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Cream of The Crate: CD Review #32 – Jefferson Airplane: Jefferson Airplane

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cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
Cd Cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

  This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.

 

 

 

"An Oscar Wilde in drag who combined insight & sarcasm that was sometimes light, sometimes dark. A provocateur!" - (Paul Katner on Grace Slick) _ "Happily, I have a voice that was built for Rock and Roll." - (Grace Slick)

Cream Of The Crate Reviews 1 to 50 were vinyl album reviews.  
The following fifty reviews (51 - 100) were originally marked as CD Reviews 1 - 50
and this numbering has been kept to keep consistency with the published CD reviews.

This is number thirty two in the series of retro-reviews of Cd albums in my collection.

The series is called, “Cream of The Crate (CD’s)”, and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.

This retro-review features a double CD and is another set in the “Dejavu Retro Gold Collection.

The boxed set of the two CD’s is simply titled “Jefferson Airplane” and was released on the Retro label , and was released in 2001. Its code is R2CD 40-49/2.

cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
CD Label – [CLICK to enlarge]

 

The Cd’s have a total of 16 tracks, eight per CD.

Like similar releases in the Dejavu Retro Gold Collection Series (such as the previously reviewed “Encyclopedia of Boogie Woogie” – Cream of The Crate CD #34), the box that the CD’s and booklet come in, are of nice quality.

As commented on previously, they look sharp and fashionable and have a nice dimpled effect on the front. The colours are bright and vibrant, the lettering down the side is in gold colour, and, it simply gives the impression that the producers of the set actually cared!

cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
Box cover – [CLICK to enlarge}

Box cover side


The booklet is worthy of mention.

cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
Booklet cover – [CLICK to enlarge]

It is not stunning, but it does have a touch of class with quality gloss paper, and the 15 single leaf pages are split fairly evenly between pictures of the group or its members.

Other pages have quotations from members of the group. It doesn’t do anything to add to the general information on the group that has been readily available for many, many years and is certainly not a challenge for the reader, but it is far better than most of the “raggy” sheets that are passed off in many CD sets, for booklets.

 

cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
Two plates from the booklet – {CLICK either to enlarge]
cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane

 

Fans know that Jefferson Airplane went through three distinct line-up changes before finally calling it quits in the early 1990s. They also know that Jefferson Airplane, the band that started in San Francisco in 1965 and ran for seven years, is the only one of the three that really matters, although that version of the group went through a number of membership changes before stabilising when Grace Slick Joined.

That original line-up (1965) consisted of Marty Balin (Martyn Jerel Buchwald) – the groups founder; Paul Katner; Signe Toly Anderson – the groups original co-singer; Jorma Kaukonen; Jerry Peloquin and Bob Harvey. This line-up lasted a very short time before Peloquin and Harvey were replaced Jack Cassidy and Skip Spence.

 

cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
The 1966 line-up: Anderson,Cassidy, Balin, Spence, Katner & Kaukonen



When Signe left the group in 1966 to have a child, and was replaced the singer of the group “The Great Society” – Grace Slick, the line-up with Slick consisted of Balin (guitar); Katner (guitar);Kaukonen (guitar); Cassidy (Bass) & Spencer Dryden (Drums). This “classic” line-up carried them through to the 1970’s.

Signe Anderson

 

The classic line-up

 

So, to the CD itself.

It has eight tracks on both CD’s and between them they have the very best of the Airplanes recordings from the period 1966 – 1970.

It is a shame that the producers failed to put the tracks in chronological order, something that is close to my heart when it comes to historic compilations. I think having tracks in a chronological order allows the listener to track the sometimes subtle and not so subtle changes in the groups development.

The other very annoying thing is that it would appear that each track is a live track, although there is not always ‘crowd noise’ on the tracks.

Firstly to have announced the set as a “Live Album” I think would have added to it’s sales, and further, there is no acknowledgement anywhere that gives any idea of what shows these tracks were lifted from.

That is unforgivable!

Cd #1

1. White Rabbit
2. Today
3. It’s No Secret
4. My best friend
5. Don’t Slip Away
6. Other Side Of This Life
8. Somebody To Love


Cd #2

1. Plastic Fantastic Lover
2. 3/5 of a Mile In ten Seconds
3. She Has Funny cars
4. You’re So Loose
5. What You’re Asking
6. Would You Love Me
7. Ride
8. This Is My Life

cream of the crate: cd review #32 – jefferson airplane: jefferson airplane
Rear of the box with track listing – [CLICK to enlarge]

The first track to look at is a track recorded the group in 1966 which features Signe Anderson on lead vocals, and, it has to be said that while she is no Grace Slick, it is a great effort.

It’s No Secret, was released in February 1966. It did not chart but it did make people sit up and listen and as a result, Jefferson Airplane began to appear at more prestigious venues in San Francisco and even to tour outside the Bay Area.

This is track #3 on CD #1.

It’s No Secret

 

I’m shying away from their best known hit, White Rabbit, but will put it up as a video clip at the end of the review.

Instead I chose Somebody To LoveTrack 8 on CD #1.

This track was actually written Dar Slick, the lead guitarist of The Great Society, and younger brother of Jerry Slick (the drummer) who was Grace’s husband.

Grace actually recorded this with The Great Society, but when she rerecorded it for the Surrealistic Pillow LP, and it was released as a single in 1966.

It was then that it went to #4 in the USA Cashbox 100, and that made it the highest charting track to that time the group, even out charting the subsequent White Rabbit.

When the truth is found
To be lies
And all the joy
Within you dies

Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love
Love

When the garden flowers
Ba, are dead, yes
And your mind, your mind
Is so full of red

Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love

Your eyes, I say your eyes
May look like his
Yeah, but in your head, ba
I’m afraid you don’t know where it is

Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love

Tears are running
They’re all running down your dress
And your friends, 
They treat you like a guest

Don’t you want somebody to love?
Don’t you need somebody to love?
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love?
You better find somebody to love

Somebody To Love

 

Young Grace Slick, circa 1966

 

Moving onto CD #2, Track #1Plastic Fantastic Lover.

This is quite an evocative track title and on looking at the lyrics it is obviously even at this early stage of the development of technology [1969] that the group iertr specifically aiming their sarcasm at the early worship of technology.

it was suggested in articles of the day that Balin who wrote the lyrics, was talking about his new stereo system, although a later article suggested it was aimed specifically at Television.

It might have been directed toward the development of computers, but at this time they were still in the realm of the room size monsters – no personal computers in 1969!

The track is from a live performance and it is a shame that there is no indication as to where that performance was – these are the failings of liner notes that drives me to distraction.

It has an excellent bass line supplied Cassidy, very simple but sonically solid. The guitar sound, played Kaukonen, is classic Airplane and on this track, the vocals are supplied Marty Balin, who does an excellent job.

I believe this live version is simply superior to the studio version.

Her neon mouth with a bleeding talk smile
Is nothing but electric sign
You could say she has an individual style
She’s a part of a colorful time

Super-sealed lady, chrome-color clothes
You wear ’cause you have no other
But I suppose no one knows
You’re my plastic fantastic lover

Your rattlin’ cough never shuts off
Is nothing but a used machine
Your aluminum finish, slightly diminished
Is the best I’ve ever seen

Cosmetic ba, plug into me
And never, ever find another
And I realize no one’s wise
To my plastic fantastic lover

The electrical dust is starting to rust
Her trapezoid thermometer taste
All the red tape is mechanical rape
Of the TV program waste

Data control and I.B.M.
Science is mankind’s brother
But all I see is draining me
On my plastic fantastic lover

 

Plastic Fantastic Lover


The final track for your aural edification is also from CD #2  and it’s track #3 which has a very unusual title and is also a live performance of She Has Funny Cars.

It’s another of the Airplanes famous psychedelic rock tracks and features Jack Cassidy on fuzz bass, and it uses the famous “Bo Diddley Beat“. Marty Balin is singing the first part vocal with Grace Slick’s contrasting second part.

The meaning of this song, despite its strange title, is far clearer than the previous track.

It is about the rise of materialism and again the Airplane use their compositional skills with a healthy dose of sarcasm. It can be seen as throwing the issue of materialism back into the face of middle class America.

While you listen to the track you need to consider that the period at the close of the 1960’s and into the 1970’s, was the crowing period of the “hippy movement” and its rejection of everything middle class.

Jefferson Airplane were among the darlings of the then “counter-culture” movement, particularly on the West Coast of the USA, and most definitely in San Francisco!

To my knowledge the track was never released as a single.

She Has Funny Cars

 


The band went through a number of changes after this halcyon period, eventually reforming as Jefferson Starship, before again folding, and later reforming as Jefferson Airplane, but there were constant bouts of bickering and frankly, they never came close to regaining the music of the earlier period, and in most cases the fan acclamation for the reformed outfits, was due to the desire to ‘relive’ those great earlier days, even though the band failed to deliver.

Over the entire life of the band and its derivatives, it had seven studio albums between 1966 and 1989, sixteen live or compilation albums between 1969 and 2010 and nineteen singles between 1966 and 1989. There are many unofficial releases.

Personally I think Surrealistic Pillow is their best release and certainly that was reflected in sales (not always a good indicator). This CD that has been reviewed will fit comfortably on the shelf of any collection. It does have their best known tracks, a good smattering of studio and live performances, and even though many tracks were released after the period this CD covers, in my mind it represents the very, very best period of Jefferson Airplane.

The problem might be, finding a copy. I searched Ebay, and most of the larger on-line stores without finding one copy. It certainly was not the case with other releases in the Dejavu Retro Gold Series. So it seems to place it in the “rare” category! If you see it, buy it!!


VIDEOS:

Once again I visited Youtube and not unexpectedly found a good selection of Jefferson Airplane clips. The White Rabbit (live) clip is from Woodstock, and despite the %$!!$#!! advert at the beginning, is worth watching! The second clip is a rare clip featuring the original singer Signe Anderson.

 

White Rabbit

 

It’s No Secret

 

High Flying Bird

 

3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds


Previous Cream of The Crate Album reviews:

 

To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –

cream of the crate cd review #2 : robert johnson – the complete recordings

 

Click to open the following CD reviews:

#1. The Fugs: The Fugs First Album

#2. Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings

#3. Bob Dylan – Biograph

#4. Robin Trower – Essential

#5. Various Artists – Sixties Down Under Compilation

#6. Various Artists – The Big Ol’ Box of New Orleans

#7. Hugh Masekela – African Breeze: 80’s

#8. The Last Poets – The Very Best of the Last Poets

#9. Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Down By The Riversiide

#10. Various Artists – Sixties Down Under: Vol. 2

#11. The Beatles – On Air: Live at BBC Vol.2

#12. The Rolling Stones – Singles Collection: The London Years

#13. Compilation: Girl Groups Of The Sixties

#14. The Byrds – There Is A Season [Boxed Set]

#15. Various Artists – Sixties Down Under: Volume 4

#16. Howling Wolf – The London Sessions

#17. The Who – Thirty Years of Maximum R&B

#18. Thomas Dolby – Hyperactive

#19. Various Artists – Love Is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965 – 1970

#20. Various Artists: 60’s Down Under – Volume 4

#21. 2nu – Ponderous

#22. The Great Eric Clapton and The Yardbirds [Boxed Set]

#23. The Sue Records Story: New York City – The Sound of Soul

#24. Various Artists – The Encyclopedia of Boogie Woogie

#25. Cam-Pact – Psychedelic Pop ‘n Soul: 1967 – 1969

#26. The Clash – The Singles

#27. Arthur Brown – Fire: The Story of Arthur Brown

#28. Various Artists – Red Hot & Blue: Col Porter Tribute

#29. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Global a Go Go

#30 – Jeff St John’s Copper Wine – Joint Effort

#31 – John Lee Hooker – Boogie Man

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