Among my bucket list to-do’s includes spray-painting “Mel is God” on the Islington Station underground.
Utter the name Melvin George Schacher to rock bassists of my generation and most will immediately lower their body and bend on one knee in reverence.
An icon of the instrument in a hard rock format -Schacher’s array of tones, phrasing, motifs, and stage demeanor forever define heavy blue-collar American rock and roll.
Though Mark Farner and Don Brewer were the writers, it was Mel’s signature bass artistry which characterized Funk’s canon. Utilizing his index fingernail as a plectrum, early slabs including On Time (1969), Closer to Home (1970), the unabashedly brash Live (1970), and E Pluribus Funk (1971) are all showcases for Mel’s explosive passages – which actually serve as hooks for compositions that were essentially improvisational platforms.
Mel’s playing became progressively refined as Flint’s finest morphed from hard rockers to pop stars on such albums as: We’re An American Band (1973), Shinin’ On (1974), All The Girls In the World Beware (1975), and the Frank Zappa production Good Singin’ Good Playin’ (1976).
Tracks including “Got This Thing On the Move,” “Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother,” “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home,” “Aimless Lady,” “Upsetter,” “Shinin’ On,” “Into the Sun,” “All The Girls In the World Beware” – to cite a few, are the work of a virtuoso.
Mel is still on and off the road with a revamped version of Grand Funk sans Farner and Frost. Beloved by fans, reviled by the so-called rock media in their commercial heyday – I can’t imagine how many American teenagers heard Mel on Grand Funk (1969) aka “Red Album” and decided that’s what they wanted to do in life.