Classic Rock Bottom

Hidden Treasures Artist Showcase - The Real Jefferson Starships

Time for yet another Artist Showcase. This time it's the "Real" Jefferson Starship, were going knee deep, not in any Hoopla, but in Rock and Roll, you know before they built that city!



Blows Against The Empire

1 - Starship

Paul Kantner's debut solo album actually was credited to "Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship," the first use of the "Starship" billing, predating the formation of the group with that name by four years. Kantner used it, extrapolating on the name of his current band, Jefferson Airplane, to refer to Blows's science fiction concept: A bunch of left-wing hippies closely resembling his San Francisco Bay Area compatriots hijack a government-built starship and head off to re-start the human race on another planet. Kantner had presaged this post-apocalyptic colonization idea on "Wooden Ships" on the last Airplane album, Volunteers, and here he expanded it out to album length with the help of members of The Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, plus assorted others, a shifting supergroup informally known as PERRO, The Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra.

Dragon Fly

2 - Devil's Den

Credited to "Grace Slick/Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship," Dragon Fly was the transitional album between the various shifting aggregations Slick and Kantner had been recording with as Jefferson Airplane dissolved in the early '70s and the new Jefferson Starship (which essentially was the Airplane with a new guitarist and bassist -- Craig Chaquico and Pete Sears). But where such preceding efforts as Sunfighter, Manhole, and Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun had suffered from indulgence and a lack of focus, Dragon Fly, from the first note of its rocking leadoff track, "Ride the Tiger" (a chart single), was a unified effort.

Red Octopus

3 - There Will Be Love

Technically speaking, Red Octopus was the first album credited to Jefferson Starship, though practically the same lineup made Dragon Fly, credited to Grace Slick/Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship. The difference, however, was crucial: Marty Balin was once again a fully integrated bandmember, writing or co-writing five of the ten tracks. And there can be little doubt that it was Balin's irresistible ballad "Miracles," the biggest hit single in the Jefferson Whatever catalog, that propelled Red Octopus to the top of the charts, the only Jefferson album to chart that high and the best-selling album in their collective lives. This must have been sweet vindication for Balin, who founded Jefferson Airplane but then drifted away from the group as it veered away from his musical vision. Like Dragon Fly, Red Octopus reflected a multiplicity of musical tastes; there were ten credited songwriters, seven of whom were in the band. If there is any consistency in this material, it is in subject matter (love songs). The album is more ballad-heavy and melodic than the Airplane albums, which made it more accessible to the broader audience it reached.


4 - St. Charles

Spitfire was Jefferson Starship's 1976 follow-up to the chart-topping Red Octopus (1975), and it found the band in a cooperative mood. All seven bandmembers earned writing credits on at least one of the nine songs, along with eight outsiders, and even drummer John Barbata got a lead vocal on the simple rock & roll song "Big City." But the three main power centers in the group remained in place. Singer/guitarist Paul Kantner continued to turn out his lengthy, complex songs with their exhortatory, vaguely political lyrics (the five-minute "Dance with the Dragon" and the seven-minute "Song to the Sun: Ozymandias/Don't Let It Rain"). Singer Grace Slick contributed her own idiosyncratic compositions, simultaneously elliptical and passionately stated ("Hot Water" and "Switchblade"). And singer Marty Balin, whose romantic ballad "Miracles" had fueled the success of Red Octopus, wrote (or located) and sang more songs of love and pleasure ("Cruisin'," "St. Charles," "With Your Love," and "Love Lovely Love"). Weaving the three styles together were the fluid lead guitar work of Craig Chaquico and the alternating bass and keyboard playing of David Freiberg and Pete Sears. The result was an album that quickly scaled the charts, spending six consecutive weeks at number three in Billboard and going platinum.


5 - Love Too Good

The album was recorded in 1977, with the same band lineup as the previous album, Spitfire. The band had not toured in 1977, partly due to Marty Balin's reluctance to commit fully to the band. The song "Count on Me" became a Top-10 single, peaking at #8. The album itself hit #5 on the Billboard charts. A US and European tour followed which resulted in an audience riot in Germany after the band decided not to play without Grace Slick who was ill. They lost all their guitars and equipment during the riot and played one more tense show on German TV in Hamburg after which Grace left the band for one album. Marty Balin fronted the band for one more show at a Genesis concert at the Knebworth Festival in England using rented equipment. When they returned to the USA drummer John Barbata left the band after a serious car accident. This would be the end of the 1970s line-up and several new members joined the band, as well as a new record producer. Success of this album led to Jefferson Starship being contracted to provide a song for the Star Wars Holiday Special.

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No Modern Times????????????????????????

that incarnation was not one of the real Jefferson Starships

Fair enough, but I really like that album.

Jefferson Airplane - Starship or whatever. I have some interest in that band, and have tried a few times to "get in to" their albums, but it didn't sound like what I was "looking for" at those times. I was one of those, who bought the single "We Buildt This City" and liked it back in 1985.

1. Still hippies, it sounds like? Not bad, but I picture a lot of naked hippies dancin around, and that's both good and bad. Mostly bad. Too long a song, though. I don't really care for hippie-music, and therefore I'm no big fan of Hendrix for example. And maybe this.

2. Grace Slick has a good voice, but again...they still sound a bit like hippies. Still, it's not bad, but noting I would want to listen to again.

3. it wrong to mention Grateful Dead? Don't they kind of sound like this as well? The Dead I've heard, I kind of hated. I don't actually hate this, but it's goddamn near. No, hate is a strong word. I don't really care about this kind of music. I honestly don't know, which song is the best/worst so far, even though they sound different to each other. I guess, I just don't care.

4. Oh no, another 6+ minutes song!! And another "in through one ear - out the other"-song for me. Still not, I'm thinking Santana, probably because there's some guitar on this track, but...I don't care about Sanatana as well. I certainly prefer this band, as they were in the 80's...or 60's, I don't really know much about them to choose, but I guess we can rule of the 70's. 

5. 6+ minutes yet again!! The sound is more polished now, which is good to my ears. I like the guitar on this one, but the song ain't much better than the others. Always when I hear Slick, I think about, that she said in an interview once, that in the 60's she flashed her beaver a couple of times, at different concerts from the stage. Now that, I wish I'd seen. Back to the song...... Nah, this is definitely not for me. Interesting, though. I'll give you that.

Niels, who doesn't like naked hippies who flash their beavers?  I think you do to, you just wont admit it online...

Oh, but I do!! 

"Real" Jefferson Starships?

Now, who would make that decision whether one incarnation is "real" or not?

Scottie Gabbert?


That's like saying the "real" Styx was before Mt. Gowan. That's imply not true and everyone knows dat!!!!


Let's just say that Paul Kantner would be the one to decide which Jefferson Starship is "real" and I'm guessing he would say that all of 'em were real.


Where's Modern Times? Nuclear Furniture? Winds Of Change? Windows Of Heaven? Freedom At Point Zero?

I feel this list is very selective and it's just music Scott wanted to hear and he's trying to force what HE wants to hear on us.  

Well, this just makes me mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey, I actually have all of these except "Blows.....". Don't know why I don't have that. Probably because I like The Empire and I am against any blows against it.

What's really strange is that the first album was about Star Wars and they had a song in the SW Holiday Special. Coincidence? I think not!!!!!

Fun Fact: Did you know that Darth Vader's screen name was Red Octopus?

Fun Fact 2: Did you know that Scottie Gabbert was named after a character in Star Trek?

Maybe I'll do some more but only the ones Paul Kantner and Grace Slick were a part of....  And I hate Star Trek

Well I was thinking about adding a second edition of this SHT list, you know there were still some Jefferson Starships to come...  But stay tuned and I will educate you on the topic.

Blows - So is this a solo album or is it Jefferson Starship?  If it's a solo album, it wouldn't fit.  Anyway, I guess it's JS.  I love the guitar on this song, which would make since because Craig Chaquico's guitar work on Modern Times is amazing, which makes Craig Chaquico an amazing guitarist.  I guess the female voice is GS.  This is pretty good. Oh, maybe this wasn't Chaquico, but it was still good playing.

DD - This is way cool.  The funk.  The bass.  The guitar.  Slick.  Very nice song right here.  But again, is it Jefferson Starship?

TWBL - This one picks right up from the previous track.  It sounds like it could have been the track that followed the previous track on the previous album.  Again, bass and guitar are terrific.  Outstanding.

St. Charles - This has a very dreamy production to it.  I like it.  Balin could really sing.  There is something that I really like about two voices singing together.  Who sings with Balin on the verses?  Also, sounds great when Slick comes in.  Another very good song.  And if this song doesn't prove to you how amazing Chaquico is, you're The Pinball Wizard...

LTG - Probably the least good song here, but still pretty good.  Slick sounds good and it's nice to hear her get a lead here. Maybe the lack of lead guitar moves this to the bottom of these five tracks.

Overall, very impressed.  Just put the five CD Original Album Classic series, which contains three of these albums, on my Amazon wish list.

Red Octopus is a must have, but I love Earth better for sentimental reasons.  Im glad you hear it!


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