Funk Off: Mark, Don & Terry, 1966-1967

Terry Knight & the Pack

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Funk Off: Mark, Don & Terry, 1966-1967 Review

by Richie Unterberger

This 21-song double LP does not include everything by Terry Knight & the Pack, missing some early pre-"Mr. You're a Better Man Than I" singles and other stray tracks. However, it does contain the bulk of their output, including their best-known singles: "Mr. You're a Better Man Than I," "I (Who Have Nothing)," "A Change on the Way," "This Precious Time," and "Numbers." Judging from the contents, Knight's strategy largely consisted of trying to ride a bandwagon by imitating specific trends or artists of the day, either with cover versions or (more often) his own retreads of ideas already proven successful in the marketplace. Over the course of two albums, the march of ready comparisons becomes almost comical. "Dimestore Debutante?" "Like a Rolling Stone"-era Bob Dylan. "I've Been Told?" The Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire." "Numbers?" The Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction" with a dash of Paul Revere and the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things." "Dirty Lady?" Donovan. (Somehow Knight's Lovin' Spoonful mimic, the B-side "What's on Your Mind," escaped inclusion, although you can hear it on Michigan Nuggets, a bootleg compilation of obscure '60s Michigan rock.) "Forever and a Day?" Broadway musicals, believe it or not. That's not to say this anthology is terrible. The records were well-produced, and the playing competent (although the annotation does not make it clear which tracks might be Terry Knight solo, without the Pack). And "A Change on the Way," a minor-key folk-rocker with a utopian '60s message of a new evolutionary dawn approaching, is actually pretty good, even if it was no doubt contrived. Although this out-of-print comp is hard to find, it's probably the easiest way to hear Knight & the Pack's legacy, since much of their back catalog is tied up in the vaults of Cameo-Parkway, a label which has reissued little of its holdings on CD. That's a shame, as the sound quality and mastering on this vinyl anthology could have been better. Note: the record is titled Funk-Off (Sic) 1966-1967 on the front cover, just Funk-Off on the spine, and Mark, Don & Terry 1966-1967 on the center labels of the LPs, so the collection could be identified under any or all of those titles in discographies.