist Mark Farner, bass guitarist Mel Schacher, and drummer/vocalist Don Brewer (and, later on, keyboardist Craig Frost) were despised by critics, of course. The merits of anthems like "We're an American Band," "I'm Your Captain/Closer to Home," and the cover "The Loco-Motion" are obvious, but a compilation such as Classic Masters enables deeper appreciation of songs like "Time Machine," "Shinin' On," "Mean Mistreater" (recorded live in 1970 at the Atlanta International Pop Festival), and "Bad Time." Classic Masters is 24-bit digitally remastered, whereas Capitol Collectors Series is credited as being mastered from the original two-track stereo mixes; Classic Masters should be considered the superior collection sound-wise (although it's not as if Grand Funk Railroad's records were as sonically complex as Pink Floyd's), but Capitol Collectors Series has better liner notes. Capitol is to be commended for its overdue CD reissues of Grand Funk Railroad's catalog, but Classic Masters is an excellent sampler die-hard fans like Homer Simpson would approve of.
AllMusic Review by Bret Adams