Saturday, 7 October 2017
Oliver!: Monster Magnet - Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother (28 March 1992)
Like a dope, I missed the 1970s episodes of The Evolution of John Peel. My suspicions that it would be nothing more than a John Peel greatest hits of the decade proving to be spectacularly wide of the mark. At least with reference to this track, there was nothing from Grand Funk Railroad featuring in the programme, offering little clue as to why Peel gave airtime to covers of their tunes through late 1991/early 1992. Grotus missed out with me on their version of We’re An American Band but three months on, Monster Magnet make the metaphorical mixtape with their version of Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother, the opening track on GFR’s 1970 album, Closer to Home.
Dispensing with the acoustic opening section and clocking in at a minute less than the original, Monster Magnet do a great job of conjuring up the mythical rock preacher sound in this song with its reflections on how good and evil are two sides of the same coin and calls for revolution - topic of the day in 1970 and seemingly acted out by 1992. But ultimately everything is subservient to the riff that drives the track and which sets everything on course with the false ending and subsequent race to the end of the track. The 16 year old me would have lapped that riffage up, though whether it would have inspired me to seek out the source material is a moot point. Because, in my ignorance (and I am still moored in it) Grand Funk Railroad are one of those band names that can fatigue me without hearing a note - see also the likes of The Eagles, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Chicago Transit Authority (later just known as Chicago). Just to look at the names conjures up images of triple or quadruple albums, guitar solos that go on for three hours and grim musicality. Are they justified opinions to hold without having sampled much of any of their music? No, of course they aren’t, and in Grand Funk Railroad’s case, they were hugely influential on a number of 90s bands. In Monster Magnet’s case it fed towards their 1991 album, Spine of God, which managed to be thrilling, intriguing and irritating sometimes all within the space of the same track. It’s my hope that those bands I’ve just slandered managed to be equally diverse when the time comes for me to hear them. In the meantime, the John Peel quarterly meeting of the Order of the Grand Funk Railroad cover will hopefully reconvene in June 1992.
Videos courtesy of P.P. (Monster Magnet) and drwu1975 (Grand Funk Railroad)