Jefferson Airplane

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I've ended up with the first 4 albums box set - swopped for a load of unwanted stuff at R&TE. I'm struggling - it's horrible. It's shit. How does one approach Jefferson Airplane? I HATE the harmony vocals, I hate Grace Slick. 'Someone To Love' is one of the two songs of theirs I've heard before and it's a good song ruined by Slick's shrill, strident nag. No mystery there, no shade.

The first album is OK in a Leaves, Byrds, sub-Arthur Lee kind of way. The other three - ugh! SUCH a thin production, even for the times, the guitars flop and wallow when they need to drive and push. Kankonen does a few interesting things and I like someo f Casady's bass ideas, but really they're just weak. I can't really comment on the lyrics/sentiments expressed as they may as well be singing in swahili for all the sense the make.

So - am I missing something?

Dr. C (Dr. C), Friday, 27 June 2003 06:31 (sixteen years ago) link

Nope. They have, I think, about 3 1/2 good songs. 'White Rabbit' is a boring novelty song, blah blah.

Andrew Thames (Andrew Thames), Friday, 27 June 2003 06:35 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes. "Lather" is great

dave q, Friday, 27 June 2003 06:39 (sixteen years ago) link

That's one of my 3 1/2. Also 'Won't You Try', the live version, and I can't remember the others.

Andrew Thames (Andrew Thames), Friday, 27 June 2003 06:41 (sixteen years ago) link

Lather is awful - she sings like a schoolteacher leading the class through 'all things bright and beautiful'. And as for the wierd noises and voices-off....

Dr. C (Dr. C), Friday, 27 June 2003 07:26 (sixteen years ago) link

What, didn't you have a HAWT music teacher when you were 10?

dave q, Friday, 27 June 2003 07:30 (sixteen years ago) link

ah, so THAT'S why you're so talented

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 27 June 2003 07:32 (sixteen years ago) link

I like "White Rabbit," mainly because Alice in Wonderland (and haha Go Ask Alice) is one of my favorite books evah. Otherwise, by far the most overrated hippie band in the world. Grace Slick's voice is like having an ice-pick repeatedly jammed in your ear and the other singers are just bleh. The songs are widdly go-nowhere shit, except the one I just mentioned and "Someone to Love," which was better when it was done by S*y St*ne, who's so great he doesn't even deserve to be named in the same post as JA.

They're even worse than the Grateful Dead - at least the Dead didn't evolve into some horrible genetic mutation like "Dead Starship."

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Friday, 27 June 2003 07:52 (sixteen years ago) link

It's strange, because I can "stand" Surrealistic Pillow in a way that I can't stand the Dead. I think it's just cause I'm so used to that "wailing women" style of hippie singing because my dad listened to so much of it.

kate (kate), Friday, 27 June 2003 07:54 (sixteen years ago) link

TS: Grace Slick vs. Genya Ravan vs. Sandi Robinson vs. Mariska Veres

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 27 June 2003 08:10 (sixteen years ago) link

Surrealistic Pillow is OK. I don't really see what's so annoying about Grace Slick's voice, but then again I love Joni Mitchell so I'm probably immune to wailing hippies. Some of the accoustic stuff on it is pretty pleasant

Fabrice (Fabfunk), Friday, 27 June 2003 08:39 (sixteen years ago) link

Grace Slick is a "wailing hippie"? I always thought she was some kind of pre-deathrock ice queen with a booming intimidating voice.

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 27 June 2003 08:49 (sixteen years ago) link

cf. "White Rabbit" as covered by the Damned

Jody Beth Rosen (Jody Beth Rosen), Friday, 27 June 2003 08:50 (sixteen years ago) link

i think they didn't "record" well

i heart "white rabbit", its songform is ABCDEFGHI.....

mark s (mark s), Friday, 27 June 2003 08:51 (sixteen years ago) link

I still adore that song, maybe cuz I heard surprising late (ie. 3 years ago!)

Fabrice (Fabfunk), Friday, 27 June 2003 08:56 (sixteen years ago) link

what JBR said re Slick. I like her almost as much as I like Nico. Which = 'a shitload'

dave q, Friday, 27 June 2003 09:25 (sixteen years ago) link

I like the "2400 Fulton Street" compilation - I think that's probably mostly stuff from the first few albums.

My favourite song of theirs might be "Comin' back to me".

James Ball (James Ball), Friday, 27 June 2003 09:40 (sixteen years ago) link

my problem with jefferson airplane was always balin's irritating, keening voice - i can get into just about any grace-dominated song but it took me quite a while to learn to ignore him enough to enjoy their stuff.

i still say "surrealistic pillow" and "after bathing at baxter's" are masterpieces, nuts to you all.

your null fame (yournullfame), Friday, 27 June 2003 13:30 (sixteen years ago) link

Embryonic Journey, thats about it.

Chris V. (Chris V), Friday, 27 June 2003 13:36 (sixteen years ago) link

i thought Santana was "embryonic Journey"

dave q, Friday, 27 June 2003 13:40 (sixteen years ago) link


Chris V. (Chris V), Friday, 27 June 2003 13:40 (sixteen years ago) link

Technically Jorma Kaukonen

Chris V. (Chris V), Friday, 27 June 2003 13:42 (sixteen years ago) link

At least for a while, a great great band. And Grace and Marty are two of my favorite singers evah.

Sean (Sean), Friday, 27 June 2003 14:22 (sixteen years ago) link

Jefferson Airplane + Clash = X

Grace also beat Courtney to (Man)hole.

Chris Clark (Chris Clark), Friday, 27 June 2003 14:45 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, you guys are high... or should be - Surrealistic Pillow is a gem, a perfect snapshot of a time and a place - the production rules, the playing is excellent, and they were the one SF band that actually had HITS. Moby Grape made a better record, but 'Pillow' is pretty subversive stuff to actually get played on the radio.

andy, Friday, 27 June 2003 17:21 (sixteen years ago) link

I love JA,'After Bathing at Baxter's','Crown of Creation'& 'Volunteers' are all suberb.Much more interesting than any contemporary rock.

Paul R (paul R), Friday, 27 June 2003 18:05 (sixteen years ago) link

their third album ('baxters') is fucking amazing. give it a try and report back.

j fail (cenotaph), Friday, 27 June 2003 18:32 (sixteen years ago) link

one year passes...
"I Saw You" and "Today" are brilliant (the latter was sampled to great effect by Black Sheep)

eman (eman), Monday, 7 February 2005 08:41 (fifteen years ago) link

oops "I Saw You" = "Comin' Back To Me"

eman (eman), Monday, 7 February 2005 08:43 (fifteen years ago) link

Here's a chance to laugh at one of my absurd changes of mind - I am really enjoying Airplane now!

Dr. C (Dr. C), Monday, 7 February 2005 09:57 (fifteen years ago) link

Try Hot Tuna next, then. (Especially if you still like Jorma & Jack's bits.)

Actually, if Grace's autobiography is to be believed, Jack's bits were enormous.

Mooro (Mooro), Monday, 7 February 2005 17:17 (fifteen years ago) link

I love them too much to be objective, but I think Crown of Creation is their most consistent, Baxter's their most interesting, and Bark their most wild-cardy. I noticed that Kantner's input hasn't been brought up yet: I enjoyed his "historical period" (Bark, Long John Silver) when his lyrics seemed like an intro Joseph Campbell course.

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Monday, 7 February 2005 17:35 (fifteen years ago) link

"White Rabbit" and "Mexico." I like those songs.
They're so embarrassing in that footage from "Gimme Shelter," up there. Pretty fucking awful band.

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Monday, 7 February 2005 17:42 (fifteen years ago) link

after bathing is the one

'rejoyce' is incredible, as is 'two heads' (it invents the first throwing muses lp, which is high praise AFAIC)

it's all about slick

also that shrill, treble-bright, highly-strung feel running through the record seems a lot closer to the acid experience than more blissy gambolling through the meadows type stuff

blissblogga, Monday, 7 February 2005 17:43 (fifteen years ago) link

"white rabbit" is corny and overrated.

eman (eman), Monday, 7 February 2005 18:08 (fifteen years ago) link

The more you listen to Amon Duul II, the more you realise how much they owe to Jefferson Airplane - but I still prefer ADII. The vocals are a big problem with Jefferson Airplane, I like Grace Slick (tho in small doses) but I hate those songs where everybody in the band bellows along regardless of harmony, tune, metre etc etc etc. "Baxters" has good things on it but too many of the songs sound alike and the noodling experimental stuff on it is shite - "Spare Chaynge"? Give us a break.

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 8 February 2005 20:56 (fifteen years ago) link

Apparently, The Jesus and Mary Chain used to cover "Somebody to Love" live, but I've yet to find a recording.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Tuesday, 8 February 2005 21:00 (fifteen years ago) link

jefferson airplane make 90% of the current "psych" glut completely superfluous. you can feel the fuckedupedness in every drum hit, guitar stutter and hippie wailing moment. classic.

deru, Wednesday, 9 February 2005 07:31 (fifteen years ago) link

at this point, it's very easy to take the entire JA career out of context, thanks to time and what they did after. which kinda sucked.

BUT, if you can look beyond what they became and trim away the tripe, there's gems in there. personally, i only have the '66-'70 stuff. so, they go from stoner-hippie to LSD laced acrobatics to neo-revolutionary types in the scope of 4 years and make some great tunes. alot of "takes off" can be forgetable based on the sentiments, but it's actually pretty solid. "pillow", as much as it's overplayed, still has some highlights on it. "baxters" is my favorite, as it's the most tripped out stuff. "crown" has some holdover from that."volunteers" also has moments, but is also the last JA album where everyone's contributing, and for me, that's where it ends.

eedd, Wednesday, 9 February 2005 17:41 (fifteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
just got "after bathing at baxters", it's excellent.

eman (eman), Saturday, 5 March 2005 04:41 (fourteen years ago) link

Better than the Beatles.

Frank Kogan (Frank Kogan), Wednesday, 9 March 2005 23:45 (fourteen years ago) link

I've loved "We Can Be Together" ever since its use in the 1979 documentary The War At Home. That song is a thing of beauty no matter what came before or after...

Pete Scholtes, Thursday, 10 March 2005 22:17 (fourteen years ago) link

Listened to "After Bathing At Baxter's" again recently - rubbish for the most part, worse than I remembered, they just aren't very good songwriters, the vocals are intensely irritating all the way thru the album and tho Jorma Kaukonen is an excellent guitarist I wish he'd play a little less. Right after it I played 13th Floor Elevators (2nd & 3rd albums) and they are just so much better in every single department, save boring ones like professionalism, technique and stuff like being able to play and sing in tune. Plus, I've realised all the bands who copied Jefferson Airplane (e.g. Fairport Convention, United States of America and Amon Duul II) are all light years better than them.

Dadaismus (Dada), Friday, 11 March 2005 10:29 (fourteen years ago) link

frank, please explain.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Friday, 11 March 2005 10:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah really, do.

A Viking of Some Note (Andrew Thames), Friday, 11 March 2005 12:28 (fourteen years ago) link

Dadaismus - the bass lines on every track of Baxter's are what do it for me. none of those bands you listed, Amon Duul 2 excepted, have such great bass playing.

eman (eman), Friday, 11 March 2005 13:46 (fourteen years ago) link

He is a good bass player but do you honestly listen to Jefferson Airplane for the bass playing? Very odd.

Dadaismus (Dada), Friday, 11 March 2005 13:48 (fourteen years ago) link

heh, i don't mean that's the sole reason i listen to them, but it gives them a trademark sound (at least on baxter's) that those other groups don't have.

eman (eman), Friday, 11 March 2005 18:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Can anyone point me to a well-written explanation of how they went from psychedelia in the 60s to slick synth-pop in the 80s? Because I just don't understand how one goes from "White Rabbit" to "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now".

Tantrum (Tantrum The Cat), Friday, 11 March 2005 19:25 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh, it's easy, it's the same way one goes from "Children of the Future" to "Abracadabra", or from "Paper Sun" to "Back in the High Life Again", or from "SWLABR" to "It's In the Way that You Use It". It's real easy.

Stormy Davis (diamond), Friday, 11 March 2005 19:30 (fourteen years ago) link

& the very early live sets by Jefferson Starship have the band playing tracks from at least Manhole live. I'm thinking of a few from 1974 that I have.

Stevolende, Saturday, 7 April 2018 06:25 (one year ago) link

I looked at a bunch of albums over the weekend that a friend's brother was scrapping, and ended up taking about 50. Best of all was a perfect copy of Flight Log, poster/book included. I've got all the JA albums except 30 Seconds Over Winterland, so I already have most of it, but it's something I always wanted and never bought at the time. I really noticed "Have You Seen the Saucers" for the first time--I've had Early Flight for ages, but somehow it escaped my attention. (I love "Mexico" so much, I guess I got sidetracked.) Great song. Christgau praises it in one CG entry, makes fun of it the next. He got it right the first time.

clemenza, Tuesday, 10 April 2018 00:55 (one year ago) link

Oops--it's not "Have You Seen the Saucers," it's "Have You Seen the Stars Tonite?" from Blows Against the Empire. Which I don't have, so that explains it.

clemenza, Tuesday, 10 April 2018 00:59 (one year ago) link

That whole LP is klassic!

absorbed carol channing's powers & psyche (morrisp), Tuesday, 10 April 2018 01:19 (one year ago) link

that album is great! it's a trip!

brimstead, Tuesday, 10 April 2018 01:47 (one year ago) link

Blows really is a great album - I especially get a kick out of 'Mau Mau Amerikon' cause it's like everyone assumed 'We Can Be Together' was the pinnacle of Kantner's revolution-speak lyrics and he went 'pff, I was just getting started', haha. "Rabid lover-feelin' the starch in your grin Callin' for acid cocaine and grass" etc

whitehallunity, Tuesday, 10 April 2018 02:39 (one year ago) link

Just listened to Manhole for the first time. This is killer! I feel as if - especially on the title track - this is how I always wanted to hear Grace Slick sing. Her obsession with Spanish music is right up front on those first two tracks.

Josefa, Friday, 13 April 2018 21:32 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

RIP Marty, goddamn what a voice.

brimstead, Friday, 28 September 2018 23:01 (one year ago) link

RIP, gonna spin "Coming Back To Me" when I get home

sleeve, Friday, 28 September 2018 23:03 (one year ago) link

What a voice, yes.

clemenza, Saturday, 29 September 2018 00:40 (one year ago) link

Today...I feel like pleasin you...more than before

calstars, Saturday, 29 September 2018 01:45 (one year ago) link

If you only you believe in Miracles...such a smooth yet haunted sounding voice.

earlnash, Saturday, 29 September 2018 04:50 (one year ago) link

so long marty, will always love those airplane records

I'd Rather Kecak (NickB), Saturday, 29 September 2018 06:07 (one year ago) link

Really saddened by this... such an amazing, smooth, sultry, sweet voice - whether on his own or as such a perfect counterpoint to Grace Slick. And an excellent songwriter too.

Lee626, Saturday, 29 September 2018 10:35 (one year ago) link

Damn, RIP

The nexus of the crisis (Sund4r), Saturday, 29 September 2018 13:16 (one year ago) link

There's a nice Facebook post from Jorma Kaukonen that showed up on my wall twice removed. It's a little long...would it be a breach of some sort to post it here? It looks like it was meant to be widely disseminated.

clemenza, Saturday, 29 September 2018 14:19 (one year ago) link

Easily my favorite vocalist of that group. Grace tends toward stridency and Paul couldn't sing a lick. His was a fine, blue eyed soul voice. Besides the obvious JA material, i always liked, nay loved his mid to late 70s JStarship tunes also. And even his solo hit Hearts, which would make a fine song for Al Green himself!

VyrnaKnowlIsAHeadbanger, Saturday, 29 September 2018 14:24 (one year ago) link

Went down into the crowd to try to stop things at Altamont and got punched

timellison, Saturday, 29 September 2018 19:49 (one year ago) link

Not only that, it looks like he got shoved off the stage @ around 4:40 in the clip

Ubering With The King (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 29 September 2018 20:10 (one year ago) link

I love his voice, yeah. The combination of his and Slick's really makes some of the early Jefferson Starship stuff for me.

The nexus of the crisis (Sund4r), Saturday, 29 September 2018 23:04 (one year ago) link

Seems like the world would have had a lot fewer people had "Miracles" not been written.

Ubering With The King (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 1 October 2018 03:08 (one year ago) link

It's an amazing song, the way it builds and swells, and yeah the sexiness of it. Very unique. I remember precisely where I was when I first heard it and probably so do a lot of people

Josefa, Monday, 1 October 2018 03:16 (one year ago) link

Today and With Your Love are my faves. eerie transcendent power of love.

Paul, Thursday, 4 October 2018 10:29 (one year ago) link

Old enough that I bought Spitfire on release, just as I was beginning to love the Airplane via Worst Of.

clemenza, Thursday, 4 October 2018 11:50 (one year ago) link

After Bathing at Baxters is yer man innit.
Quite quite scrumptuous.

Stevolende, Thursday, 4 October 2018 13:54 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

Long John Silver is a really solid album... sick guitar, great songs throughout.

Stash box 4 ever!

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 21:51 (three months ago) link

I bought a vinyl copy a couple months ago; the older clerk who checked me out paused to show his millennial employees the jacket photo of the weed and told them how lucky they were to not have to deal with such dirty, earthy pot.

a bevy of supermodels, musicians and Lena Dunham (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 22:02 (three months ago) link

Lol. A teachable moment

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 22:13 (three months ago) link

Listening to their Woodstock set now....

"All right, friends, you have seen the heavy groups... now you will see morning maniac music."

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 22:40 (three months ago) link

the 21-minute performance of “Wooden Ships”... 🤯

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 23:43 (three months ago) link

"All right, friends, you have seen the heavy groups... now you will see morning maniac music."

The previous night's/that early morning's lineup was (in order) Creedence, Sly, the Who, and then the Airplane. Pretty decent stretch of entertainment.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 23:55 (three months ago) link

I didn't seriously get into (or even hear a whole album by) Airplane until a year ago, and then suddenly I couldn't listen to anything but Baxter's, Crown, and Volunteers for weeks on end.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 23:59 (three months ago) link

three months pass...

always had the toughest time finding my way into these fools but man i'm fucking pretty hard w Volunteers.

A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Chooglin (will), Thursday, 13 February 2020 03:03 (one week ago) link

That’s the gateway.

Mocha Sauce (morrisp), Thursday, 13 February 2020 03:10 (one week ago) link

dig it. also

I am listening to Volunteers and I'm here to tell you that Nicky Hopkins is THE SECRET WEAPON.

― Curious George (1/6 Scale Model) (Rock Hardy),


A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Chooglin (will), Thursday, 13 February 2020 03:25 (one week ago) link

watched some clips of Slick on Letterman in the early-mid 80s. honestly she does seem cool af

A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Chooglin (will), Thursday, 13 February 2020 03:26 (one week ago) link

man, I was otm in the oughts, what happened

Hey Fredrick and DCBA-25 are my top 2

Miami weisse (WmC), Thursday, 13 February 2020 04:05 (one week ago) link

There's this commercial for a cruise line I see a lot right now that uses "White Rabbit." Very disorienting--I still find "White Rabbit" to be an audacious and hypnotic song, and the commercial just glides by the lines about logic and proportion and feeding your head. I don't get it, unless they hand out hallucinogenics on this particular cruise line.

clemenza, Thursday, 13 February 2020 04:48 (one week ago) link

They should’ve used “Wooden Ships.”

Mocha Sauce (morrisp), Thursday, 13 February 2020 04:56 (one week ago) link

i liek planes

sorry for butt rockin (Neanderthal), Thursday, 13 February 2020 04:58 (one week ago) link

Seaplanes...subaquarian boatcraft.

a bevy of supermodels, musicians and Lena Dunham (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 13 February 2020 05:12 (one week ago) link

Baxters is yer man. Or anything live in 1968. I think they started jamming live sometime in 67 and progressively got better over that year. But were playing possibly too fast by 1969.
So 68 is peak them live for me. I think the same year is true for QMS and the Dead were quite good that year too. Also the Big Brother & the Holding Co live from that year is pretty great. Not sure who else. Maybe it's just peak ballroom in general, people having somewhat improved in playing over the previous year and some members changed for other bands. QMS got rid of Jimmy and Grateful Dead gained Micky Hart.
Airplane had pretty stable membership from late 66 to late 69. Think that later date is when Dryden goes and Covington joins though could be 70.
Only recently realised that Covington was only around for one lp before being replaced by Barbata. I find Covington a bit plodding and heavy handed after Dryden being dextrous and sublime,like.

Stevolende, Thursday, 13 February 2020 09:02 (one week ago) link

On the topic of live 68 stuff, I had the luck to discover/watch a kinescope recording of an Airplane appearance on the Tonight Show from early 1968 at the Paley Center in NYC when I visited last year. It's part of an undated compilation of various 60s band appearances from the show, and when I talked to one of the curators about trying to dig up the exact date to help them, they didn't seem interested. This is the listing:

At the beginning, Carson says: “Jefferson Airplane is one of the most important and influential rock groups around. Originally from San Francisco, they’ve got a big sound, as everybody in Rockefeller Center found out this afternoon when they were running through this. They will be appearing Friday and Saturday night um, where at, I don’t believe I have it here... (Grace and Paul say “Fillmore” off camera) oh, yeah I’ve got it here, Fillmore East, so if you’re in the New York area you might want to drop over, would you welcome please, Jefferson Airplane!”

The performance is live and it kills. The set is really, really weird, with a rocking horse on the stage, a brass bed and lots of beads, random 'hip' junk etc. They open with a really slow version of Today, half the band hidden in the shadows wearing shades. They segue right into Somebody to Love and Grace is in top form, baiting the audience, saying "pick out the guy next to you, get somebody to love - what, is he too fat?". She's also wearing a military jacket with a grenade pinned to the pocket, as seen here:

There's actually audio floating around of this, mistakenly labeled as coming from the Jonathan Winters show - Crown of Creation at the end is from the Smothers Brothers show:

Anyways, as there's pretty much no chance of this ever being 'released' unfortunately, I'd definitely recommend going over to see it if you get a chance.

whitehallunity, Thursday, 13 February 2020 14:58 (one week ago) link

They played the Fillmore East May 3 and 4 (Fri/Sat), 1968 so the Tonight Show spot would've been just prior

Josefa, Thursday, 13 February 2020 16:35 (one week ago) link

man, I was otm in the oughts, what happened

better to be otm then not, than never to be otm at all is what i say.

A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Chooglin (will), Thursday, 13 February 2020 17:38 (one week ago) link

dig it. also

/I am listening to Volunteers and I'm here to tell you that Nicky Hopkins is THE SECRET WEAPON.

― Curious George (1/6 Scale Model) (Rock Hardy), /


Never knew about or paid attention to the piano here. Thanks!

Not sure this has been posted before, but if ye've never seen the Goddard-filmed rooftop concert in NYC 1968, it is awesome. Jack Cassidy is the coolest ever.

stop torturing me ethel (broom air), Friday, 14 February 2020 14:23 (one week ago) link

jack & jorma (and grace obv) look cool as shit

A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Chooglin (will), Friday, 14 February 2020 16:48 (one week ago) link

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