Jefferson Airplane – Crown Of Creation (1968)

FrontCover1.jpgCrown of Creation is the fourth studio album by the San Francisco psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, and was released by RCA Victor in September 1968. It saw the band continuing their development of psychedelic music from their previous album, After Bathing at Baxter’s.

While failing to eclipse Surrealistic Pillow (1967) from a commercial standpoint, the album was a considerable success in comparison to its immediate predecessor, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Pop Charts and earning a RIAA gold certification. Its two singles (“Greasy Heart”, released in April 1968, followed by the title track in November) were modest hits on the Hot 100 chart.

Prior to recording, the group had their manager and promoter Bill Thompson purchase a large 20-room, three-story, home at 2400 Fulton Street directly across from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco where the members would live communally. Costing $73,000,[7] the home, known as “The Airplane House” or simply “The Mansion” included a refurbished basement with a built-in recording studio. The band became a tight grouping and much of their composing began at their new headquarters. The combination of individuals continued the experimentation and visionary lyrical compositions that made them quintessential in the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene.

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Writing was generally equal between the group members as they all took part in one or more tracks. The band intended Crown of Creation to be their personal reflections on commercialism, crime, and coming of age in the face of the bohemian enclave assimilated with San Francisco during this period.

Recording took place in early 1968 well into the summer in RCA studios in which the band included distorted sound effects and guitar sections, and tracks enriched in overdubbing. Stylistically it was their most diverse album to date, taking everything the band had attempted previously and developing to that point. The Airplane included heavy-rock jams similar to their live act, and folk-rock compositions, a nod to their work on Surrealistic Pillow. Overall it was much more tightly structured than their previous effort. Track arrangements stand as complex and sophisticated further explaining why the band had no hit-ready singles. Several guest musicians were involved in the development of the album including David Crosby, Bill Goodwin, and Tim Davis.[13] Jefferson Airplane was on a condensed schedule when considering their concerts and TV appearances. Sessions were completed in between their commitments, so recording was prolonged since they only had brief periods in which to work. (by wikipedia)

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Crown of Creation appeared ten months after their last album, After Bathing at Baxter’s, and it doesn’t take the same kind of leap forward that Baxter’s did from Surrealistic Pillow. Indeed, in many ways, Crown of Creation is a more conservative album stylistically, opening with “Lather,” a Grace Slick original that was one of the group’s very last forays (and certainly their last prominent one) into a folk idiom. Much of what follows is a lot more based in electric rock, as well as steeped in elements of science fiction (specifically author John Wyndham’s book The Chrysalids) in several places, but Crown of Creation was still deliberately more accessible musically than its predecessor, even as the playing became more bold and daring within more traditional song structures. Jack Casady by this time had developed one of the most prominent and distinctive bass sounds in American rock, as identifiable (if not quite as bracing) as John Entwistle’s was with the Who, as demonstrated on “In Time,” “Star Track,” “Share a Little Joke,” “If You Feel” (where he’s practically a second lead instrument), and the title song, and Jorma Kaukonen’s slashing, angular guitar attack was continually surprising as his snaking lead guitar parts wended their way through “Star Track” and “Share a Little Joke.”

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The album also reflected the shifting landscape of West Coast music with its inclusion of “Triad,” a David Crosby song that Crosby’s own group, the Byrds, had refused to release — its presence (the only extant version of the song for a number of years) was a forerunner of the sound that would later be heard on Crosby’s own debut solo album, If I Could Only Remember My Name (on which Slick, Paul Kantner, and Casady would appear). The overall album captured the group’s rapidly evolving, very heavy live sound within the confines of some fairly traditional song structures, and left ample room for Slick and Marty Balin to express themselves vocally, with Balin turning in one of his most heartfelt and moving performances on “If You Feel.” “Ice Cream Phoenix” pulses with energy and “Greasy Heart” became a concert standard for the group — the studio original of the latter is notable for Slick’s most powerful vocal performance since “Somebody to Love.” And the album’s big finish, “The House at Pooneil Corners,” seemed to fire on all cylinders, their amps cranked up to ten (maybe 11 for Casady), and Balin, Slick, and Kantner stretching out on the disjointed yet oddly compelling tune and lyrics. It didn’t work 100 percent of the time, but it made for a shattering finish to the album. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Marty Balin (vocals, guitar)
Jack Casady (bass)
Spencer Dryden (drums, keyboards, vocals)
Paul Kantner (guitar, vocals)
Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar, vocals)
Grace Slick (vocals, keyboards)
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∞ – percussion
Gary Blackman (nose solo on 01.)
Charles Cockey (guitar, vocals)
David Crosby (guitar)
Tim Davis (percussion)
Bill Goodwin (talking drums)
Dan Woody (percussion)
Gene Twombly (sound effects)

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Tracklist:
01. Lather (Slick) 3.01
02. In Time (Kantner/Balin) 4.13
03. Triad (Crosby) 4.56
04. Star Track (Kaukonen) 3.10
05. Share A Little Joke (Balin) 3.97
06. Chushingura (instrumental) (Dryden) 1.18
07. If You Feel (Balin/Blackman) 3.21
08. Crown Of Creation (Wyndham/Kantner) 2.54
09. Ice Cream Phoenix (Kaukonen/Cockey) 3.01
10. Greasy Heart (Slick) 3.25
11. The House At Pooneil Corners (Kantner/Balin) 5.51

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Jefferson Airplane – Takes Off (1966)

LPFrontCover1.jpgJefferson Airplane Takes Off is the debut album of American rock band Jefferson Airplane, released in August 1966 as RCA Victor LSP-3584 (stereo) and LPM-3584 (mono). The personnel differs from the later “classic” lineup: Signe Toly Anderson was the female vocalist and Skip Spence played drums. Both left the group shortly after the album’s release and were replaced by Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden, respectively

RCA executives found some of the lyrics too sexually suggestive. They had the band change the lyrics in “Let Me In” from “I gotta get in, you know where” to “You shut your door, now it ain’t fair”, and “Don’t tell me you want money” to “Don’t tell me it’s so funny”. In “Run Around” they had the line “Blinded by colors come flashing from flowers that sway as you lay under me” altered to “that sway as you stay here by me”. With “Runnin’ ‘Round This World” the executives insisted that “trips” in the line “The nights I’ve spent with you have been fantastic trips” referred to taking LSD, though the band insisted it was merely common slang. Even replacing the word “trips” with a guitar apreggio did not placate RCA’s concerns with the line’s sexual connotations and refused its inclusion on the album, and the recording remained unreleased for the next eight years.

The album’s release drew little press attention at a time when mainstream newspapers did not normally cover rock releases and the rock press was yet in its infancy. Crawdaddy! highlighted the album on the cover of its January 1967 issue, which included a three-page review by the magazine’s assistant editor Tim Jurgens, who called the album “faulted” yet “the most important album of American rock” of 1966. (by wikipedia)

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The debut Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by singer Marty Balin, who wrote or co-wrote all the original material and sang most of the lead vocals in his heartbreaking tenor with Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson providing harmonies and backup. (Anderson’s lead vocal on “Chauffeur Blues” indicated she was at least the equal of her successor, Grace Slick, as a belter.) The music consisted mostly of folk-rock love songs, the most memorable of which were “It’s No Secret” and “Come up the Years.” (There was also a striking version of Dino Valente’s “Get Together” recorded years before the Youngbloods’ hit version.) Jorma Kaukonen already displayed a talent for mixing country, folk, and blues riffs in a rock context, and Jack Casady already had a distinctive bass sound. But the Airplane of Balin-Kantner-Kaukonen-Anderson-Casady-Spence is to be distinguished from the Balin-Kantner-Kaukonen-Casady-Slick-Dryden version of the band that would emerge on record five months later chiefly by Balin’s dominance. Later, Grace Slick would become the group’s vocal and visual focal point. On Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, the Airplane was still Balin’s group. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Signe Toly Anderson (vocals, percussion)
Marty Balin (vocals, guitar)
Jack Casady (bass)
Paul Kantner (guitar, vocals)

Jorma Kaukonen (guitar)
Skip Spence – drums)
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Spencer Dryden (drums on 15., 18. + 19.)

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Tracklist:
01. Blues From An Airplane (Balin/Spence) 2.13
02. Let Me In (Balin/Kantner) 2.59
03. Bringing Me Down (Balin/Kantner) 2.24
04. It’s No Secret (Balin) 2.39
05. Tobacco Road (Warnick[n) (*) 3.30
06. Come Up The Years (Balin/Kantner) 2.32
07. Run Around (Balin/Kantner) 2.40
08. Let’s Get Together (Kantner/Anderson/Balin/Powers) 3.35
09. Don’t Slip Away (Balin/Spence) 2.34
10. Chauffeur Blues (Melrose) 2.28
11. And I Like It (Balin/Kaukonen) 3.20
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12. Runnin’ Round This World (from Early Flight) (Balin/Kantner) 2.25
13. High Flying Bird (from Early Flight) (Wheeler) 2.17
14. It’s Alright (from Early Flight) (Balin/Spence) 2:17
15. Go To Her” (from Jefferson Airplane Loves You) Kantner, Irving Estes 4:09
16. “Let Me In (from Jefferson Airplane Loves You) (Balin/Kantner) 3.31
17. Run Around (uncensored version) (Balin/Kantner) 2.35
18. Chauffeur Blues (alternate version) (Melrose) 2.49
19.1. And I Like It (alternate version) (Balin/Kaukonen) 8.16
19.2.. Blues From An Airplane (instrumental; hidden track) (Balin/Spence) 2.10

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Various Artists – Montery Pop Festival 67 (Part 1): Jefferson Airplane (1989)

FrontCover1Monterey Pop Festival ’67 – The Summer Of Love All Began From Here” is an Italien bootleg from 1989 and includes 7 LPs in a box (and the cover art is pretty great, too). And this set (the sound is very good throughout!) is documenting the legendary California rock festival:

The Monterey International Pop Music Festival was a three-day concert event held June 16 to June 18, 1967 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. Crowd estimates for the festival have ranged from 25,000-90,000 people, who congregated in and around the festival grounds. The fairgrounds’ enclosed performance arena, where the music took place, had an approved festival capacity of 7,000, but it was estimated that 8,500 jammed into it for Saturday night’s show. Festival-goers who wanted to see the musical performances were required to have either an ‘all-festival’ ticket or a separate ticket for each of the five scheduled concert events they wanted to attend in the arena: Friday night, Saturday afternoon and night, and Sunday afternoon and night. Ticket prices varied by seating area, and ranged from $3 to $6.50 ($21–46, adjusted for inflation.

TicketThe festival is remembered for the first major American appearances by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who and Ravi Shankar, the first large-scale public performance of Janis Joplin and the introduction of Otis Redding to a large, predominantly white audience.

The Monterey Pop Festival embodied the theme of California as a focal point for the counterculture and is generally regarded as one of the beginnings of the “Summer of Love” in 1967; the first rock festival had been held just one week earlier at Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival. Because Monterey was widely promoted and heavily attended, featured historic performances, and was the subject of a popular theatrical documentary film, it became an inspiration and a template for future music festivals, including the Woodstock Festival two years later.

FestivalPosterThe festival was planned in seven weeks by promoter Lou Adler, John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, producer Alan Pariser and publicist Derek Taylor. The Monterey location had been known as the site for the long-running Monterey Jazz Festival and Monterey Folk Festival; the promoters saw the Monterey Pop festival as a way to validate rock music as an art form in the way in which jazz and folk were regarded. The organizers succeeded beyond all expectations.

The artists performed for free with all revenue donated to charity, except for Ravi Shankar, who was paid $3,000 for his afternoon-long performance on the sitar. Country Joe and the Fish were paid $5,000 not by the festival itself, but from revenue generated from the D.A. Pennebaker documentary.

Lou Adler later reflected:

…[O]ur idea for Monterey was to provide the best of everything — sound equipment, sleeping and eating accommodations, transportation — services that had never been provided for the artist before Monterey…

We set up an on-site first aid clinic, because we knew there would be a need for medical supervision and that we would encounter drug-related problems. We didn’t want people who got themselves into trouble and needed medical attention to go untreated. Nor did we want their problems to ruin or in any way disturb other people or disrupt the music…

Our security worked with the Monterey police. The local law enforcement authorities never expected to like the people they came in contact with as much as they did. They never expected the spirit of ‘Music, Love and Flowers’ to take over to the point where they’d allow themselves to be festooned with flowers.

Monterey’s bill boasted a lineup that put established stars like The Mamas and the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel and The Byrds alongside groundbreaking new acts from the UK and the USA. (by wikipedia)

I will present the complete box in the next weeks … and I start with LP number one with the complete Jefferson Airplane  (no introduction nessesary) performance. With two huge singles behind them, the Airplane was one of the major attractions of the festival.

JeffersonAirplaneJefferson Airplane at the Monterey Pop Festival

Personnel:
Marty Balin (vocals, guitar)
Jack Casady (bass)
Spencer Dryden (drums)
Paul Kantner (guitar, vocals)
Jorma Kaukonen (guitar, vocals)
Grace Slick (vocals)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Introduction/Somebody To Love (Slick) 3.50
02. Other Side Of This Life (Neil) 6.51
03. White Rabbit (Slick) 2.45
04. High Flyin’ Bird (Balin/Slick) 4.01
05. Today (Balin/Kantner) 3.04
06. She Has Funny Cars (Kaukonen/Balin)     3:14
07. Young Girl Sunday Blues (Balin/Kantner) 3.30
08. Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil (Kantner)    11:02

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Much more will come:
The Who (4 tracks), The Steve Miller Band (1 track), Scott McKenzie (1 track), Simon & Garfunkel (7 tracks), The Electric Flag (3 tracks), Canned Heat (2 tracks), Hugh Masakela (1 track), Buffalo Springfield (3 tracks), The Mar-Keys (1 track), Country Joe & The Fish (3 tracks), Booker T & The MGs (2 tracks), Big Brother & The Holding Company (5 tracks), The Mamas & The Papas (9 tracks), The Jimi Hendrix Experience (3 tracks), The Grateful Dead (2 tracks), The Byrds (3 tracks), The Butterfield Blues Band (6 tracks), The Animals (4 tracks), Lou Rawls (2 tracks), Johnny Rivers (1 track)