Jefferson Airplane


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1965-66)

- Signe Anderson (aka Signe Toly) -- vocals 

- Marty Balin -- vocals

- Bob Harvey -- bass 

- Paul Kantner -- vocals, guitar

- Jorma Kaukonen -- lead guitar 

 

  line up ? (1971-72)

- Jack Casady -- bass 

NEW - Joey Covington -- vocals, drums, percussion  (replaced 

  Spencer Dryden)

NEW - Papa John Creach -- violin

- Paul Kantner -- vocals, guitar 

- Jorma Kaukonen -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Grace Slick -- vocals 

 

  line up ? (1972-73)

NEW- John Barbata -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Joey Covington) 

- Papa John Creach -- violin 

- Paul Kantner -- vocals, guitar

- Jorma Kaukonen -- vocals, lead guitar

- Sammy Piazza -- drums, percussion

- Grace Slick -- vocals

 

  line up ? (1973)

- John Barbata -- drums, percussion

- Papa John Creach -- violin 

NEW - David Freiberg -- vocals, bass

- Paul Kantner -- vocals, guitar

- Jorma Kaukonen -- vocals, lead guitar

- Grace Slick -- vocals

 

 

 

 

 

- Signe Anderson (aka Signe Toly) -- vocals (1965-66)

- Marty Balin -- vocals (1965-71, 89)

- John Barbata -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Joey Covington) (1972-73)

- Jack Casady -- bass (replaced Bob Harvey) (1965-73) 89

- Joey Covington -- vocals, drums, percussion 

  (replaced Spencer Dryden) (1970-72)

- Papa John Creach -- violin (1972-73)

- Spencer Dryden -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Skip Spence) (1966-70)

- David Freiberg -- vocals, bass (replaced Jack Casady)

  (1972-73)

- Bob Harvey -- bass (1965)

- Paul Kantner -- vocals, guitar (1965-73 89)

- Jorma Kaukonen -- lead guitar (1965-73 89)

- Jerry Peloquin -- drums, percussion (1965)

- Grace Slick -- vocals (replaced Signe Anderson) 

  (1966-73 89)

- Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- drums, percussion (replaced

  Jerry Peloquin) (1965-66)

 


 

- Marty Balin (solo efforts)

- Bodacious D.F (Marty Balin)

- Joey Covington (solo efforts)

- The Great Society (Grace Slick)

- Papa John Creach (solo efforts)

- Hot Tuna (Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen)

- Jefferson Starship

- Paul Kantner (solo efforts)

- Jorma Kaukonen  (solo efforts)

- Moby Grape (Skip Spence)

- Quicksilver Messenger Service (David Freiberg)

- Grace Slick (solo efforts)

- Skip Spence (solo efforts)

- Starship

- The Turtles (Joey Barbata)

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Worst of Jefferson Airplane

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: LSP-4459

Year: 1970

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4706

Price: $8.00

Cost: $66.00

 

Their first compilation, 1970's "The Worst of Jefferson Airplane" pulled together 15 tracks from their first six album (covering "Takes Off" through "Volunteers").  While it wasn't the perfect retrospective, the album served as a nice introduction to Airplane line-ups one and two.  You also got a decent feel for the musical interests of each of the major players (Marty Balin, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick).  While getting people to agree on the perfect  track selection would be impossible (I'd point out there was no 'Wooden Ships'), there were no major surprises here and on the whole it made for a nice way to get an occasional Airplane fix while allowing you to avoid the filler and throwaway crap that cluttered much of the original records.  It certainly sold well, hitting # 12 on the charts.


"The Worst of The Jefferson Airplane" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) It's No Secret  (Marty Balin) - 2:37

2.) Blues from an Airplane  (Marty Balin - Skip Spence) - 2:10

3.) Somebody To Love   (Grace Slick - Darby Slick) - 2:54

4.) Today   (Marty Balin - Paul Kantner) - 2:57

5.) White Rabbit   (Grace Slick) - 2:27

6.) Embryonic Journey (instrumental)   (Jorma Kaukonan - 1:51

7.) Martha  (Paul Kantner) - 3:21

8.) The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil  (Paul Kantner) - 4:30

 

(side 2)
1.) Crown of Creation  (Paul Kantner) - 2:53

2.) Chushingura   (Spencer Dryden) - 1:17

3.) Lather   (Grace Slick) - 2:55

4.) Plastic Fantastic Lover   (Marty Balin) - 3:39

5.) Good Shepherd (traditional - arranged by Jorma Kaukonan - 4:22

6.) We Can Be Together  (Paul Kantner) - 5:50

7.) Volunteers   (Marty Balin - Paul Kantner) - 2:03

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Bark

Company: Grunt

Catalog: FTR-1001

Year: 1971

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes original outer paper bag and lyric insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5504

Price: $25.00

 

1971 found the Jefferson Airplane at the end of their long term contract with RCA Victor.  The band started looking for a new deal, but ultimately ended up renewing with RCA with the understanding that they'd be allowed to start their own custom label - Grunt.  The recording sessions were apparently trying.  In addition to the band's standard alcohol and drug issues, the group underwent a string of personnel issues.  Marty Balin was the first to go, subsequently reappearing as lead vocalist for Bodacious D.F.  Next to head out the door was drummer Spencer Dryden.  Joey Covington was brought in as his replacement.  The line-up was further expanded with the addition of violin player Papa John Creach (who was a good generation older than the rest of the band).  Adding to mix of problems, Slick became a mom during the recording session and was then involved in a near fatal traffic accident while driving her Mercedes.   

inner sleeve

 

Given all of those issues, the fact they managed to pull together something as good as 1971's "Bark" was almost miraculous.  Long two of the band's creative mainstays Paul Kantner and Slick both turned in some of their best efforts.  Kantner's activist 'When the Earth Moves Again' was better than anything on his solo albums.  Slick shined on 'Crazy Miranda'.  That said, the biggest surprise came in the form of longstanding guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's contributions.  Possibly inspired by the recent outside successes he and Jack Casady had enjoyed with Hot Tuna, Kaukonen stepped into the limelight with four contributions including the killer rocker 'Feel So Good' which would have made a dandy single and the acoustic ballad 'Third Week In the Chelsea' which was apparently a lament reflecting his growing disenchantment with the band and the rock and roll lifestyle.  Not only did Kaukonen showcase his writing skills, but he also stepped into the vocal spotlight sharing leads with Slick on 'Third Week In the Chelsea'.  As for the highlights, the bluesy 'Pretty As You Feel' featured Carlos Santana on lead guitar with drummer Covington and Slick sharing lead vocals. The LP wasn't perfect.  The decision to recruit violinist Creach into the band wasn't necessarily a bad idea, but his shrill instrumental colorings didn't do a great deal for me and showcasing him on the instrumental 'Wild Turkey' was a questionable decision. Kantner's 'War Movie' indicated the combination of his penchant for sci-fi and illicit drugs had gone seriously astray. Slick's 'Never Argue with a German If You're Tired or European Song' was in the running for worst Airplane song of all time.  Covington's 'Thunk' was just bad.  Finally be forewarned the LP had a strange, tinny echoic sound.  Hard to accurately describe it, but it gave parts of the LP an irritating almost metallic edge.  Blame the band since they produced the collection.   

"Bark" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) When the Earth Moves Again   (Paul Kantner) - 3:51

To be honest, 'When the Earth Moves Again' is one of the sloppiest performances you'll ever hear.  Slick and Kantner sounded like they were screaming the lyrics at the top of their lungs, rather than singing, and Papa John Creach's screeching violin served to make the results even shriller.  And then there were Kantner's weird lyrics - I've seen all kinds of stories about the tunes meaning, though I'll vote for the plotline having to do with the transfer of power from one generation to the next.  And against this backdrop there's something fascinating about this aural mess.   rating: **** stars

2.) Feel So Good   (Jorma Kaukonen) - 4:35

With Marty Balin having bailed (LOL), Kaukonen got a chance at the spotlight. Anyone who thought he was incapable of anything other than ponderous blues moves needed to take a listen to this blazing rocker.  Kicked along by some blazing Kaukonen's slinky voice (he reminded me of Dr. John on this one), and some fantastic wah wah moves, this was one of the best rockers the band ever recorded.     rating: **** stars

3.) Crazy Miranda   (Grace Slick) - 3:21

Dark and slightly disturbing tune, though it had a pretty melody and Slick actually sounded pretty good on this one; forgoing some of the vocal excesses that plagued much of her work.   rating; *** stars

4.) Pretty As You Feel    (Joey Covington - Jack Casady - Jorma Kaukonen) - 4:25

'Pretty As You Feel; evolved out of a studio jam featuring members of Santana and was originally entitled  'Shitty As You Feel'.  Needless to say, Airplane management suggested the band consider a somewhat more conventional title.  Featuring Joey Covington and Grace Slick on vocals, the tune did a nice job of captured the Airplane's old-school  psych-jam sound.  In fact the song's slightly ominous, end-of-the0world feel almost made it a bookend for CS&N's 'Wooden Ships'.  I've always thought the tune was one of the album's stronger tracks.  That said, it was definitely an odd choice for a single.   Carlos Santana turned in the melodic mid-song guitar solo with fellow Santana member Michael Shrieve on drums.  The longer album cut was edited down for release as a single:

- 1971's 'Pretty As You Feel' b/w 'Wild Turkey' (Grunt catalog number 65-0500) # 60 pop  rating: **** stars

5.) Wild Turkey (instrumental)   (Jorma Kaukonen) - 4:43

Basically a jam session between guitarist Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady and violinist Papa John Creach, the instrumental 'Wild Turkey' has always reminded me of something that belonged on a Hot Tuna album.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Law Man   (Grace Slick) - 2:40

Hum, guess Slick had some issues with authority figures ...  No idea if this one was based on some real life incident, but it made for an interesting lyric.  Even if you found the lyric troubling, the song itself was pretty darn good with one of the best melodies she'd ever written and an equally impressive vocal.   Interestingly, in 1994 police showed up a Slick's residence and arrested her roommate.  In the ensuing scuffle Slick was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after she supposedly  pointed an unloaded gun at a police office.   rating: **** stars

2.) Rock and Roll Island   (Paul Kantner) - 3:40

The Airplane take a shot at full tilt rock and roll with mixed results.  Maybe I'm being unfair, but I've never been a fan of the Kantner/Slick shared vocals approach.  Kantner simply didn't have much of a voice and Slick seemed to shriek when paired with the former.   rating: ** stars

3.) Third Week In the Chelsea   (Jorma Kaukonen) - 4:30

I've always taken 'Third Week In the Chelsea' as being a reflection on the band's slow dissolution ...  Regardless, this acoustic ballad was one of the prettiest things the band ever recorded.  An even bigger surprise - sharing lead vocals Kaukonen and Slick sounded great.   Neither the video or sound quality is great, but YouTube has a 1989 clip of Casady, Kaukonen and Slick performing the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv-AB_8Hmg0    rating: **** stars

4.) Never Argue with a German If You're Tired or European Song   (Grace Slick) - 4:31

What in the world can you say about this aural mess?   As far as the German words went, it was nonsensical.  Maybe it was intended to be funny?  It may be one of those Jefferson Airplane urban legends, but supposedly the song was at least partially inspired  by Slick crashing her German made car while racing Kaukonen near the Golden gat Bridge.   rating: ** stars

5.) Thunk    (Joey Covington) - 2:57

With Covington on lead vocals, 'Thunk' was the band at their most experimental.  Acapella moves, jazzy interludes, and the just plain strange - which all told did nothing for me.  rating: * stars

6.) War Movie    (Paul Kantner) - 4:41

Given Marty Balin's voice seems to be in the mix, I'm guessing this was a track begun before Balin quit the group.   Thematically was a patented slice of Kantner anti-establishment, sci-fi "in 1975 all the people rose from the countryside; locked together hand in hand ,all through this unsteady land, to move against you government man, do you understand"  but had the benefit of one of his better melodies and some monumental Casady bass.  rating: **** stars

 

 

Other than a handful of supporting date, the band did little to promote the album.  Kantner and Slick focused parenthood and recording their collaboration "Sunflighter".  Casady and Kaukonen recorded their first Hit Tuna album "Burgers".   Covington recorded a solo album, as did Creach.  Ironically, even without a supporting tour, "Bark" old well, peaking at # 11 on the US album charts.    

 

The album is not particularly rare or expensive, but finding a copy with the original outer sleeve/bag (particularly in good condition) and the lyric / 'suggestion' insert is a tougher proposition.  

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Long John Silver

Company: Grunt

Catalog: FTR-1007

Year: 1972

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original gimmick sleeve

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 2061

Price: $15.00

 

 

Given how inconsistent "Bark" had been, anything including 1972's "Long John Silver" almost had to be an improvement.  Their seventh studio album was recorded in the midst of high tensions and another series of personnel changes. When Joey Covington quit in the middle of the recording sessions former Turtles drummer John Barbata and Sammy Piazza were brought in to finish the album. Former Quick Silver Messenger Service singer/bassist David Freiberg was also brought in for stability and as a late inning replacement for Marty Balin.   With Kantner sounding increasingly out of the proceedings and Kakounen more and more interested in his Hot Tuna project, the collection sounded like  a series of solo efforts with the rest of the band providing back-up.  If also served to shift the spotlight to Slick's increasingly frayed voice and haphazard compositional skills.  Hardly the highlight of their catalog, but not a complete washout, several efforts including the title track, Slick's 'Milk Train', and Kantner's rocking 'Twilight Double Leader' (sounding like a precursor to the forthcoming Jefferson Starship era), at least bore recognizable melodies.  Backed by an American tour which saw Slick maced, Kantner hurt, and Casady busted on drug charges, the collection proved another strong seller, reaching # 20. The album also served as the Airplane's final studio release with future efforts credited to The Jefferson Starship. 

 

Originally released with an elaborate gatefold sleeve which could be folded to served as a stash box (seriously, the instructions were printed on the inner sleeve !!!), the packaging was actually more creative than the music.  Following the set's release Casady and Kakounen decided to quit the band in order to focus on their Hot Tuna project.

.   
"Long John Silver" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Long John Silver   (Grace Slick - Jack Casady) - 4:22 

The title track  had an angry feel to it; apparently matching the vibe in the studio, but the song itself was pretty much incoherent.  The mix was simply miserable with Slick's vocals sounding like they were recorded by a mike she'd shoved in her hip pocket.  The tune was tapped as the leadoff single:

- 1972's 'Long John Silver' b/w 'Milk Train' (Grunt catalog number 65-0506)  #102 pop   rating: *** stars
2.) Aerie (Gang of Eagles)   (Grace Slick) - 4:46

I'll readily admit Slick turned in one helluva vocal on the storming ballad 'Aerie (Gang of Eagles)', but the song's meaning was impenetrable and Papa John Creach'e violin fills still make me cringe.  rating: *** stars
3.) Twilight Double Leader   (Paul Kantner) - 4:46

One of the better things Kantner had written over the last couple of years though the Kantner/Slick vocals came off as shrill and barely in-tune.  A true rocker, the song included the album's best guitar solo.  Interestingly, there's an even better version of the song on their "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland" album.  Grunt tapped it as the second single:

- 1972's 'Twilight Double Leader' b/w 'Trial By Fire' (Grunt catalog number 65-0511)  rating: *** stars
4.) Milk Train   (Grace Slick - Papa John Creach - Roger Spotts) - 3:22

Hum, I get the feeling this one wasn't about the railroad system ...   Nice rocker that would have been even better without Creach scratching all over it.   rating: *** stars

(side 2)
1.) The Son of Jesus   (Paul Kantner) - 5:30

Originally entitled 'The Bastard Son of Jesus' RCA management had a major meltdown with the song - refusing to release the album until the band changed the lyric and deleted the offending lyrics.  If you're ever really bored, you can hear one of the less than subtle edits at the 4;30 mark.  Ironically, the company made no effort to censor the lyric on the forthcoming "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland" live collection.  Musically it was a decent rocker with plenty of roaring Kaukonen lead guitar.   To be honest, the mix was so muddy it's doubtful most folks would have ever noted the offensive lyrics.   rating: *** stars
2.) Easter?   (Grace Slick) - 4:05

Hum, back--to-back commentaries on faith ...  And here's the funny thing about 'Easter?' - Slick's criticisms weren't particularly subtle and your average college kid could probably be equally coherent in their comments about the shortcomings associated with organized religion, but she was actually on target for most of her critiques.    rating: *** stars
3.) Trial By Fire   (Jorma Kaukonen) - 4:38

Kaukonen's only contribution to the album and 'Trial By Fire' was easily the best thing on the collection - a smooth and slinky bluesy number that avoided the shrillness that plagued the rest of the collection.  And as good as this version was, the live take on "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland" was even better. rating: **** stars

4.) Alexander the Medium   (Paul Kantner) - 6:50

Damn, having barfed all over Kantner and Slick, they showed me what a douche bag I could be with the magnificent 'Alexander the Medium'.  Just when you thought Kantner had been relegated to little more than "sidekick" and Slick seemed to have lost everything that had made her such a star, along came this beautiful ballad.  The Kantner lyric was your standard slice of meandering drug fueled sci-fi "We are all creatures of fame, lightness and liberty  In the days of the olden times  Of ancient ladies and maritime splendor  Priests of Karnak and Thebes  ..." but the song had a beautiful melody and for the first time in years Kantner and Slick sounded good together.  rating: **** stars

 


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