Kantner, Paul

Band members               Related acts

- John Blakeley --

- Harvey Brooks -- (1970)

- Jack Casady -- drums (1970, 83)

- Craig Chaquinco -- guitar

- Joey Covington -- (1970)

- David Crosby -- vocals (1970)

- Ansley Dunbar -- drums

- David Freiberg -- vocals

- David Freider -- (1970)

- Jerry Garcia (RIP) -- guitar, pedal steel guitar (1970)

- Mickey Hart -- drums (1970)

- China Kantner -- vocals

- Paul Kantner -- vocals, guitar

- Peter Kaukonen -- (1970)

- Howard Kaylan -- vocals

- Bill Kreutzman -- drums (1970)

- Scott Mathews -- 

- Ronnie Montrose -- guitar

- Ron Nagle -- 

- Graham Nssh -- vocals (1970)

- Phil Sawyer -- (1970)

- Peter Sears -- bass

- Grace Slick -- vocals

- Mickey Thomas -- vocals

- Mark Volman -- vocals




- The Jefferson Airplane

- The Jefferson Starship






Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Blows Against the Empire

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: LSP-4488

Year: 1970

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4778

Price: $9.00

Cost: $66.00



1970's "Blows Against the Empire" started out as a bunch of demos intended as material for a post-"Volunteers" Jefferson Airplane release. As Kantner began working on the demos the project morphed into a solo project.  Credited to 'Paul Kantner and the Jefferson Starship', the album featured a true all star cast including participation from most of the San Francisco rock hierarchy.  Among the players, most of The Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and luminaries like David Crosby and Graham Nash.  A concept album built on Kantner's longstanding interest in science fiction, the plotline seemed to have something to do with a bunch of social outcasts stealing a government owned spaceship to start life over on a distant planet ... Truthfully I don't have a clue what it's about, though a couple of tracks like 'The Baby Tree' and 'A Child Is Coming' seemed to be inspired by the fact Grace Slick was then pregnant with Kantner's child.  There was also plenty of pent up rage with American society ('Hijack') and the government (Slick's 'Sunrise').  Musically the set was actually pretty diverse, standing up better than the last couple of Airplane releases.  With writing assists from a bunch of folks, Kantner showed that he could handle a broad array of genres including hard rock (the opener 'Mau May (Amerikon)'), country (the banjo-propelled 'The Baby Tree') and even more melodic stuff ('Lets Go Together).  Not exactly the tightest or most focused effort you'll ever hear (one suspects Kantner and company spent much of the recording sessions stoned - check out the inner sleeve), there are still a couple of real gems among the fuzzy plotline.  Co-written with David Crosby and propelled by a killer Phil Lesh bass line, 'A Child Is Coming' offered up one of their prettiest efforts.  Equally impressive was the dreamy ''Have You Seen the Stars Tonight' (coincidently another Kantner-Crosby composition).  The album's also interesting in that it won Kantner a Nebula Award which is normally given to a science fiction book or film.


"Blows Against the Empire" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Mau May (Amerikon)   (Paul Kanter - Grace Slick - Covington) - 6:33

2.) The Baby Tree   (Rosalee Sorrells) - 1:42

3.) Lets Go Together   (Paul Kantner) - 4:11

4.) A Child Is Coming   (Paul Kanter - Grace Slick - David Crosby)


(side 2)
1.) Sunrise   (Grace Slick) - 1:54

2.) Hijack   (Paul Kantner - Grace Slick - Marty Balin - Blackman) - 8:18

3.) Home   (Paul Kantner - Phil Sawyer - Hush) - 0:37

4.) Have You Seen the Stars Tonight   (Paul Kantner - David Crosby) - 3:42

5.) XM   (Paul Kantnr - Sawyer - Jerry Garcia - Mickey Hart) - 1:22

6.) Starship   (Paul Kantner - Grace Slick - Marty Balin - Blackman) - 7:07



Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: APL1-4320

Year: 1983

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: includes the original inner sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4537

Price: $10.00

Cost: $66.00


Well, give Paul Kantner credit for pulling together one of the year's most impressive list of collaborators.  Along with most of The Jefferson Airplane and Starship (Marty Bain being the notable exception), 1983's "Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra" brought together a sizable part of the San Francisco rock and roll hierarchy.  As far as the album goes, well that's another story.  Another Kantner penned science fiction concept piece, this one had a plotline that was all but impossible to follow.  Thankfully there was a lyric insert with an executive summary: 


"The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra is a San Francisco band that, in the near future, develops a computer assisted telepathic amplification technology.  In using the machineries on everything from their audience to forms of weather control and extrasensory spying, they attract the attention of various government and police agencies and right wing religious forces.  Eventually they are forced to flee an increasingly repressive American society for the safety of:  Australia ... Oz and beyond.  Oz oddly enough, is the name some Australians attach to their country.  It is here the band flees to a settlement deep in the blistering hot Australian outback.  Over fifteen hundred people have formed a settlement that is near totally self-sufficient.  Weather control, a system of lakes, forests and mountains, underground agriculture and huge machineries all serve to support this community.  The US government agents eventually discover the settlement and launch an attack to recover the extrasensory technology for cold war use.  The children of the settlement are led to construct a telepathic shield around the colony and the escape into space in the 'Edge of Your Seat' climax."


Powered by Slick's instantly recognizable voice, to my ears this sounds like a late period Jefferson Airplane/early period Jefferson Starship album. That's probably enough for most folks to decided whether they're interested in it. Overlooking the dumbs*it concept, a couple of the songs weren't half bad.  'Let's Go' actually generated a little bit of energy while 'The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra' had an okay if somewhat anonymous AOR feel.  Released as a single the title track b/w 'The Sky Is No Limit' (RCA catalog number PB-13661) actually got some airplay   Best of the lot was Kantner's bouncy collaboration with Jerry Garcia 'The Mountain Song'.  In case anyone cared, Kantner and Slick's daughter China handled the vocals (I'm using the word loosely) on 'Declaration of Independence'.  The cut also featured Kantner's newborn son Alexander.

"Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra" track listing:
(side 1)


1.) The Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra   (Paul Kantner) - 4:07

2.) (She Is a) Telepath   (Paul Kantner) - 2:51

3.) Circle of Fire   (Paul Kantner) - 3:47

4.) Mount Shasta    (Paul Kantner - Grace Slick - Scott Mathews - Ron Nagle) - 2:44

5.) Lilth's Song   (Paul Kantner - Grace Slick - Pete Sears) - 6:42 


(side 2)
Australia ... Oz & Beyond

1.) Transubstantiation

     Part 1) Esperanto   (Paul Kantner - Grace Slick - Scott Mathews - Ron Nagle) - 1:28

     Part II) Science Friction   (Paul Kantner) - 2:04

2.) The Mountain Song   (Paul Kantner - Jerry Garcia) - 5:02

3.) Declaration of Independence   (W. Gibbs - C. Dougherty) - 1:38

4.) Underground (The Laboratories)   (Paul Kantner - Grace Slick - Scott Mathews - Ron Nagle) - 2:13

5.) The Sky Is No Limit   (Paul Kantner - China Kantner) - 2:51

6.) Let's Go   (Paul Kantner) - 5:02


Sony reissued the collection in 2005.  The reissued was a double CD set and included a copy of Kantner's original Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra novel in Word and PDF formats.