Graham Central Station – 1974 – Release Yourself

graham central station release yourself front

Graham Central Station followed up its debut album rather swiftly with ‘Release Yourself’. But in contrast to the looseness and somewhat ‘laissez-faire’ attitude of that self-titled first LP, this sophomore effort is much more polished and ecclectic. Patryce ‘Choc’let’ Banks remembered that where ‘Graham Central Station’ was cut ‘live’ in the studio, ‘Release Yourself’ was the premier GCS waxing that went through considerable overdubbing. It’s also the first GCS album that has labelmates Tower of Power providing the horns.

Tracks
A1 G.C.S. 3:34
A2 Release yourself 4:46
A3 Got to Go Through It to Get to It 3:46
A4 I Believe in You 5:00
B1 ‘Tis Your Kind of Music 5:43
B2 Hey Mr. Writer 4:03
B3 Feel the Need 3:57
B4 Today 6:43

graham central station release yourself back

In that respect, the smelly, laidback funk of the debut album is replaced here with more refined tunes. That’s not to say that ‘Release Yourself’ is a sterile or – heaven forbid – grooveless affair; it’s just a bit more sophisticated in its execution.

As it had done on its first LP, the band first introduces itself, this time via the quirky “GCS”, with every member briefly dropping in.

The title-track is one of GCS’s finest achievements; a country-fried, gospel-rock excursion that is all over the place: high energy back-to-church funk smothered in droning horns.

Then there is some vicious gutbucket, laidback, slow-grinding funk on “I Believe In You“, where the emphasis is on both Larry’s beastly bass riffs and the embryonic drum-machine that Sly Stone had used extensively on his ‘Riot’. In fact, the breakdown here sounds somewhat similar to the one in “Thank You Falettin’ Me Be Mice Elf Egin”. Also noteworthy on this tune are Robert Sam’s gloomy, churchy organ licks and Hershall’s sleazy synth work-out.

“‘Tis Your Kind of Music” is of an entirely different order: a truly weird latin/funk venture that’s seductive in its minimalistic approach. Hershall is the star here wailing away on the synthesizer, with the funk box providing a hypnotic, mid-tempo groove. Patryce and Larry swap some downhome chants here, but its mostly a sensuous, somewhat ominous sounding semi-instrumental. Trippy, man.

graham central station release yourself label 1

With a frantic cover of The Detroit Emeralds’ “Feel the Need” GCS scored its biggest hit off the album, and rightfully so. This is early Graham Central Station at its finest: sheer energy and exuberance set to a wild, funky rhythm laced with spacey keyboard lines and all propelled by Larry’s indomitable handling of the bass.

But it’s also an angry album. While it certainly didn’t create any waves like the Lennon/McCartney vendetta did, Graham’s love and hate affair with his erstwhile boss Sly Stone, which is evident throughout here, was just as fierce.

He is respectful and thankful towards him on the gimmicky rocker “Hey Mister Writer“, where he thanks God for having met him. On the equally rollicking “Got to Go Through It to Get to It” – a favorite Sly Stone expression – the mood is considerably less warm, with Larry speaking of having ‘paid his dues’ to make a certain some one a ‘star’.

The most vitriol however is saved for “Today“, a lurching, mid-tempo funk beast that is a no-holds-barred attack on Sly and his then recent very public marriage to Kate Silva. “Living with you is hell”, Larry sings, while wishing ‘him’ filthy rich with his new dish. Also: “You have the nerve to pity me?”… a reference to Sly Stone’s “Better Thee Than Me”?????    

In all, not a straight forward funk jam as the debut LP was, but a hybrid of soul, gospel, rock that works on all fronts.

Buy the Album

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20 Comments
  • S.M.
    Posted at 11:14h, 21 February 2017 Reply

    Funk and nothing but the Funk

  • RossB
    Posted at 13:39h, 21 February 2017 Reply

    Golden 70’s Soul and Funk. thank you.

  • Edgar
    Posted at 12:29h, 22 February 2017 Reply

    Essential post! Thanks a lot.

  • Keith
    Posted at 13:53h, 22 February 2017 Reply

    Old school is definitely in da house with this classic from 1974. To you young folks out there, this is what excellent music is ALL about!!

  • Scott
    Posted at 13:57h, 23 February 2017 Reply

    yassss

  • Burt
    Posted at 18:56h, 23 February 2017 Reply

    Excellent choice once again.

  • Grover
    Posted at 09:56h, 24 February 2017 Reply

    Timeless jam Yeaahh..

  • Chiles
    Posted at 14:25h, 24 February 2017 Reply

    Doesn’t get much better than this. 

  • Andre
    Posted at 19:45h, 24 February 2017 Reply

    This is the definition of Power Funk!

  • Nick
    Posted at 19:46h, 24 February 2017 Reply

    larry is the king ….love his older stuff!

  • Rene
    Posted at 11:38h, 25 February 2017 Reply

    That’s some funky shit right there baby…

  • Eric the king
    Posted at 11:44h, 25 February 2017 Reply

    Almost forgot that I bought this album when it first came out, can’t deny his bass guitar, totally awesome

  • Steve Barton
    Posted at 12:09h, 25 February 2017 Reply

    Body movin bass bumpin music!

  • Adam
    Posted at 16:10h, 25 February 2017 Reply

    Memories, sweet memories, the power of Music.

  • Foster
    Posted at 19:34h, 25 February 2017 Reply

    Absolutely groovin baby.

  • Desperado
    Posted at 11:53h, 26 February 2017 Reply

    Nice to find these somewhat obscure but truly outstanding albums.

  • Motorhead
    Posted at 12:12h, 26 February 2017 Reply

    Stunning funk LP.. Love u Funkmysoul.

  • Gadar
    Posted at 19:50h, 26 February 2017 Reply

    Thanks for sharing these wonders with us all.

  • daevidflowers
    Posted at 16:22h, 01 March 2017 Reply

    link doesnt’ work…please help!

  • Nikos
    Posted at 22:02h, 01 March 2017 Reply

    Link works fine.

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