Jefferson Airplane-Takes Off

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE-TAKES OFF
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE-TAKES OFF(1966)

 

The Jefferson Airplane is a psychedelic rock band that formed in San Francisco, California in 1965. They are considered the seminal band that helped shape the San Francisco Sound in the psychedelic era in the mid to late 1960’s. The band is considered one of the most influential groups of the era from San Francisco, rivaled only by The Grateful Dead.

Early Jefferson Airplane with Signe Toly Anderson.

The original, “classic” members of the group were Grace Slick, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, and Spencer Dryden. However, their debut record was recorded before Grace Slick joined the band. Signe Toly Anderson was on the first record, but left shortly after it’s release in 1966, and was replaced by Slick.

The Jefferson Airplane’s debut record, Takes Off, was released in August 1966. As stated before, Grace Slick was not on the album.

Takes Off is considered to be the beginnings of a genre of music that was to define the counterculture movement of the middle to late sixties and into the early seventies. It is an important work, with a fresh, new sound that would become known as the San Francisco Sound. It was not, in my opinion, a record that broke new ground musically, there was no great surprises here, just a well executed debut record that was very listenable and enjoyable. What was to become by the next record would be monumental in the history of rock music. But the debut was something new, but unextraordinary.

There are two notable cover songs on the record, Tobacco Road, and Let’s Get Together. Both songs are covered by other bands also, and are very popular in American culture. The Youngbloods had a big hit with their version of Let’s Get Together, titled Get Together in 1967. The Jefferson Airplane did a good job of covering both songs.

The song that kicks off  Jefferson Airplane’s recording career, and arguably the psychedelic movement in general, is Blues From An Airplane, the first song on Takes Off. It is a worthy track, and shows the musical proficiency of the band, and the formation of a new sound.

The second song on the record, Let Me In, was considered highly sexual for the times, and there are two versions, one censored, and one uncensored. By today’s standards, it wouldn’t be an issue. It is a great song, with some excellent guitar work in the middle of the track. Great early psychedelia.

Bringing Me Down is a classic psychedelic song with that psychedelic guitar style that would become so prevalent and recognisable in the genre.

It’s No Secret is my favorite song on the record, with Marty Balin’s spectacular vocals which make the song work so well. The guitar work in the middle of the track is classic psychedelia, a preview of what was to come.

Another one of the best songs on the debut is Come Up The Years, a track that starts out slow, with beautiful vocals and lyrics. It is a song about a man who is interested in a younger woman, and lamenting that she is not older. When I listen to this song, I get that feeling, as I so often do, that I wish I was a bit older, so I could experience that it was like to be around in the psychedelic era. The best music, from the greatest era, in my opinion.

Run Around is another song that was considered controversial, and has a censored and an uncensored version. It starts off with a twangy guitar intro, and great vocals. This is another highly enjoyable tune, classic sixties feel.

Don’t Slip Away is a good track, one of the weaker songs on the record, in my opinion, but nevertheless quite enjoyable. There are no bad songs on the record, and even the weaker one’s are very musically  sound, and all have great vocals.

Chauffeur Blues is a song that is lead by Signe Toly Anderson singing lead vocals, and is a straightforward blues piece. It is a good song, but I consider it to be one of the weaker songs on the record, considering that the majority of the rest of the album is excellent.

The last song on the record, And I Like It, is a bluesy piece that starts of with some jazzy drums, and is sung beautifully by Marty Balin. A good tune made great with the Balin vocals.

When listening to this record, there is some important musical history taking place. It is a great debut for one of the most influential bands in rock history. The Jefferson Airplane help launch a revolution, both musically and culturally, and are considered the cream of the crop in the world of psychedelic music.

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quicksilver Messenger Service

QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE(1968)

 

 Quicksilver Messenger Service

 

Quicksilver Messenger Service was a psychedelic rock band that got their start in San Francisco, California in 1965. The band originally consisted of David Freiberg, Gary Duncan, Greg Elmore, and John Cipollina.

They are known for their classic psychedelic guitar sound, and their long jam songs, that lead to the comparison to their San Francisco band neighbors The Grateful Dead. Their jam songs were more polished and rehearsed than The Dead, who were more into improvisation.

Though Quicksilver Messenger Service never became as popular as fellow San Francisco area bands The Grateful Dead and The Jefferson Airplane, they did become very successful not only in San Francisco, but for psychedelic music lovers all over the world. They have many top 40 albums to their credit.

Quicksilver Messenger Service is the self titled debut album of the band that was released in 1968. It is a short record, just under thirty two minutes, but the final song on the album, The Fool, comes in at over twelve minutes. It is a masterful work, with awesome guitar work throughout the song, and in some spots, reminds me of The Doors classic tune The End.

The album starts out with a catchy cover song, Pride Of Man, that is one of my favorites on this short album. Many musicians and bands covered Pride Of Man, but Quiksilver’s version is considered one of the best.

Dino’s Song is classic San Francisco psychedelic rock, commonly known as the San Francisco Sound. This song represents this part of the genre that is quintessential San Francisco with echos of The Airplane as well as The Dead, and many other lesser known bands of the area. It is a great song, that is immediately recognisable as being West Coast San Francisco psychedelia.

The next song is Gold and Silver, a instrumental piece that has jazz elements to it, great jazz drums, as well as what could be considered smooth jazzy guitar work. All the while maintaining its strong psychedelic guitar feel in parts of the song.  This instrumental is very underrated in my opinion, and I feel this is one of the better instrumental pieces of the psychedelic era.

It’s Been Too Long is another psychedelic song with great guitar work, but this one has a little bit of a country feel to it. It shows the musical range of the band, from rock, to psychedelia, to jazz and country.

Much of the guitar work on the record has a bit of a twang to it, which gives the album as a whole a bit of a country feel to it. Not so much that it is a predominant part of the music,but it supports it. A great blend of sounds that gives the album a sophisticated, clean feel.

The last song on the album, The Fool, is a lengthy, twelve minute jam that is outstanding. There are times during the song where the guitarwork is is masterful, as stated before, but is worth repeating. It is one of the greatest jams every recorded in my opinion. When performing in concert, Quicksilver would extend this song into a longer jam. It is worth the price of the cd for this song alone. Outstanding record from beginning to end, some of the best music of the psychedelic era.

Rating: A


 

Grace Slick & The Great Society-Collector’s Item

GRACE SLICK & THE GREAT SOCIETY-COLLECTOR’S ITEM(Reissue single cd 1971. Recorded 1965-1966)

 

 

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.

Rating: A


 

Country Joe And The Fish-Electric Music For The Mind And Body

COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH-ELECTRIC MUSIC FOR THE MIND AND BODY(1967)

 

Country Joe McDonald- Vocals, Guitar, Bells, Tambourine

Barry Melton- Vocals, Guitar

David Cohen- Guitar, Organ

Bruce Barthol- Bass, Harmonic

Gary “Chicken” Hirsh- Drums

 

Country Joe and the Fish were a band that got their start in Berkeley, California in 1965. They were considered an influential band in the beginning of the psychedelic and acid rock movement in the middle to late sixties. Electric Music for the Body and Mind was their debut record released in 1967, and was one of the first psychedelic albums released in the San Francisco Bay area. It is considered to be one of the most important records of the psychedelic era in music in the late sixties.

Country Joe and the Fish were known for their political and cultural songs that intended to be critical of the circumstances in the United States at the end of the sixties. Critical of government and policy, but also describing what life was like in the counterculture movement in the country at the time. Their music sometimes showed a total disdain for the Vietnam war, the United States Presidency, and other issues of the day. Electronic Music for the Body and Mind is not only their debut, but also contained their only charting single, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, and on this record also contained some of their most experimental songs. There are many arrangements consisting of organ along with the coupling of guitars which attributed to the sound that would become known as acid rock.

Three songs off the record, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine, Section 43, and Grace, were regularly played on local radio stations in San Francisco, which even though were never national hits, were very popular in the Bay area.

 

Section 43 is one of my favorite songs on the album, an experimental, instrumental piece that was innovative, and set the groundwork for the sound that would be recognised as acid rock, with its screeching organ, which works well for the hippie experience of the times. It is the longest song on the record. Turn the lights off and turn the lava lamp on, it is the perfect song to catch the feel and the aura of the sixties. Great stuff!

Super Bird is a short song that takes shots at Lyndon Baines Johnson, the President of the United States at the time that the record was recorded. It is a political song expressing the bands displeasure with his policies and the way the country was heading, especially when it came to the handling of the Vietnam War.

 

The Masked Marauder is another instrumental, with excellent organ work, that is, to me, the most recognisable song on the record. Whenever I think of this record, this is the song that is the most satisfying listen, and remains with me long after I hear it. It has a great guitar solo in the middle of the song, and except for the La La La, which is the only lyric, it is one of my favorite instrumentals of the psychedelic era.

The last song on the record, Grace, is the second longest song on the record at just over 7 minutes, and is a song  dedicated to Grace Slick, lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane. This a great psychedelic record, excellent from beginning to end. If you want to hear rock music the way it was produced in the era of the late sixties, the sound musically represented, and the social commentary of the times, this is one of the best.

Rating: A