The Great Society was a psychedelic band that got it’s start in San Francisco, California in 1965. Though the band was a unit for only around a year, they laid the groundwork for the psychedelic, counterculture movement that originated in San Francisco. The band had a very popular, and soon to be mega famous lead singer, Grace Slick. She was at the head of the psychedelic era, and although famous in the San Francisco area at the time of The Great Society, she would become an absolute star when she joined The Jefferson Airplane in 1966, around a year after The Great Society began.
The Great Society included Grace’s then husband Jerry Slick, as well as her brother in law, Darby, Jerry’s brother. They were inspired by The Beatles, and got their name from President Lyndon Johnson, who was President at the time, who’s policies of The Great Society was a popular phrase of the time.
Grace Slick & The Great Society Collector’s Item is a reissue of their previous two albums, Conspicuous Only In Its Absence and How It Was released as a double album and single cd. It is considered a precursor to the Psychedelic music scene known as The San Francisco Sound.
Both of the Great Society’s only records were concerts performed at The Matrix in San Francisco. The sound quality is not bad and it catches the band playing some covers and originals, and Slick’s voice is beautiful. One can tell that she would be a rising star in psychedelic music. Every song, in my opinion is quality, both musically and vocally. This is one of the best records to listen to in order to get a great taste of what was to be forthcoming in the genre of psychedelic rock.
The first song on the record is a cover tune called Sally Go Round’ The Roses, originated by a group called the Jaynetts. The Great Society does an excellent cover of this song. It starts of the record nicely and shows the musicianship of the band, and the voice of Slick.
Didn’t Think So is another song that is mellow, and brings out the beauty in Slick’s voice. Someone To Love is the name of the original song performed by the band, and though normally associated with the Jefferson Airplane, is actually a Grace Slick original written by her brother in-law Darby, before she became the lead singer of the Airplane. It was the only song by The Great Society that charted. Of course, the Airplane would make it their own, change the name to Somebody To Love, and turn it into a bigger hit. Both versions are different, and personally, I like The Great Society’s version a bit better.
The Great Society played a cover of Bob Dylan’s Outlaw Blues on the record, and shows the range of Slick’s voice, from singing psychedelic rock, to the blues, without missing a beat. Her singing shines throughout the record, and would become unmistakable in rock music for years to come.
White Rabbit was another hit for the Jefferson Airplane that was first Slick’s song with The Great Society, and would become one of the Airplane’s finest. As with Somebody To Love, the Great Society’s version was quite different than that of the Airplane. And once again, I like the Society’s version better. This version is quite a bit longer than the Airplane’s hit, with a much longer, and in my opinion, better intro. Although, the radio version is more haunting sounding, just much shorter.
The last song on the record is Father, the longest song, and an awesome instrumental that features great guitarwork, sax, and though no vocals on this one, Grace Slick contributes in other ways. This is an excellent way to wind down the brief recording career of The Great Society. Though their career was very short with the lineup that the band had, they are considered important in the development of the San Francisco Sound, and psychedelic music in general. And the band propelled Grace Slick onto The Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and then finally, Starship. She is considered one of the best female vocalists in rock music. A must have album for psychedelic music fans.