Posts Tagged ‘Jefferson Airplane’

The looming dissolution of the Beatles, after a stirring run of creative genius, signaled that everything would be different in the ’70s. They released their final album in Abbey Road, though the earlier-recorded Let It Be would follow, after some post-session doctoring from Phil Spector. They weren’t the only ones who departed: The original Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon and the Animals and the Jeff Beck Group fell apart, even as Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones died. The warm feelings of Woodstock were quickly forgotten in the bloody aftermath of Altamont.

The death of Brian Jones, July 3rd , Brian Jones had long since relinquished his role as a major contributor to the band he founded, the Rolling Stones, when he drowned in his swimming pool at his home in Cotchford Farm, the estate formerly owned by A.A. Milnes, author of the ever popular children’s book, Winnie the Pooh. He had been fired by the Stones the month before due to drug use and increasingly erratic behavior, leaving Jones more or less out in the cold as far as any further recording ventures were concerned. Initially ruled “death by misadventure,” the verdict was later questioned when rumors spread that a construction worker named Frank Thorogood actually murdered Jones and had made a deathbed confession to a confidante. In 2008, the Sussex police department declared it was no longer investigating the claim. Nevertheless, Jones became the first member of the so-called 27 club, whose membership now includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Whitehouse and a number of other artists whose lives ended at the fateful age of 27. His death also ended a prolific and profound era for the Stones, which many still argue, was the most creative period of their collective career.

At the same time, bands appeared that would dominate the decade to come. Led Zeppelin released their acclaimed first and second albums in ’69, laying a sturdy foundation for superstardom. Zeppelin seemed to arrive as a fully formed new blues-rock variant, harder and louder than anything that had come before. In fact, after touring together extensively, the band arrived in the studio with this material so well rehearsed that they only needed 36 hours spread out over two weeks to complete the album. Its influence, however, has endured – not just as a template for their own career, but also for untold legions of soon-to-be-famous heavy-metal purveyors.

In the summer of 1969, Zeppelin was a band on the rise. Its self-titled first album, released in January of that year, reached Number 10 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., and peaked at Number 6 in the U.K. The band’s pairing of blues, folk and psychedelia eventually would make it the biggest band of the 1970s, “as influential in that decade as The Beatles were in the previous one,”  Zeppelin would play more than 40 gigs on their Summer of 69 tour of U.S.A.

Chicago issued the first of what will eventually be four straight multi-album projects, A band with a bright horn section and a scalding guitarist, Chicago was really all about dichotomy back then. Four songs from their introductory double album would enter the charts, through to 1972’s Chicago V. 

Mick Taylor joined The Stones, sparking their most heralded period – though one that was marked by a turn toward darker subject matter. Rolling Stones, ‘Let It Bleed’ was aptly titled, the second in a quartet of genius albums by the Stones echoed all of the very real apprehensions surrounding this era – like a gritty yin to the Beatles’ utopian yang on ‘Abbey Road.’ Mick Taylor’s arrival also ushered in a harder-edged sound, which combined to create one of rock’s most visceral triumphs. It’s sexy, foreboding, topical and dangerous, sometimes all at once.

Altamont – December 6th was one of the darkest days in music history, Altamont sealed the lid on the promise of peace and love that was capped by Woodstock, and did so within mere months following that celebratory event itself. The Stones, who headlined the sprawling festival in the California desert, may have had good intentions to offer a free concert, but enlisting the Hell’s Angels as security was a terrible idea. Though the line-up was stellar—CSNY, Santana and Jefferson Airplane reprised their roles from Woodstock, along with the Flying Burrito Brothers providing an excellent add-on—an aura of violence and uncertainty pervaded the proceedings. Both Jagger and Airplane singer Marty Balin were accosted the former as he left his chopper, the latter onstage and the death of concert goer Meredith Hunter by a pack of Angels who claimed they saw him wielding a gun, ensured the fact that an idyllic utopian era of the ’60s was quickly come to an end.

‘Abbey Road’ was always a far more fitting send off for the Beatles than ‘Let It Be’ could have ever been. It’s among Paul McCartney’s brightest, most artistically satisfying, moments. But John Lennon’s punctuations (and, to a quickly emerging degree, George Harrison’s) undoubtably make it so. Moments away from imploding, they arrived for these sessions as distinct individuals, rather than stylized mop-topped group. Yet, for a moment in time and for this one last time, the Beatles’ separate personalities seemed to work again in service of the whole.

The Beatles Final Concert, January 30th, Although the Beatles’ impromptu performance on the rooftop of their Apple headquarters in London’s central environs was rumored to be a tryout for a return to live concerts, it was in fact part of the band’s final hurrah. The tumultuous sessions for their album Let It Be exposed a group in disarray, and indeed, a mere nine months after this live six song set—all culled from tracks they had been working on at the time The Beatles were officially broken. Filmed to provide a cap on the ill-fated Let It Be film, it’s still an exhilarating experience to watch the four former Fabs giving it a final go for the curious crowds below. “Hope we passed the audition,” John says before vacating the premises on orders from the police. Yes, Mr. Lennon, indeed you did.

Nick Drake, ‘Five Leaves Left’ was an autumnal yearning which surrounds these folk-rock recordings, and that’s likely the reason Drake was overlooked in his time. Even smart assists from Richard Thompson, then of Fairport Convention fame, couldn’t push this delicately conveyed album into the public consciousness back then. Sadly, Drake only had five years left. He died at age 26 in 1974 of an overdose.

This daring debut by prog rock band King Crimson, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ still remains prog’s standard bearer, the best example of a then-emerging movement that sought to combine musical concepts with rock. ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ was also a template for how this seemingly ever-evolving band would operate, as their lineup almost immediately flew apart. The core pair of Robert Fripp and Greg Lake was all that remained by the time King Crimson set about recording a follow-up.

The Kinks ‘Arthur,’ a triumph of rock with a British sensibility subtitled “Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire,” never gets the short-hand praise of contemporary works like the Who’s ‘Tommy.’ That’s likely because it’s less ambitious. But it’s also far more listenable – like a rock musical, rather than a rock opera. Hailed as one of rock’s first great concept albums, ‘Tommy’ – like so many examples in that genre – sometimes suffers creatively at the expense of furthering the plot. But at its best, this represents the Who at their finest. And there’s no questioning how the album opened up new narrative possibilities for pop composers.

The Who Performed Tommy for the First Time, April 22nd Notably, the concert in Devon, England, preceded the album’s official release by a month. Although other offerings can claim to be the first real rock operas—The Pretty Things’ S.F, Sorrow and the Kinks’ Arthur, among them—The Who were the only band to take the unusual step of performing an album in its entirety. They’d later take Tommy to some of the world’s great opera houses, elevating rock in both intellect and intent.

The debut of supergroup Blind Faith, June 7th, Heralded as the first true “super group”—a term that would resurface continuously in the years that followed Blind Faith was based on an all-star union between guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker of Cream and vocalist/keyboard player Steve Winwood of Traffic, with bassist Ric Grech, formerly of Family, added later on. Although Clapton in particular was wary of the implications involved in such a high profile ensemble and equally concerned about inviting the tempestuous Baker into the fold—he agreed to pursue the possibilities, owing in small part to the fact that he and Winwood had worked together in a short-lived ad hoc outfit called Powerhouse a few years before. The group’s less than spectacular live debut at Hyde Park further exacerbated Clapton’s concerns, and after a single spotty album and tours of Scandinavia and the U.S., the group disbanded later that year.

Dylan Reemerges at the Isle of Wight, August 31st, Dylan had been largely absent from public view since a 1966 motorcycle accident drove him into self-imposed seclusion. Other than his work with the Band at Big Pink, he chose to spend time with his family and record an album, Nashville Skyline, a shocking departure from any album he had offered before. Consequently, the announcement of his appearance at England’s Isle of Wight Festival attracted an extraordinary amount of interest, including the curiosity of various Beatles, a Stone, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and a still gestating Elton John. Rumor had it that Lennon, Harrison and Starr might join Dylan onstage, and although that proved false, Dylan alone was enough to mesmerize the masses. Dressed in a beige suit, his hair cut short, he performed a 17-song set with backing from the Band, a concert that included several classics from his catalog as well as tracks from Nashville Skyline and its immediate predecessor, John Wesley Harding. It’s still considered a landmark performance today.

That was probably to be expected for a generation still reeling from shocking assassinations and an ever-escalating war. So, too, was a move toward nostalgia for the old ways. Bob Dylan Having hinted at his intentions on the more rustic ‘John Wesley Harding,’ Dylan definitively left behind protest music for a head-long dive into deep country for the charming, determinedly happy ‘Nashville Skyline.’ In its own way, this was revolutionary too as he went country, even as his old backing musicians in The Band released a determinedly homespun self-titled masterpiece. The Byrds also splintered, with two members Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman left to dive deeper into their passion for country and western music. The resulting album, unfortunately, did little on the charts – but it proved to be a well-spring of inspiration for descendent bands like the Eagles. breaking away to form the Americana-focused Flying Burrito Brothers.

Although there had been several gingerly moves to find common ground between the disparate realms of country music and rock ’n’ roll early rock pioneers Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers and Rick Nelson all had claims on country—in the divided America of the late ’60s, followers of the two styles were decidedly distinct. Nevertheless, the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield effectively made efforts to narrow that divide, making it only natural that the two groups they spawned, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco respectively, would, to paraphrase the title of the latter’s debut album, pick up the pieces. As a result of releases like The Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, in February 1969, country-rock blossomed, spearheaded by the influence of “cosmic cowboy” Gram Parsons (a member of both the Byrds and the Burritos) before later finding a permanent bond with the release of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, featuring members of both the new guard and the old, two years later.

The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’ This album’s wiry, first-take feel was no put on: Three songs from the Stooges‘ titanic debut were written in a single day, after their label said the album needed more material, then banged them out live. The ferocious results gave the nascent heavy metal genre new fire, presupposed far-off punk, and scared the hell out of parents everywhere.

Creedence Clearwater Revival began to come into their own here, reaching heralded high points with “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary.” The rest of ‘Bayou Country’ doesn’t always reach that level, but the album is nevertheless surrounded by a sense of expectancy. They’re discovering themselves with every revolution of this album, and it’s a fizzy joy to hear. The second of an incredible run of three CCR albums from 1969 codifies every great thing the earlier ‘Bayou Country’ pointed toward. Sharply drawn, ‘Green River’ is just as sharply played – with none of the period-piece noodling that had occasionally seeped into their first two albums. John Fogerty dilated his muse on ageless cuts like “Bad Moon Rising,” the title track and “Lodi,” and Creedence finally found its true voice.

The Allman Brothers Band an accomplished debut as they blended rock, blues, jazz and a distinctly Southern sensibility to came up with something uniquely and forever their own. Taken for granted in today’s multi-cultural melting pot, ‘Santana’ marked the big bang of Latin rock. Within a year, congas and timbales had found their way into the music of the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, among many others. But it all started here, as ‘Santana’ blended mind-blowing, genre-bending musical explorations with more compact songs like the rambunctious Top 10 hit ‘Evil Ways’.

Jimi Hendrix forms the Band of Gypsies, October and with the release of Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix was at the height of his prowess, but the break-up of the Experience left him without a band and bereft of new recordings. His band at Woodstock, ostensively dubbed “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows,” found him expanding his original trio concept and reuniting with his former army buddy, Billy Cox. The aggregate, which Hendrix referred to as “a band of gypsies” when interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show, fell apart soon after, although Cox continued on bass and joined Hendrix for some informal recording dates with Buddy Miles. It was a natural combination; Miles had subbed for Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell on two tracks used for Electric Ladyland, and the trio went on to record a few demos and rehearse for an upcoming concert at the Fillmore East that would span New Year’s Eve. The self-titled album, released on Capitol Records to satisfy a contractual obligation, became the band’s only official recording, but clearly pointed the way to a more racially charged sound Hendrix was working on for the future.

Woodstock, August 15th-18th, If ever there was a single gathering that served to define the spirit of the ’60s, those three days spent in the muddy fields of Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York takes the prize. It wasn’t always pleasant—despite an amazing array of rock’s most influential artists (Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, CSNY, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens, et. al.), the traffic, the mud and the scarcity of supplies (other than the acid of course) tended to test the resolve of all involved. Still, it was that spirit of love, peace and music that pervaded the proceedings over all, assuring a communal embrace while setting the precedent for festival gatherings, a basic blueprint that remains relevant to this day.

Jefferson Airplane, ‘Volunteers’ was the last album to feature both Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden, ‘Volunteers’ blended a few bucolic moments (featuring guest stars Jerry Garcia and members of CSNY) in with the now-expected psychedelic rock – but that’s not this album’s best-remembered legacy. Instead, it’s a series of molten, occasionally profanity-laced rebukes of the American status quo. They left the ’60s with a bang.

Joining together for the first of what would become a string of free-wheeling, muscular successes alongside his band Crazy Horse, Neil Young blows a hole in the comfy folk-rock conventions of ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ in fact, has a lot more in common with the wild eclecticism of his work with Buffalo Springfield, but with a new tone that’s both sharper and looser.

Records in  heavy rotation in my bedroom included the debut album from Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, The Beatles Abbey Road , The Who’s Tommy, King Crimson’s In The Court Of The Crimson King a great record,one that for its time was truly unique, The Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet which never left my turntable and the follow-up release Let It Bleed, Neil Young’s masterpiece Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Zappa’s Hot Rats which help change my musical perspective, Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On, CSN debut, Blind Faith’s one and only official release which is also a very strange record, Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan, The MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul which arrived unexpectedly when I did not respond in time to a record company selection deadline and glad I got this gem,Chicago Transit Authority double set before they shortened their name to Chicago,  Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, Live Dead, The Doors Soft Parade, Pink Floyd’s Live Ummagumma, Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers, and Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog.

Few events in American history caused as much upheaval as the war in Vietnam. Young people took to streets and college campuses, protesting a conflict that they viewed as little more than an excuse for a murder machine entangling thousands of young draftees. Not surprisingly, musicians supplied the soundtrack against which protest was pursued. With the sound and imagery flashing across television screens night after night, it was only natural that people would find respite in an array of anthems—“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Street Fighting Man from the Rolling Stones,” “For What It’s Worth (written about the riots on Sunset Strip) by Buffalo Springfield, “Machine Gun” from Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish’s “Vietnam Song” and “Volunteers” which came courtesy of Jefferson Airplane. All served to remind the youth of the country that they weren’t alone in their determination to sway some sentiment and avoid the bloodshed overseas.

Advertisements
Marty Balin
Marty Balin, whose tenor voice provided hits for the ’60s psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, has died,
The family said Friday: “Marty’s fans describe him as having had a substantial impact for the better of the world: ‘One of the greatest voices of all time, a writer of songs that will never fade, and founder of the quintessential San Francisco band of the sixties.’ His music is known for being the soundtrack to all of life’s monumental moments.”
Balin’s songwriting credits for the Airplane included “It’s No Secret,” “Today,” “Comin’ Back To Me,” “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “Share a Little Joke,” and “Volunteers”  the latter sung at Woodstock.
Another co-founder, Paul Kantner, died in January 2016, the same month the Recording Academy named Jefferson Airplane one of its annual Lifetime Achievement Award recipients at the Grammys.
Balin and the Jefferson Airplane were pioneers of psychedelic rock — their sound fused fuzzy, distorted, reverb-filled tones with influences from folk, rock and the blues.

The Airplane helped define the San Francisco music scene in the 1960s, debuting at the Matrix nightclub in 1965, about a year before its first album, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” was released.Jefferson Airplane formed in 1965 when folk artist Balin decided to create a rock group in response to the Beatles-led British Invasion. The band quickly attracted a local following – and when fledgling promoter Bill Graham opened his legendary Fillmore Auditorium, Jefferson Airplane served as the first headliner.

Signed to RCA Records for the then-princely sum of $25,000, the band scored five gold albums in the US, including 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow and 1968’s Crown of Creation in their first run of success.

Marty Balin wrote and sang some of the best-loved songs of both Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. In memory of the singer, who passed away on September. 27th, 2018. Here are some of the great songs.

Marty Balin started his musical journey as a pop singer in the style of Gene Pitney or Paul Anka. In 1962 he signed to Challenge Records, releasing two singles that went nowhere. He then immersed himself in the folk music scene, fronting a group called the Town Criers, which also failed to ignite. While Balin re-thought his musical path, a business opportunity opened up that would tie this all together. He and friend Elliot Sazer took over a failing pizza shop called the Syndicate, and relaunched it as the Matrix, which would become a new music venue for San Francisco’s up-and-coming rock and rollers.

It was during this that he connected with like-minded guitarist Paul Kantner. The two would soon form what would become one of the most important bands of the ’60s. Jefferson Airplane would break every rule in the book, and be all the better for it. “One night we were playing this gig and Jorma [Kaukonen] just suddenly took off, you know,” Ballin recalled in the documentary Fly Jefferson Airplane. “He just flew away and played the hell out of this song. We never heard that before. So the next night, Jack [Casady] and Jorma took off, you know, and it was just great. So the next night, we all just took off and we played the song however we wanted, whatever we thought. So that became our approach.”

Balin, along with Signe Toly Anderson, would share lead vocals in the original lineup. Balin wrote and or co-wrote most of the songs on their stunning 1966 debut, “Takes Off”. Within the year, Anderson left the band to raise a family, leaving the door open for Grace Slick who would take the band up the charts with “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love.” It would be, however, Balin who remained the heart and soul of the band over their often tumultuous life span.

Grace Slick, whose powerful vocals added another unique element to the band’s sound, joined the group in 1966, bringing those two songs with her from her previous band, the Great Society.

Those songs, “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” became Top 10 hits the following year on “Surrealistic Pillow,” one of the defining rock albums of the late ’60s.

Multivocal harmonies were a staple of the Airplane, with Balin and Slick soaring over one another and Kantner weaving in. In a 2011 interview, Kantner said this interplay is “maybe the best thing I do in the bands that I’ve been in.”

The band performed at three of the legendary music festivals of the ’60s, including the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock and the ill-fated Altamont. Balin was brutally beaten by the Hells Angels after he dove into the audience to help an audience member in distress. “I woke up with all these boot marks all over my body,” he told Relix in 1993. “I just walked out there. I remember Jorma saying, ‘Hey, you’re a crazy son of a bitch.’”

As Kantner and Slick would get farther out in their concepts, Balin would remain the more grounded voice in the band, but would often be out-voted by the others. His input into the band became less and less, but still potent with songs like “Volunteers” and “Share a Little Joke.” Though he left in 1971, he later would once again hook up with Slick and Kantner in Jefferson Starship in 1974, writing the band’s biggest hit “Miracles” in 1975.

Marty and I are like totally different creatures, we make different kinds of music,” said Kantner in Fly Jefferson Airplane. “Marty is extraordinarily good, particularly at writing simple songs that connect and touch you. I can’t write a simple song to save my life.”

Balin had a warm, pure and honest voice, which worked as a perfect counterpart to Grace’s more brash style. He took part in various reconfigurations of the group over the years, but never really receiving the respect he was due for starting and steering the band at the start.  In addition to his strengths as a singer, Balin was an accomplished songwriter as well, and he contributed several key numbers to the Airplane’s canon early on and later supplied several successful songs to its designated successor, Jefferson Starship. Although Starship was Slick and singer/guitarist Paul Kantner’s vehicle after the mothership’s demise, Balin’s loyalty to his former flightmates helped give that band its first hint of commercial success. Here a mere handful of Balin’s finest moments here to enjoy. There will never be another band like Jefferson Airplane.

“It’s No Secret” From: ‘Jefferson Airplane Takes Off’ (1966)

Issued as the band’s debut single, “It’s No Secret” was the sound of Jefferson Airplane circa 1966. Balin at the front with backing from Signe Toly Anderson and Paul Kantner and a straight-ahead folk-rock track. Still, despite being on similar ground to bands like the”Byrds, they couldn’t help but sound like anyone but the Jefferson Airplane. It was an understated start to an amazing catalog of music. “It’s No Secret”
One of Balin’s most indelible contributions to the initial Airplane album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, “It’s No Secret” helped define the Airplane’s oeurve, a striking sense of defiance coupled with an emphatic emotional investment. Balin seems to teeter on the brink of desperation in trying to convince a skeptical lover that he’s all in as far as their relationship is concerned (“It’s no secret, How strong my love is for you/ It’s no secret, when I tell you what I’m gonna do/ ‘Cause I love you, yes I love you”), and indeed, by the time the song reaches its soaring conclusion, it becomes a notion that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“Young Girl Sunday Blues” From: ‘After Bathing at Baxters’ (1967)

Most of the band’s third album, After Bathing At Baxters, was under the hands of Kantner and Slick, but Balin got this one gem into the mix. A stomping rocker co-written with Kantner, its style slots in between the more psychedelic start and end of side one of the album. Balin was a brilliant balladeer but could deliver on a rocker as well.

“Comin’ Back to Me” From: ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ (1967)

Balin wrote and sings solo on this incredible, haunting ballad. Perhaps more than any other song on our list of the  Marty Balin Songs, this captures him at his truest. The timber and tone of his voice fully in force is a thing of beauty. This song sounds even more striking today than it did in 1967.

“With Your Love”  –  From “Spitfire”

Written with drummer Joey Covington and an occasional collaborator Vic Smith, “With Your Love” was one of the final significant songs in the Airplane’s last years. It made its appearance on the album Spitfire shortly before their initial break-up. While the subject matter may have been of a more mundane variety, a style the group turned to in their final desperate grasp for commercial success, Balin’s vocal remains as impassioned as ever. Here was proof that even as the Airplane’s other engines were failing, he could still help them takeoff.

“Plastic Fantastic Lover” From: ‘Woodstock’ (1969)

The album closer on the classic Surrealistic Pillow, “Plastic Fantastic Lover” is a “pounding rant inspired by the most pervasive American addiction of all, television” according to the Jeff Tamakin bio Got a Revolution. While the studio version is a concise rocker clocking in under three minutes, the version the band let loose at Woodstock Festival is an amphetamine-fueled juggernaut of rock and roll fire. Showing what a great band, They could be so fierce live.

One in a series of searing duets with Grace Slick, and another highlight of the landmark “Surrealistic Pillow” album, this song was widely believed to be a euphemism for a sex toy, although Balin later insisted that it was written in praise to his new stereo set-up. The staunch drive and determination inherent in the song’s emphatic performance set a standard for the banshee wail that would come to full fruition on later albums Crown of Creation and Volunteers in particular. The song itself was ensured immortality when it was tapped as the B side of the band’s most immortal anthem “Somebody To Love.”

“Crown of Creation”  From “Crown of Creation”

Sung in the manner of a tribal chant, “Crown of Creation” finds Balin soaring above Slick and Kantner’s insistent wail, adding to the song’s irrepressible urgency and forward thrust. Taken from the album of the same name, its militancy and unapologetic verve made it a standout of their early sets and another example of their populist platitudes. Here again, there’s a menacing sense of irony and insistence at play (“You are the crown of creation/ And you’ve got no place to go”), seemingly assuring its subject that “the stability you strive for” will be found, but only in barren environs they refer to as “a place among the fossils of our time.” It’s a dismal assessment indeed.

“Miracles” From: ‘Red Octopus’ (1975)

By 1975 the Airplane were long gone and the Jefferson Starship had taken on a life of its own. Though Balin first connected with them in a somewhat tentative fashion, he soon slid right into place, providing them with their biggest hit as Jefferson Starship. “Miracles,” a three-minute edit of the seven-minute album track, hit No. 3 on the Hot 100 in early 1975 thanks to Balin’s beautiful lyric and vocal.

“Caroline”  –  From ” Dragonfly”

In many ways “Caroline” was Balin’s audition contribution to Jefferson Starship. Balin hadn’t yet committed to joining the band on a full-time basis, but this dynamic ballad, recorded for the album Dragonfly, helped transform the group from a loose conglomeration of fellow travelers with little commercial intent into a viable radio-ready entity that was well worthy of taking on the Airplane’s legacy. Shedding the psychedelic sheen for a sound well in keeping with the early ‘70s AOR, Balin helped the band make the leap.

“Come Up the Years” From: ‘Jefferson Airplane Takes Off’ (1966)

Though never released as a single, “Come Up The Years” still sounds like a hit, on which Balin and Kantner harmonize on this tale of new love. Like so much of the band’s early material, its simplicity is the key to its success. Throw in a glockenspiel for the solo and we have a song that, like so many of theirs, defines the era from whence it came.

“3/5 of a Mile In 10 Seconds” From: ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ (1967)

This rocker opens side two of the 1967 classic Surrealistic Pillow. As strong lyrically as musically, “3/5 of a Mile In 10 Seconds” was all Balin. With lines like “Do away with people laughin’ at my hair / Do away with people frownin’ on my precious cares / Take me to a circus tent where I can easily pay my rent / And all the other freaks will share my cares.” Though that may seem rooted in ’67, it sounds just as applicable well after the end of the Flower Power movement.

“She Has Funny Cars” From: ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ (1967)

Arguably one of the greatest opening tracks to an album, “She Has Funny Cars” was co-written with lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and still packs a punch like no other. The galloping drums give way to a monster guitar riff before Balin sails in on lead vocal. Soon joined by Grace Slick, this song pretty much defines Jefferson Aiplane stylistically.

“Volunteers”  From: ‘Volunteers’ (1969)

The 1969 album Volunteers certainly ranks right up there with the band’s finest material. From the opening call to arms of “We Can Be Together” through the title cut that closes the LP, it’s one hell of a ride. The song “Volunteers” was supposedly first inspired by Balin hearing a Volunteers of America donation truck out in the street. He jotted down some lyrics and, with the powerhouse guitar riff from Kantner, created a genuine anthem for the end of the ’60s.

The title track from the Airplane’s most insurgent effort of their collective career, “Volunteers” was exactly the anthem needed when dissent and desperation raged across the country throughout the Nixon era of the late ’60s and early ’70s. The emphatic rallying cry, “Up against the wall mother fucker,” emphasized the outrage and intent inherent in Balin and Slick’s banshee wail. This was indeed protest with both passion and purpose.

“Today” From: ‘Surreaslistic Pillow’ (1967)

“Today” stands as one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. A simple guitar riff dripping with haze and minimal percussion are all that is needed to accompany Balin here. Marty’s voice is so pure and bare. Eventually Slick comes in to harmonize, making it all the more beautiful. Like most of the album, it is drenched in reverb, which only adds to the ethereal nature of the songs. Legend has it that this arch ballad, which made its initial appearance on the Airplane’s defining album Surrealistic Pillow, was written on spec in hopes of securing a cover by Tony Bennett. That never happened, of course, although Balin’s emotive delivery made it an unlikely addition to an album known mostly for psychedelic suggestion. Jerry Garcia’s simple repetitive guitar figure adds to the track’s poignancy and design, but it’s Balin’s heart-wrenching vocal that ensured its searing embrace.

“The Other Side of This Life”  From “Bless Its Pointed Little Head”

A staple of the Airplane’s set during their prime, this Fred Neil composition was radically transformed as a fiery rocker by the time it made its appearance on the band’s early live album Bless Its Pointed Little Head. Another dynamic vocal duel between Balin and Slick, it acquired an undisputed urgency that turned it into one of the band’s most memorable rallying cries. “Would you like to know a secret just between you and me?” they ask in unison. It’s an entreaty the listener dared not resist.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

“RIP Marty Balin, fellow bandmate and music traveler passed last night,” Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady said in a statement. “A great songwriter and singer who loved life and music. We shared some wonderful times together. We will all miss you!!!!”

Marty and I were young together in a time that defined our lives,” Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen wrote on his blog. “Had it not been for him, my life would have taken an alternate path I cannot imagine. He and Paul Kantner came together and like plutonium halves in a reactor started a chain reaction that still affects many of us today. It was a moment of powerful synchronicity. I was part of it to be sure, but I was not a prime mover. Marty always reached for the stars and he took us along with him.”

Image result for skip spence

Remembering Alexander Lee “Skip” Spence, born on April 18th, 1946, born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada — he died on April 16yj, 1999.

He was co-founder of Moby Grape, and played guitar with them until 1969. The first Moby Grape album is probably in the Top 10 Psychedelica rock albums of all time! Skip released only one solo album, 1969’s Oar, and then largely withdrew from the music industry. He had started his career as a guitarist in an early line-up of Quicksilver Messenger Service, and was the drummer on Jefferson Airplane’s debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.
He has been described on the Allmusic website as “one of Psychedelia’s brightest lights”; however, his career was plagued by drug addictions coupled with mental health problems, and he has been described by a biographer as a man who “neither died young nor had a chance to find his way out.”

Described as “one of the most harrowing documents of pain and confusion ever made”,the album was recorded after Spence had spent six months in Bellevue Hospital. Spence had been committed to Bellevue following a delusion-driven attempt to attack his ex Moby Grape bandmates Don Stevenson and Jerry Miller with a axe.

In November 1968, Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence stepped outside Bellevue Hospital for the first time in five months. While he had dozens of new songs and sketches in his head, he was no longer a member of Moby Grape. He needed another outlet. Meeting with producer David Rubinson at a hotel in Manhattan, Spence hatched a plan to record his new material in Tennessee.

Receiving some advance money from Columbia, he bought a motorcycle, and… well, either he returned to his family in California, or he drove down to Nashville. The timeline and course of events is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that in early December, Spence entered Columbia’s Nashville studio on 16th Ave. Though his future was unclear, he was ready to embark on a solo project. It turned out to be a recording process – and record – like no other.

The 12 original songs on Oar communicate a whole range of emotions. Often, it’s as though Spence is whispering to us, stuck somewhere between accusation and confession. At times, he croons in a baritone, telling tales of travel and betrayal. Other times, he cracks himself up with his own wordplay. There are moments when his music veers towards the dreamy, others when the sense of intimacy is arresting.

After its original release in May 1969, Oar went out of print. Yet over the years it has returned to us again and again. When first released, Oar was not promoted by Columbia Records, despite pleadings fromproducer  Rubinson. It was at the time the lowest-selling album in Columbia Records history. Subsequent reissues have added ten more songs, in different stages of completion, to the original dozen. The original release ended with a fade out of “Grey / Afro”. The 1999 Sony/Sundazed reissue appends “This Time He Has Come” to a fade-less “Grey / Afro”, which reflects how the two songs appeared on the master tapes.

No ’60s concert scene was better documented than the San Francisco explosion . But of the official releases that came out at the time, the one to have is this Jefferson Airplane set, recorded during October ’68 dates at SF’s Fillmore West and a month later at Fillmore East in NYC. Here in that time between Monterey and Woodstock, between the albums “Crown Of Creation” and “Volunteers” , the band was growing daily in confidence, muscle and a knack for making the most of the moment. The constantly shifting dynamic of vocal triad Grace Slick, Marty Balin and Paul Kantner was a nimble beast, but more evident than ever was how much the tandem of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady formed the beating heart of this band.

Must-hear song: Balin’s “Plastic Fantastic Lover” has fury only hinted at on the Surrealistic Pillow studio version . But the real treasure is the version of folk figure Fred Neil’s written staunch and steely “The Other Side Of This Life” , a live Airplane staple from the early days, but never before seeing official release.

The cheat: Not only was it pieced together from several dates, some of the songs themselves are multi-date spliced jobs.

The live rock album really took flight at the end of the decade with Bay Area bands like The Grateful Dead “Live/ Dead”  Quicksilver Messenger Service  “Happy trails” , Big Brother & the Holding  Company(parts of ’68’s ) Cheap Thrills . It made perfect sense: part of the San Francisco mystique was the live experience, the sense of community and unpredictability, bands being given the space—and the state-of-the-art sound systems to take winding (and long) musical trips. With , a combination of 1968 recordings from the Fillmores East and West on both coasts,

The Airplane

Jefferson Airplane made one of the defining albums of the band’s career, with dynamic vocal interplay among its three singers (Marty Balin, Grace Slick, Paul Kantner), a blues spotlight for guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and Rock Me  , a swirling rendition of Donovan’s “Fat Angel” (“Fly Jefferson Airplane, gets you there on time,” it goes, making this a self-referential self-tribute), and a soaring 3/5 of a Mile In Ten Seconds . The Airplane were a strange amalgam, part post-folk (there’s a terrific take on Fred Neil’s “The Other Side Of Life” on ‘Pointed Little Head’), part psychedelic rock, part electric blues, and it could all get scattered, but when it locked in, they were one of the more mesmeric of the groups who came out of San Francisco scene. If you want to get a sense of what made them, on a good night, so special, you can start here.

This poster is sure to become a cornerstone of the finest quality Bill Graham poster collection. Other 9.0+ example may eventually surface, but none will ever exceed this mind boggling example! It will take a very strong bid to acquire this museum piece but history shows that today’s stretch price is tomorrow incredible bargain. The key is to be the colector that actually ends up with finest known classic rarities such as this!

Poster – Jefferson Airplane, Fillmore Auditorium

Catalog #BG-17
Grade – CGC Grade 9.8
Bands/Bill – Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead
Venue – Fillmore Auditorium
City – San Francisco, CA
Date –7/15-17/66
Dimensions – 13 7/8”x 20 3/64”
Printing – OP-1, Original Pre-Concert First Printing
Artist – Wes Wilson
Series/Promoter – Bill Graham
Paper Type – Vellum
Condition Deatils- Absolutely Superb. Razor sharp pinpoint colors, bright fresh colors and flawless paper. Unimprovable condition for the collector that only the best will do. Could be many years until a comparable example surfaces, the time to act is NOW!

Jeffair.jpg

With a new singer, Grace Slick, who also happened to bring a pair of classic songs with her (“Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”), Jefferson Airplane’s second album in part defined the Summer of Love. The band was one of the best in San Francisco, whose scene helped shape an entire era. ‘Surrealistic Pillow,’ is a pinnacle of that period.

Surrealistic Pillow was the second album by the American psych rock band, released on February 1st, 1967, by RCA Victor. It is the first album by the band with vocalist Grace Slick and drummer Spencer Dryden

Original drummer Alexander Skip Spence had left the band in mid-1966. He was soon replaced by Dryden, an experienced Los Angeles jazz drummer and the half-nephew of Charlie Chaplin. New female vocalist Slick, formerly with another San Francisco rock band The Great Society , joined the Airplane in the fall of 1966. Slick, Dryden, lead vocalist Marty Balin, guitarist-vocalist-songwriter  Paul Kantner, lead guitarist (and occasional vocalist) Jorma Kaukonen , and bassist Jack Casady formed the core of the best-known line-up of the group, which remained stable until Dryden’s departure in early 1970.

Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick is also known for that powerhouse voice – responsible for classics like  ‘White Rabbit’. At a time when studio production was limited and live concerts were almost always dominated by an incredibly loud band in direct competition with an even louder audience, it made it difficult to fully appreciate voices like Grace Slick’s; but it’s in this isolated vocal track from ‘White Rabbit’ that we’re able to finally concentrate on the star of the song .

The album is considered to be one of the quintessential works of the early psychedelic rock.

Image may contain: one or more people and crowd

Surrealistic Pillow was the first blockbuster psychedelic album by a band from San Francisco.

Jefferson Airplane recorded their own version of the song for their controversial fifth album, “Volunteers”.

When Crosby, Stills & Nash released their eponymous debut album in 1969, there was only one co-write on it (which would be the norm for future albums by the group). That Woodstock-era song, which became a classic both on its own and as part of an album that helped shape the musical tastes of a generation, was “Wooden Ships.”

Written by Stephen Stills, David Crosby, and Crosby’s onetime roommate, Jefferson Airplane/Starship’s Paul Kantner, “Wooden Ships” is generally interpreted as a veiled look at the aftermath of nuclear holocaust. The song was written during a period when the threat of a final nuclear war was uppermost in so many minds, during the ‘60s crisis in Indochina and heightened tensions between the United States and the USSR. Artists like Barry McGuire, with his throaty “Eve of Destruction,” and songwriting satirist Tom Lehrer, with his pretty-damned-funny “We Will All Go Together When We Go,” addressed the same theme. But CSN, with their wonderful harmonies and Stills’ great performance on several instruments, made a thing of beauty from a decidedly less-than-cheery premise.   

Crosby told the website MusicRadar in 2012 that the song is, indeed, about a dismal subject that numerous books and movies had addressed before, and have made millions of dollars from since, from The Time Machine to The Terminator. “I had that set of (chord) changes,” Crosby said. “Stephen added to them … and we all wrote the song. It’s a post-apocalyptic story. The world has gone to hell … The idea was that we were sort of sailing away from that madness. It’s the song that Jackson [Browne] wrote For Everyman in response to. It’s him saying, ‘Hey, we don’t all have a sailboat to sail away in. We have to stay here and fix it for everybody. That’s a fantasy that you’re writing.’” Kantner and his Jefferson Airplane bandmates recorded their own version of the song shortly after CSN’s for their controversial fifth album, Volunteers. JA’s version was awesome in its own right and is actually preferred by many, though it had a darker tone and less musicality than CSN’s.

It’s hard to think of a lyric much more depressing than Horror grips us as we watch you die/ All we can do is echo your anguished cries/ Stare as all human feelings die/ We are leaving, you don’t need us. Well, nearly half a century later, the world is still here, but we still worry about and pontificate about an apocalyptic event as much now as we did then. And we probably will until, well, until it happens. In the meantime, we can keep hoping and praying for a wooden ship for the survivors to sail away in.

Exhibits_Vietnam_Music_WoodenShips

thanks to Rick Moore

Paul Kantner; dead

Founding member ,Paul Kantner guitarist and singer for Jefferson Airplane and Starship, died Thursday of multiple organ failure and septic shock. He had suffered a heart attack earlier in the week, according to San Francisco Chronicle. He was 74. The musician had been in ill health in recent years, with Kantner suffering a heart attack in March 2015,

With Jefferson Airplane, Kantner helped pioneer the oft-imitated psychedelic sound: simple, fuzzy guitar lines steeped in dreamlike reverb. The group formed in 1965 and, within a few years, scored hits with “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” In their first run, five of the band’s seven albums went gold, including 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow and 1968’s Crown of Creation.

Verging on a breakup in the early Seventies, Kantner recorded a solo album, “Blows Against the Empire”, with Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick, crediting it to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. The album was nominated for a Hugo Award presented to the best science-fiction and fantasy works. After formalizing the band Jefferson Starship, the band went on to greater commercial success than Jefferson Airplane, scoring platinum and gold records, including the double-platinum 1975 record Red Octopus. Kantner quit the group in 1984, but would rejoin in 1992 and continue to play with them until his death.

jefferson airplane somebody to love 300

“Our condolences go out to the friends, family and fans of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane on the news of his passing,” members of the Doors wrote on their Facebook page. “Music would not be the same without the sounds of The Doors and Jefferson Airplane, which both contributed so heavily to the signature sound of the Sixties and Seventies.”

Paul Lorin Kantner was born on March 17th, 1941 in San Francisco. His father was a traveling salesman, according to the Chronicle, and he was sent to military school after his mother’s death. He found inspiration in science-fiction books and folk music, dropping out of college to pursue music.

Jefferson Airplane came together after Kantner began playing in a folk group with former actor turned singer and guitarist Marty Balin and vocalist Signe Toly Anderson. The group subsequently brought in guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Cassidy. Balin plucked Skip Spence, a guitarist, for drums because he “looked like a drummer,” and with the first lineup complete they commenced playing rock reminiscent of early Beatles, folk, blues and ballads. The year they formed, they became the first San Francisco band to sign to a major label.

The group’s 1966 debut, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, was a modest hit, charting in the lower half of the Top 200, but their fortune would change when lineup changes would welcome model-turned-singer Grace Slick, who’d been playing with the Great Society, into the fold.

With her powerful voice, the band recorded their breakthrough hits and became one of the defining bands of acid rock’s free-love movement, printing bumper stickers that read “Jefferson Airplane Loves You.” Their 1967 album, Surrealistic Pillow – which marked a turn toward more understated guitar playing with overtones of jazz and even Indian sensibility – brought the “San Francisco sound” to the mainstream. Later that year, they’d score a lesser hit with “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil,” a harder-rocking song that Kantner wrote that would become the lead track on their After Bathing at Baxter’s album.

Kantner’s writing would become more politicized toward the end of the Sixties, and as Jefferson Airplane became falling apart – with Kaukonen and Cassidy forming Hot Tuna – and Balin leaving, the guitarist stepped into a larger role. He and Slick collaborated with several other San Francisco musicians.

After putting out Blows Against the Empire, which featured members of Crosby, Stills and Nash and the Grateful Dead, Kantner and Slick formed Jefferson Starship. Balin returned to the fold in time for Red Octopus, a Number One album, and the group’s mainstream rock ambitions came into focus. The album’s lush “Miracles” earned them a Number Three hit, and their next two albums – 1976’s Spitfire and 1978’s Earth – would also earn them Top 10 singles. By 1980, though, Kantner was the only original Jefferson Airplane member left in the lineup. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that year but recovered and continued with the band.

In 1984, he left the group and formed a legal agreement with the other members that they could not use the “Jefferson” name without the approval of all respective members. Slick kept her band’s momentum with Starship, which earned a big hit with “We Built This City,” without Kantner.

Kantner and Jefferson Airplane would reform in 1989, when they put out a self-titled album, and again in 1996, when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Kantner put together Jefferson Starship – The Next Generation in 1992, which led to a trademark infringement suit with his former bandmates. He would continue to play with them, eventually dropping the Star Trek-y part of their name and putting out two albums, until his death.

Outside of his main bands, Kantner recorded two albums with Slick and a 1983 solo record, Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. He also recorded with the KBC Band, which featured fellow Airplane members Balin and Cassidy.

Kantner is survived by three children: Gareth, Alexander and China.

Triad” is a song written by David Crosby in 1967 about a ménage à trois, a subject perfectly in keeping with the “free love” and hippie philosophies of the day. The song was written while Crosby was a member of the rock band The Byrds, who were at that time recording their fifth studio album, “The Notorious Byrd Brothers“. 

On this studio demo above of the song recorded by just Crosby and his Martin guitar its a softer acoustic demo of this song…recorded at a studio in Hollywood, he came in barefoot with a guitar straped across his back…and I set up 2 mics..one for him and one for his Martin, and he just did it . 

Although the band did record “Triad” and perform it live during a September 1967 engagement at the Whisky a Go Go, it was eventually not included on the final release of “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” album.  According to Crosby, Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman felt that its subject-matter was too controversial with McGuinn allegedly deriding the song as a “freak-out orgy tune. However, this has since been denied by Hillman who has stated “I don’t think it was a moral decision. The song just didn’t work that well. David Crosby was drifting and bored and he wanted to do something else, and that song just added fuel to the fire. “Notorius Byrd Bros” would have broke big if they had kept this song and ditched that awful opening track “Artificial Energy” …..Triad was perfect for its time and would have put the Byrds right back at cutting edge status. I think the exclusion of this song from Notorious was the nail in the coffin for his days as a Byrd. And his behavior at Monterey didn’t help or his guesting with the Springield there didn’t help. Or his being adamant against ‘Goin’ Back’ being on Notorious. Regardless, David had emerged as a writer of great skill and his songs needed to be heard. They were and still are!  – Although the decision to keep this song off the Notorious LP may have played a minor role, it was the power struggle between McGuinn and Crosby that led to David’s dispatch from the group.

There had been growing animosity between Crosby and the rest of the band throughout 1967. Tensions had arisen from several factors, including Crosby’s displeasure over the band’s wish to record the GoffinKing composition Goin’ Back, his fraternization with fellow L.A. musicians, and his controversial remarks to the audience during The Byrds’ performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. These factors, along with the discord over “Triad”, contributed to McGuinn and Hillman’s decision to fire Crosby in October 1967. Crosby then gave the song to Jefferson Airplane, who recorded it on their 1968 album,Crown of Creation.  Airplane did it after the Byrds told Crosby they were not going to include it on their next album.  He got pissed off and gave it to airplane. 

A Live version of the song “Triad” was later included on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s 1971 album, 4 Way Street
David Crosby certainly shone more brightly as a solo artist with CSN; but the Byrds moved on to pioneer the genre of Country-Rock which, despite the insulting lack of recognition from the industry today, ultimately shaped the future of the Country music genre.
Also here is a version of “Triad” by the Icicle Works it is great!  the band recorded “Triad” as a medley with another Byrds’ song, Chestnut Mare, on the 1989 Byrds’ tribute album Time Between – A Tribute to The Byrds.
‘Why should we all stop at three’ . Now that’s a good last line for the song!
Fantastic song.