Larry Graham - bass, vocals; Patrice "Chocolate" Banks - drum machine, percussion, vocals; Robert "Butch" Sam - organ, vocals; David "Dynamite" Vega - guitar, vocals; Hershall "Happiness" Kennedy - clavinet; Manuel "The Deacon" Kellough - drums
Graham Central Station was one of the more popular pure funk bands of the mid '70s, led by pioneering ex-Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham. Following the general formula that had made his former band so successful, Graham and his ensemble created funk and soul-driven music that had both a definite edge and also an accessibility - and caught the ear of radio listeners and hard core funk fans alike.
Larry Graham is universally acknowledged as the father of the string slapping and finger popping bass technique. His pioneering efforts on Sly and the Family Stone recordings had a profound influence on countless bands from diverse genres, from the likes of Miles Davis and Parliament/Funkadelic, to the contemporary artists like Prince and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Performing at 10:00 in the morning, Graham Central Station takes a high energy approach that must have gotten many attendees up and moving. Graham mixes in a few bass licks from "I Want To Take You Higher" as they begin the set with the hot funk of "The Jam," which serves as an introduction of the band members.
With impressive musicianship and strong vocal leads by Graham and Patrice Banks, Graham Central Station engages the audience for almost an hour of funky, feel-good dance music. Much of the best material from the group's first two albums is represented, including their debut single, "Can You Handle It," the a cappella doo-wop of "We've Been Waiting" and the song that seems to sum up the band's philosophy, "Release Yourself."
The set closes with two extended jams. The social commentary of "People," with its messages of equality, is followed by a medley based on "It Ain't No Fun To Me" that includes several separate funk workouts within.
Larry Graham is impressive, as is the entire band, on this set. Their exuberant brand of funk would dilute as the years progressed, but in 1975, as this set clearly demonstrates, they were one of the most engaging funk bands around and would influence countless other bands right to the present day - just plug in for proof.