Underplayed Vinyl: Jefferson Airplane


For the longest time, perhaps into the early 1980s, I thought Surrealistic Pillow was the first JA album. Not so; Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, with Signe Anderson as the female vocalist, got all the way to #128 in the Billboard charts in late 1966. But it was the second album, with Grace Slick, formerly of the group The Great Society, that created the required alchemy. Here’s a bunch of YouTube clips – some are performance videos, others pastiches.
1. She Has Funny Cars

2. Somebody To Love (a #5 single in 1967)
3. My Best Friend
4. Today
5. Comin’ Back To Me
6. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
7. D.C.B.A.
8. How Do You Feel
9. Embryonic Journey (used on the last episode of Friends, I understand)
10. White Rabbit – went to #8 on the charts

11. Plastic Fantastic Lover

The album went to #3 and spent 56 weeks on the charts. I always thought the strength of this album, and of the group generally, was the strength of the various vocalists/songwriters: Slick, Marty Balin, Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen.

Grace Slick turns 58 today.
ROG

Summer of Love

It’s not even summer yet and I’ve already begun to tire of mention of the term “Summer of Love”. The early adopters of the counterculture movement seemed to have decided that the folks that invaded Haight-Asbury, in the words of the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir on CBS News, “just didn’t get it.”

But I’ll admit that there’s one thing that largely endured: the music. Here’s a list of all the bands that played at the Monterey Pop Festival, which opened four decades ago tomorrow, withe the approximate number of LPs of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me then; and the number of CDs I own of theirs I own, suggesting their impact on me more recently.

Friday, June 16
* The Association – 1 greatest hits LP. Hey, they tried to be “relevant” on the smothers Brothers Show when the sang Requiem for the Masses.
* The Paupers – nope
* Lou Rawls – 1 CD
* Beverly – who?
* Johnny Rivers – 1 greatest hits CD
* The Animals – at least one LP that includes the song “Monterey”, 1 greatest hits CD
* Simon and Garfunkel – at least six LPs, plus at least four solo Simon LPs, and one Garfunkel LP. S&G box set, Paul Simon box set, plus other CDs of each
Saturday, June 17
* Canned Heat – maybe one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company -one LP, plus three other Janis Joplin LPs and three Janis CDs
* Country Joe and The Fish – one LP, plus their appearance on the Woodstock LP
* Al Kooper – the Super Sessions with Mike Bloomfield and Steve Stills LP; the first Blood, Sweat and Tears LP
* The Butterfield Blues Band – one LP, one CD
* Quicksilver Messenger Service – one LP
* Steve Miller Band – two CDs
* The Electric Flag – one LP
* Moby Grape – one LP
* Hugh Masekela – alas, none
* The Byrds – one LP, two CDs
* Laura Nyro -two LPs
* Jefferson Airplane – at least six LPs, a two-disc greatest hits CD
* Booker T and The MG’s – no, though well-represented in the two Stax-Volt CD box sets I have
* Otis Redding – ditto
Sunday, June 18
* Ravi Shankar – one LP; I also have CDs of two of his daughters
* The Blues Project -one LP
* Big Brother & The Holding Company – see above
* The Group With No Name – don’t know
* Buffalo Springfield – 1 LP, 1 greatest hits CDs, plus four CSN(Y) LPs, two CSNY CDs, two solo Stills CDs (once owned on LP but lost or stolen), eight Neil Young LPs, at least seven Neil Young CDs
* The Who – seven LPs, three CDs, four Pete Townshend LPs, three Townshend CDs
* Grateful Dead – four LPs, one greatest hits CD
* The Jimi Hendrix Experience – four LPs, three CDs
* Scott McKenzie – nope
* The Mamas & The Papas – five LPs, a three-disc greatest hits CD

Meanwhile, Brian Wilson is playing Monterey this month, 40 years after the Beach Boys declined for a variety of reasons. I have a LOT of Brian Wilson (at least 4 CD), and Beach Boys albums (a boatload of LPs and CDs, some duplicative).
ROG

What’s in a (Band) Name 2

Still in a music groove. (The pun wasn’t intended, and might have been missed had I not noted it.) I’ve been musing again about whether bands can legitimately use their name after members leave and years go by.

The Lovin’ SpoonfulThe current group features Joe Butler (father of actress Yancy Butler) and Steve Boone from the original group, plus Jerry Yester, who replaced Zal Yanovsky in 1967. So the group has the historic right to lay claim to the name. Still, it’s hard to recognize them as such without John Sebastian. Not so incidentally, the group is playing tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Empire State Plaza in Albany.

The Temptations– I’ll make the point up front: when Otis Williams, the last original Temp retires or dies, I believe this will STILL be a legitimately named group. You started with Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, Paul williams, Otis, and Elbridge Bryant. David Ruffin replaces Elbridge, Dennis Edwards replaces David, Richard Street replaces Paul, Ricky Owens replaces Eddie. And on and on. Think Mormon Tabernacle Choir; people come and go, but it’s still the MTC. (An odd analogy sure, but it makes the point.)
The 1980-1 lineup was Otis, Melvin, Dennis, Richard, and Glenn Leonard, augmented by the briefly returning David and Eddie. I saw this septet perform; one of the two or three best concerts I ever saw. They performed as seven, but also as various permutations of the five that were on that particular recording that they were singing (Richard took the Paul parts, Paul having commited suicide in 1973.)

One of the things I liked about the Jefferson Airplane is that when they changed musically, they changed their name, to Jefferson Starship, then Starship. As a consumer, I always appreciated that. (I have no Starship.)

The Who – I really love the music of the Who. When Keith Moon died in 1978, and was replaced by Kenny Jones, there were people who wondered if they were still the Who. But when John Entwhistle died in 2002, and Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry performed a few days later, it was clear the SURVIVORS thought they were still the Who. I just don’t think so, though the Townsend website refers to Who activities in 2004.
Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died in 1980, and LZ broke up. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have since performed together, but as Page/Plant, which I consider a good model. Here’s an Onion piece about the Who and commercials.

The Dave Clark Five got together, decided to call a day in 1971 (although Mike Smith and Dave played with others as “Dave Clark & Friends” for a time for contractual obligation reasons.)

The Supremes – a tricky case. The Supremes (nee the Primettes) were Diane (later Diana) Ross, Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, and Barbara Martin, who left before fame struck. Flo left in 1967 (and died in 1976), replaced by Cindy Birdsong, as the group became Diana Ross and the Supremes. Diana left in 1969 for a solo career and was replaced by boxer Ernie Terrell’s sister Jean. To the surprise of many, the group continued to have hits. Cindy left in 1972, replaced by Lynda Lawrence. Eventually, the group consists of Mary, Cindy and Freda Payne’s sister Scherrie. In 1978, after the hits stopped, Mary toured with two other women. In 2000, Diana toured with Scherrie and Lynda, Mary’s old cohorts! Reportedly, there’s still bad blood between Mary (who had, but lost the rights to the “Supremes” name) and Diana. Oy! When Mary came to Albany last month, there was no pretense that it was the Supremes, only a Supreme. It’s likely that there never will be a Supremes again.