Je-Jef

Jeanette (Australia): I Have Joy (Odle LP-1003, USA, 1975?)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk
Jeanette Sharpham (lead vocals, guitar, tambourine)
As the title suggests, this Australian singer/songwriter’s album has Christian lyrics, and as that suggests this has a very precious, innocent and breezy feel. What this description probably doesn’t convey is just how good this is: Sharpham has a delightful voice that reminds me of Bonnie Dobson and is a very gifted songwriter. The backing is beautifully judged as well, with acoustic guitar complemented by occasional piano, tambourine and electric accordion. In addition to Dobson, other reference points could include Dell Dudenhoeffer and Kathey J Jee, though this is better than either of them and could become a very expensive and sought-after LP. GRADE: B–.

Jeavestone (Finland): Mind The Soup (Major Leidén Productions MLCD 016, CD, 2004)
Rock
Angelina Galactique (flute)
I’d always imagined that this band offered a mixture of slightly kitsch psychedelia and symphonic progressive rock. In fact, they resemble their countrymen Five Fifteen, but are rooted more in late sixties music, blending elements of psychedelic pop with jamming hard rock. A few moments of experimentation work well, and this is a pretty diverse record, but for all their varying influences this is ultimately just good old-fashioned retro rock. In any case, the closing ‘The Prophet’s Daydream’ is easily the most creative and exciting song on the album.

GRADE: C+.
Jeavestone (Finland): Spices, Species And Poetry Petrol (Nordic Notes/Presence NN021/LC14502, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2008)
Progressive/Folk/Rock
Angelina Galactique (occasional vocals, keyboards, melodica, flute)
Although the first couple of cuts again resemble Five Fifteen, this is generally a quite different album. With strong influences from folk, jazz and late sixties Beatles-style pop, this mixes individual songs with some lengthy progressive jams in the middle of the LP. The end result isn’t particularly consistent, and their whimsical humour (most notably on ‘The Power Of Swankle™’) isn’t as amusing as they imagine, but there are some excellent moments here. GRADE: C+.
Jeavestone (Finland): 1+1=OK (Nordic Notes/Presence NN035/PRECD 026, CD, with digipak, 2010)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Angelina Galactique (keyboards, flute, backing vocals)
This is decidedly their heaviest album, with almost all the songs featuring pounding drums and crunching guitar riffs, drawing inspiration from seventies luminaries like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple et al. The result is a fine LP, although their impressive sound isn’t matched by equally memorable songwriting. GRADE: C+.

Kathey J Jee (USA): Every Day’s A Rainbow (No label, with inserts, 1975)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk
Kathey J Jee (lead vocals, guitar, organ, percussion)
Jee recorded this short album to celebrate her fourth wedding anniversary and had 20 copies pressed for her husband and friends; she did not make covers or inserts for all of them at the time, so examples are known with covers she made decades later. Musically it’s a gentle, haunting singer/songwriter affair, hinting towards Bonnie Dobson and Judy Collins (though Jee’s delivery actually reminds me of a high-pitched Joan Armatrading). With simple backing from guitars, piano and occasional percussion, the album has a slightly eerie, lost-in-time vibe, compounded by the amateurish harmonies (which sound like an attempt to create double-tracked vocals) and cheap recording and pressing. The disc could therefore have significant appeal for ‘real people’ collectors, though Jee was clearly a competent singer, writer and musician. The most interesting cut is probably the closing ‘Make Music (Sing A Song With Me)’, which sounds like an outtake from a school project LP and particularly brings to mind Killy Country, with its slightly modal guitar and hesitant percussion. GRADE: C+.

Jefferson Airplane (USA): Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (RCA LSP 3584, 1966)
Pop/Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Signe Anderson (occasional vocals)
More tentative than the masterpieces that would follow, Jefferson Airplane’s debut owes a heavy debt to the Beatles and lightweight sunshine pop and folk/rock practitioners such as the Mamas & The Papas. Female singer Signe Anderson has a powerful vibrato, but unlike her successor Grace Slick she isn’t a songwriter, leaving Marty Balin to handle almost all the vocal leads and the bulk of the writing. Even at this stage, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen was clearly a major talent, and his powerful acid leads add a dynamic psychedelic edge to much of the material. But whilst this is enjoyable throughout, only the doomy, gothic opener ‘Blues From An Airplane’ really hints at the brilliance to come. As a footnote, the very first pressing, including the B-side ‘Runnin’ Round This World’ (swiftly excised by the record label, who thought they’d spotted a drug reference in the lyrics) is one of the most valuable LPs in the world, with a copy having sold on eBay for $8500. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Surrealistic Pillow (RCA LSP 3766, 1967)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, piano, recorder)
At the time, American critic Robert Christgau dismissed this as ‘amplified Peter, Paul & Mary’, but the general consensus is that it’s a classic – and I’d fully agree. Some of the album is acoustic, with Balin contributing two beautiful ballads in ‘Today’ and ‘Comin’ Back To Me’ – but he also manages some powerful and catchy rockers with ‘She Has Funny Cars’, ‘3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds’ and ‘Plastic Fantastic Lover’. Of course, it’s the two songs that new member Grace Slick brought from her previous band, the Great Society, that are the most celebrated – the anthemic ‘Somebody To Love’ and literate, bolero-flavoured ‘White Rabbit’ were both top ten US hits, and remain among the most important compositions of the psychedelic era. Finally, the band hark back to their pop/folk roots with a couple of less essential numbers (‘My Best Friend’ and ‘How Do You Feel?’), but even these are extremely pleasant. Bizarrely, the UK issue dropped three of the finest tracks, substituted three cuts from Takes Off and completely revised the running order. GRADE: B.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): After Bathing At Baxter’s (RCA LSP 1511, with inner, 1967)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, piano, recorder)
This time round, Balin writes and sings almost nothing, and that’s significant – Paul Kantner and Grace Slick’s LSD-soaked vision is a radical departure from anything that went before. From start to finish, the album is a ferocious recreation of the acid experience, ranging from the wonkily catchy near-hit single ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’ through sound collages (‘A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You Shortly’), a long instrumental jam (‘Spare Chaynge’), a spooky acoustic number (‘Martha’) and two extremely weird Slick compositions (‘Rejoyce’ and ‘Two Heads’). It’s simply astounding. This time round, RCA in the UK didn’t manage to damage the album’s integrity, but they did drop the gatefold sleeve and the printed inner (one of the first in the history of rock). GRADE: B+.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Crown Of Creation (RCA LSP 4058, with booklet, 1968)
Psychedelic/Folk
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
The Airplane’s fourth is a game of two halves – side one is mainly acoustic, with an eerie and haunting feel, whilst side two is rock-based, building up to the shattering, feedback-driven climax of ‘The House At Pooneil Corners’. Kantner, Balin, Kaukonen and Slick all weigh in with some fine material, though it’s the latter’s ‘Lather’ and ‘Greasy Heart’ that are probably the highpoints, along with the title track and their forlorn interpretation of David Crosby’s ‘Triad’. GRADE: B.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Bless Its Pointed Little Head (RCA LSP 4133, with poster, 1969)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
This live album is widely regarded as one of the band’s best, but I’ve never liked it. The reinterpretations of their studio material are exciting and dynamic, but also harsh and unsubtle, and Slick and Balin’s vocal sparring on ‘Somebody To Love’ (allegedly reflecting their increasing rivalry and mutual dislike) serves to ruin a fine song that needed no such embellishment. There are also unremarkable covers of Fred Neil’s ‘Other Side Of This Life’ and Donovan’s ‘Fat Angel’, a boring blues jam (‘Rock Me Baby’) and an extended improvisation during which nothing much happens (‘Bear Melt’) – none of them under six-and-a-half minutes. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Volunteers (RCA LSP 4238, with poster, 1969)
Rock/Psychedelic/Rural
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, keyboards, recorder)
The Airplane’s fourth consecutive studio masterpiece remains their finest work, covering all aspects of their sound and embracing most elements of late-sixties underground rock. The two country numbers (‘The Farm’ and ‘A Song For All Seasons’) annoy some listeners, but they’re clearly piss-takes, and work well enough on their own terms. Elsewhere, Kantner combines rich harmony vocals with aggressive left-wing sentiments on ‘We Can Be Together’ (best remembered for its refrain of ‘Up against the wall, motherfuckers!’), Slick extends her ice-maiden persona on the superb ‘Eskimo Blue Day’ and Kaukonen lets rip on the fantastic eight-minute ‘Hey Fredrick’. Add in marvellously poignant interpretations of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s ‘Wooden Ships’ and the traditional ‘Good Shepherd’, and the result is a remarkable album with something for almost everyone. GRADE: A.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Bark (Grunt FTR 1001, with paper bag and booklet, 1971)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
With the psychedelic haze of the sixties fading and core members Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden having fled the nest, Bark is inevitably not quite the equal of its predecessors. Nonetheless, it’s better than its reputation, with a good spectrum of material, from the anthemic ‘When The Earth Moves Again’ to the powerful feminist statement of ‘Law Man’ and the catchy rocker ‘Feel So Good’ (also recorded in an excellent extended eleven-minute version, which remained unreleased until the nineties). The packaging is outstanding too, with a truly weird cover, foldout lyric insert and a large gatefold paper bag encasing everything. GRADE: B–.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Long John Silver (Grunt FTR 1007, with inner, 1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Grace Slick (principal vocals, piano)
On first listen, the Airplane’s final studio set is an embarrassment – mostly shambolic acid-rock jams with a soupy mix and terrible sound quality for its time (probably reflecting the fact they were all stoned throughout the recording process). With repeat listening, however, the sheer energy and fury of the performances shines through, driven by Slick’s quasi-Arabic keening, Kaukonen’s searing leads and Jack Casady’s visceral bass work. I can’t imagine this trumping Surrealistic Pillow or Volunteers in many fans’ estimation, but for a document of the Airplane at their most elementally angry and powerful, this is hard to beat. Once again, they did a brilliant job with the packaging, with a novelty foldout sleeve that could be made into a box for holding marijuana. In many countries, the picture of the drug on the inside of the sleeve was removed, as were the viciously anti-religion songs ‘Easter?’ and ‘The Son Of Jesus’. GRADE: B–.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Thirty Seconds Over Winterland (Grunt FTR 1047, with inner, 1973)
Rock
Grace Slick (occasional vocals)
Their second and final live album (excluding numerous retrospective archive issues) is usually compared unfavourably to Bless Its Pointed Little Head. I like it better, although it’s very straightforward, containing just seven tracks (the bulk taken from Bark and Long John Silver). Strangely, the album almost ignores Slick, focusing on Kantner and Kaukonen’s songs, making it a rather odd concert document, though the performances are enjoyable enough. GRADE: C+.

Jefferson Airplane (USA): Early Flight (Grunt CYL1-0437, 1974, recorded 1965-1970)
Rock/Psychedelic
Grace Slick (occasional vocals, piano), Signe Anderson (occasional vocals)
This odds-and-sods compilation features three outtakes from Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (including ‘Runnin’ Round This World’, issued as the B-side to ‘It’s No Secret’ and excised from the album after the first, very limited, pressing), three from Surrealistic Pillow, and three numbers from 1970 (both sides of the ‘Mexico’/‘Have You Seen The Saucers?’ single, plus the previously unreleased ‘Up Or Down’). As with most ventures of this kind, it’s a bit of a mixed bag – the two six-minute blues jams were unused at the time precisely because they’re six-minute blues jams (though not bad blues jams), but ‘High Flyin’ Bird’ was one of their most iconic early numbers on stage, ‘That’s Alright’ is better than several cuts that made Takes Off, ‘JPP McStep B Blues’ and ‘Go To Her’ are better than several cuts that made Pillow, and the 1970 single is excellent. GRADE: B–.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Jefferson Airplane (Epic RK 45271, CD, 1989)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
This one-off reunion effort is widely regarded as one of the worst reformation albums of all time. That’s a touch unfair – it’s better than anything they released as Jefferson Starship, for starters – but despite reuniting Slick, Balin, Kantner, Kaukonen and Casady this only sounds like the Airplane on ‘Ice Age’. Elsewhere, the band’s four songwriters weigh in with some solid rock material, managing a suitably anthemic feel on ‘Planes’ and a few other cuts. In fairness, this was probably the best record anyone could have expected from these musicians at this stage in their career, and the end result is mildly enjoyable; but I would have liked it more had they called themselves anything other than Jefferson Airplane. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Live At The Fillmore Auditorium 10/15/66 (Collectors’ Choice Music 6004, CD, 2010, with digipak,

recorded 1966)
Pop/Rock/Psychedelic
Signe Anderson (occasional vocals)
Marking Signe Anderson’s final appearance with the band, this fascinating archive release features a mixture of Jefferson Airplane Takes Off material and covers. The sound quality is excellent, and a rather subdued early version of ‘3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds’ is especially interesting, but it’s notable how Grace Slick traded down when she joined them the next day – this is very straight stuff compared to the Great Society’s live recordings from the same era. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Live At The Fillmore Auditorium 10/16/66 (Collectors’ Choice Music 6005, CD, with digipak, 2010,

recorded 1966)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (occasional vocals)
Recorded the night after the previous album, this preserves for posterity Grace Slick’s first performance with the band. She doesn’t get to do much, barely singing lead at all, but this is still a much better show – once again, most of the material is taken from Takes Off, but there is more in the way of jamming and the band seems to have moved significantly closer to full-blown psychedelia in the space of 24 hours. GRADE: B–.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Live At The Fillmore Auditorium 11/25/66 And 11/27/66 (Collectors’ Choice Muisic 6006, double CD,

with digipak, 2010, recorded 1966)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (occasional vocals)
The subtitle ‘We Have Ignition’ and cover sticker (‘…where the band really takes off!’) imply that these November 1966 gigs represented a quantum leap for the band. In fact, they’re another definite but tentative step forward from the 16th October set, mostly featuring material that would later appear on Surrealistic Pillow (or as session outtakes on Early Flight). ‘White Rabbit’ was by now part of their live set, but Grace Slick is generally underused and not in great voice (at least for the 25th November show). The sound quality is at times basic but perfectly serviceable. GRADE: B–.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Live At The Monterey Festival (Thunderbolt CDTB 074, CD, UK, 1990, recorded 1967)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
With good if thin sound quality, this excellent archive set features a pleasing cross-section of material from the band’s first three albums, culminating in a climactic extended version of ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’. For the first time in a recorded live setting, Grace Slick really makes her presence felt. GRADE: B.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Return To The Matrix 02/01/68 (Collectors’ Choice Music 6008, double CD, with digipak, 2010, recorded 1968)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
Another excellent archive release, again focusing on the first three albums plus two cuts that would later appear on Crown Of Creation and three covers (‘Kansas City’ plus the ubiquitous ‘Other Side Of This Life’ and ‘Fat Angel’). The latter are the low points as usual, but overall this is impressive stuff even if the band occasionally sounds a little listless. GRADE: B.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Live At The Fillmore East (RCA 07863 67563-2, CD, 1998, recorded 1968)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick
Compiled from two different dates in May 1968, this is another fine live set, concentrating mainly on Pillow and Baxter’s material, plus a couple of new numbers destined for Crown Of Creation and the usual stage favourites of ‘Fat Angel’ and ‘The Other Side Of This Life’. The sound quality is excellent throughout, though the playing and singing is sometimes a bit ragged. GRADE: B–.

Jefferson Airplane (USA): Nothing In Particular (All Access AACD0150, CD, UK, 2016, recorded 1967-1968)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick
Combining ten tracks from a Dutch concert in September 1968 with three TV appearances on the ‘Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’, this archive release features excellent performances and an interesting track listing but poor mono sound quality, complete with distortion and dropouts. Nonetheless this is definitely worth obtaining to hear renditions of unusual numbers like ‘If You Feel (Like China Breaking)’ and ‘In Time’ plus a unique jam. GRADE: B.    
Jefferson Airplane (USA): At Golden Gate Park (Charly SNAP 283 CD, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2006, recorded 1969)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick
This May 1969 show is well, if oddly, recorded, with the drums unusually high in the mix and a few startling outbursts of incredibly loud guitar during ‘We Can Be Together’. The setlist mixes material from the forthcoming Volunteers with the band’s usual stage favourites; all the songs are well performed if occasionally marred by the Slick/Balin vocal sparring that also afflicted Bless its Pointed Little Head. As a footnote, the final track is credited as ‘Mexico’ but is actually ‘3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds’. GRADE: B.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): The Woodstock Experience (RCA/Legacy 88697 48240 2, double CD, with minisleeves, inners, poster and slipcase, 2009, recorded 1969)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick
This beautifully packaged set, commemorating the fortieth anniversary of both Volunteers and Woodstock, couples the entire studio album with the band’s complete festival set. I’ve already reviewed Volunteers (a solid A and the best of the Airplane’s LPs) so will focus my comments and grade here solely on the live material. It’s an excellent set, offering a good cross-section of material and peaking on savage versions of ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’ and ‘The House At Pooneil Corners’. GRADE: B.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): At The Family Dogg Ballroom (Charly SNAP 293 CD, CD, UK, 2007, recorded 1969)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
One of the best of the live retrospective releases, this catches the band at its very peak. Opening with a superb long jam based around ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’ and closing with an equally remarkable jam featuring Jerry Garcia on lead guitar, the set takes in the highlights of Volunteers plus a few well-chosen older pieces. A rather messy ‘Somebody To Love’ doesn’t work well, but just about everything else is superb. GRADE: B+.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Sweeping Up The Spotlight (RCA 82876815582, CD, 2007, recorded 1969)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick
Another impressive release from the band’s golden era, Sweeping Up The Spotlight peaks on superb versions of ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’, ‘Crown Of Creation’ and ‘White Rabbit’. Admittedly, ‘Rock Me Baby’, ‘Come Back Baby’ and ‘You Wear Your Dresses Too Short’ outstay their welcome as usual, but overall this is sterling stuff. GRADE: B+.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Last Stand At Winterland (Left Field Media LFMCD525, CD, with slipcase, 2014, recorded 1970)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
The sound quality is only slightly above that of a good bootleg, but this is a fascinating snapshot of the Airplane in their final days with Marty Balin. Alongside the expected numbers, it features both sides of the ‘Mexico’ single and several numbers that would probably have made the next album had Balin stayed and Joey Covington been given more leeway (‘Up Or Down’, ‘Whatever The Old Man Does’, ‘Emergency’, ‘Bludgeon Of A Bluecoat’ and ‘You Wear Your Dresses Too Short’). Even at this stage, the commitment to democracy that undermined the mid-seventies Jefferson Starship was very much in evidence: Joey Covington was a pretty poor singer and songwriter and it’s amazing that the band allowed him to contribute two numbers to the set. That said, the three new Balin-fronted numbers aren’t anything to write home about, belying the commonly held belief that the band would have produced a vastly superior album to Bark had he stayed. Add in long, awkward gaps between songs while the band, presumably heavily stoned, get themselves together and the result is a less than perfect but still frequently impressive set, with a high level of energy throughout. GRADE: B.
Jefferson Airplane (USA): Last Flight (Charly SNAD 555 CD, double CD, 2007, recorded 1972)
Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
In some ways the most interesting Airplane archive release, this features the band’s final show in its entirety (aside from the final encore ‘You Wear Your Dresses Too Short’, which had already appeared on the Jefferson Airplane Takes Off boxed set). Whilst the performances aren’t always first rate, this features an unusual tracklisting, leaning heavily on the Long John Silver album and featuring several pieces from members’ various solo projects. With very good sound quality, the end result is an essential item for any Airplane completist. GRADE: B.

Jefferson Airplane (USA): Fly Translove Airways (Sandoz SNZCD2003, quintuple CD, with minisleeves and box, 2017, recorded 1965-1970)

Psychedelic

Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, organ), Signe Anderson (backing vocals)

This superb grey market release features four complete radio broadcasts (two previously unreleased, one issued in 2016 on vinyl on the Keyhole label, and the 1970 set released as Last Stand At Winterland) plus a fifth disc of collected bits and pieces The first show from the Fillmore on 4th February 1967 has more than adequate sound quality, odd stereo separation and some blistering versions of the best numbers from Surrealistic Pillow plus a few other goodies (B). The severe sound problems at the start of the June 1969 set confirm that it is basically a bootleg, but again there’s no denying the quality of the performance, which includes a unique jam and an unusual segue of ‘Wooden Ships’ and the little-heard ‘JPP McStep B-Blues’ (once again a solid B). The sound quality further nosedives on the November 1969 set, which has an odd mix, some issues with tape speed and occasional static crackle, suggesting that it was taped off-air, though the music is wonderful (still just about a B). My comments on Last Stand At Winterland remain unchanged (B). The final disc, compiling three cuts from 1965, nine from 1966 and 1967, and a short interview with Grace Slick and Paul Kantner, also impresses, rounding off a fine set. GRADE: B.

Jefferson Airplane (USA): Jefferson Airplane Loves You (RCA 07863 61110-2, triple CD, with booklet and box, 1992, recorded 1962-1972)
Rock/Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, keyboards, maracas, recorder), Signe Anderson (occasional vocals)
This fascinating collection of rarities spans Jefferson Airplane’s entire career, from Marty Balin’s 1962 solo single ‘I Specialize In Love’ to the final song of the final concert of the Long John Silver tour (Balin’s unrecorded ‘You Wear Your Dresses Too Short’). Alongside several familiar numbers, disc one offers one side of the Great Society’s sole single ‘Free Advice’ and an unreleased alternate version of ‘Go To Her’ (vastly better than most of the songs that actually made it onto Jefferson Airplane Takes Off) and ‘Let Me In’, and a March 1967 Jorma Kaukonen-fronted number ‘Come Back Baby’ (average Hot Tuna-style bluesy stuff). However, the real meat is in the second half, which comprises a nine-song live set from late spring 1967. The second disc opens with a superb extended version of ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’ and closes with stereo downmixes of two alternate takes from the quadraphonic Volunteers. Along the way, it takes in two unreleased Marty Balin songs from 1967 (both very good), two outtakes from Crown Of Creation (Spencer Dryden’s 90-second percussion piece ‘Ribump Ba Bap Dum Dum’ and a jazzy trifle ‘Would You Like A Snack?’ co-composed by Grace Slick and Frank Zappa) plus unreleased live versions of ‘Plastic Fantastic Lover’ and ‘Uncle Sam Blues’. The third disc opens with three more quad Volunteers downmixes, followed by the unreleased Balin song ‘Emergency’ (an unremarkable rocker) and a superb nine-minute version of ‘Law Man’ among more familiar numbers. Finally, Balin brings everything full circle with ‘You Wear Your Dresses Too Short’, which isn’t a great song to start with (let alone at 12½ minutes) but is still nice to have. It all rounds off a superb rarities collection confirming the Airplane’s pre-eminence in the late sixties and early seventies. GRADE: B.
See also Great Society, Jefferson Starship, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Starship

Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Dragonfly (Grunt BFL1-0717, with inner, USA, 1974)
Rock/Progressive
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, piano)
The first album by Jefferson Airplane’s successor (which has little to do with the 1970 set Blows Against The Empire, despite sharing the same name) is a mixed bag. The opening ‘Ride The Tiger’ is absolutely superb heavy rock, with an anthemic melody, some intriguing lyrics and quite wonderful lead guitar work from new boy Craig Chaquico. Grace Slick’s ‘Be Young You’ is also essential, with a powerful instrumental middle section, while the lengthy, progressive rock-tinged ‘Caroline’ and ‘Hyperdrive’ are pretty good (although not as good as every other review seems to claim). But the rest is dull, and the band should never have attempted to add elements of jazz/funk (‘Devil’s Den’) or barroom rock (‘Come To Life’) to their musical palette. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Red Octopus (Grunt BFL1-0999, with inner, USA, 1975)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, piano)
This was Jefferson Airplane/Starship’s commercial high water mark, reaching number one in the States, but it’s a patchy and frustrating record that barely hangs together. Unlike Dragonfly, there’s nothing brilliant on offer here, but there are good songs – Grace Slick’s ‘Fast Buck Freddie’ and ‘Ai Garimasu (There Is Love)’ demonstrate her sheer class as a singer and songwriter, whilst Paul Kantner’s ‘I Want To See Another World’ and ‘There Will Be Love’ are suitably anthemic, with the heavy Hawkwind-like riffing of the former providing a welcome change of pace from the prevailing soft rock mood. Then of course there’s the smash hit single ‘Miracles’, which is simultaneously cloyingly sentimental and subversively odd (especially in its full seven-minute version, which is structurally strange and manages to include a reference to cunnilingus in its lyrics). Whether John Creach and Pete Sears were allowed to contribute instrumentals due to the band’s hippie commitment to democracy or through a lack of other material is debatable, but their contributions sit oddly alongside the songs (the remaining three of which are pure filler unworthy of legitimately talented writers like Balin and Slick). GRADE: C.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Spitfire (Grunt BFL1-1557, with inner, USA, 1976)
Rock/Progressive
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, piano)
With a much looser and more organic feel than its predecessors, Spitfire is mostly a good album and occasionally an excellent one – the beautiful ‘St. Charles’ closely resembles ‘Sketches Of China’ (from Baron Von Tollbooth…), whilst the soaring harmonies of ‘Song To The Sun: Ozymandias/Don’t Let It Rain’ are as close as the Starship ever got to recapturing the classic Airplane sound. Grace Slick also weighs in with two very strong compositions, ‘Hot Water’ and ‘Switchblade’; the latter features some superb lead guitar, organ and synthesiser work. But when the album is bad (the ‘Miracles’ rewrite ‘With Your Love’, the drummer-sung barroom rocker ‘Big City’ and the overblown closer ‘Love Lovely Love’), it’s truly awful, with these three cuts sounding as though they belong on a different LP entirely. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Earth (Grunt BXL1-2515, with inner, USA, 1978)
Pop/Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, piano)
Whilst this isn’t objectively as bad a West Coast artefact as, say, Cockrell & Santos’s New Beginnings released the same year, one is entitled to expect a lot more from three giants of Jefferson Airplane than two minor members of It’s A Beautiful Day. Almost everything here is mediocre or misguided: the Marty Balin-fronted cuts make one long for the days when he could emote properly without faux-white soul stylings; ‘Skateboard’ demonstrates that the band can no longer be raunchy or rocking; and Paul Kantner’s sole composition (in collaboration with seven other writers, believe it or not) shows that he’s entirely lost his knack for writing anthemic material. Then there’s Grace Slick’s ‘Show Yourself’ (an impassioned rant against corporate facelessness on a faceless corporate album) and the opening ‘Love Too Good’: a soft disco-tinged piece written from the point of view of a submissive woman apologising for hurting her lover; if anyone can think of a less appropriate number for Slick’s voice and persona, please let me know. In fairness, it’s all professionally done and the hit single ‘Runaway’ is quite catchy, and if recorded by anyone else I might have awarded this a C or C–, but this is the former Jefferson Airplane we’re talking about. With hardly anybody but Slick writing prolifically and outside composers contributing or participating in six of the nine cuts, it doesn’t even sound as though their heart was in it, an impression confirmed by what happened next (Slick and Balin quit, Kantner started writing again and the band produced a reasonably credible hard rock album Freedom At Point Zero). GRADE: E.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): The King Biscuit Flower Hour Starring The Jefferson Starship (DIR Broadcasting Corporation, double, no sleeve, with insert, 1981)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
Running for an hour, this three-sided double LP showcases Jefferson Starship’s tour to support the Modern Times album, with Grace Slick having just rejoined. Unsurprisingly, the set comprises much of Modern Times plus the usual old favourites (‘Somebody To Love’, ‘White Rabbit’, ‘Ride The Tiger’ and ‘Jane’); the only real surprise is the inclusion of ‘Mistreater’ from Slick’s solo album Welcome To The Wrecking Ball. As is usual for this kind of LP, the music is interspersed with a range of commercials, and whilst good the recording quality is less than great. Add in mostly fair-to-middling material and perfunctory (though perfectly competent) performances and the result is a mildly interesting curio though nothing more. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Winds Of Change (Grunt BXL1-4732, with inner, USA, 1982)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
The relative commercial failure of Modern Times (on which Slick only appeared as guest) made it inevitable that Jefferson Starship would attempt to combine the AOR/hard rock of that album with the more MOR style of their platinum selling mid-seventies work. The result is exactly what one would expect, although the punkish ‘Out Of Control’ (one of surprisingly few tracks co-written and fronted by Slick) is worth a listen. GRADE: C–.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Jefferson Starship (RCA RVT 10320, VHS, 1984)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, tambourine)
This live video captures the band in Canada on the Winds Of Change tour, and combines 12 songs (so presumably around two-thirds of the set) interspersed with some spectacularly low-budget and desperately unfunny linking narrative. The band sound a bit livelier than on the King Biscuit set from a couple of years before, with both the new material and older numbers (once again, all the usual suspects) working well. The set was subsequently reissued on DVD as The Definitive Concert. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Nuclear Furniture (Grunt BXL1-4921, with inner, USA, 1984)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
Back in 1984, following on from Winds Of Change and Slick’s solo set Software, this sounded like a modest return to form. In retrospect, it sounds like what it is: the last gasp of a band pulling in different directions and on the verge of collapse. Slick contributes two tracks: ‘Magician’ sounds like an outtake from Software (except that it’s very good, with a catchy tune) and ‘Showdown’ is unexpectedly brilliant, both lyrically and musically. Paul Kantner’s three songs also include a gem in the quite strange, rather proggy ‘Connection’, but the remaining cuts from Craig Chaquico and Pete Sears are AOR business-as-usual. GRADE: C.
Jefferson Starship (USA): Deeper Space/Extra Virgin Sky (Rainman RMO3202, double CD, with digipak, 2003, recorded 1995)
Rock
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals), Darby Gould (joint lead vocals)
Mixing old and new material, some of which would later recur on Windows Of Heaven, this new line-up of Jefferson Starship featured Paul Kantner, Marty Balin and Jack Casady plus cohorts from the KBC Band and new female singer Darby Gould. Significantly, ‘Miracles’ and ‘Count On Me’ are the only back catalogue numbers from Jefferson Starship proper, with all the other old songs being by Jefferson Airplane. Grace Slick guests on several Jefferson Airplane songs, making her first stage appearance in five years, and unsurprisingly these are the highlights; elsewhere the old material isn’t especially sensitively performed, but it’s in a different league to the anodyne rock of the new songs. This was actually an expanded re-release of a 1995 British CD entitled Deep Space/Virgin Sky (Essential ESS CD 300); the second issue contains the full concert in the original running order, so should be regarded as the definitive artefact. Both versions grade about the same for musical quality. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Starship (USA): Windows Of Heaven (SPV 085-29102 CD, CD, Germany, 1998)
Rock
Diana Mangano (joint lead vocals), Darby Gould (occasional vocals), Grace Slick (occasional vocals)
The first Jefferson Starship studio album since Nuclear Furniture owes a heavy debt, both conceptually and musically, to Paul Kantner’s three compositions on that LP. Indeed, he has so much to say lyrically that he fairly crams the words into his songs, with screeds of additional verbiage that didn’t make the cut proudly displayed in the lyric booklet. Sadly his thoughts are mostly vacuous and the music mostly plodding, with just a few hints of his former ability to create anthemic material. Elsewhere Marty Balin offers a number of pleasant but unexceptional ballads, whilst Diana Mangano provides some solid singing that never quite makes up for Grace Slick’s much-missed vocal and songwriting prowess. The band themselves were unhappy with the finished album, so extensively reworked it (remixing, partially reordering, dropping five tracks and adding two new ones) for the American pressing (CMC International 06076 86265-2) the following year. The most notable cut on this version is ‘I’m On Fire’, which features a guest vocal from Slick. As a footnote, the obscure Japanese pressing of the second version apparently features an exclusive bonus track ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’, but I’m not particularly bothered about hearing it. GRADE: C.
Jefferson Starship 1999 (USA): Greatest Hits – Live At The Fillmore (CMC International 06076 86278-2, CD, 1999)
Rock
Diana Mangano (joint lead vocals)
As the title suggests, this live album features an appealing set of Jefferson Airplane and Starship classics, with the only recent numbers being the dull ‘The Light’ and ‘Let Me Fly’. Much has been made of the disc’s poor sound quality, but it strikes me as entirely adequate for a live LP; the problem is with the performances, which sound like a stodgy tribute band reinterpreting Airplane numbers in a generic modern rock style (most notably on a dreadful stab at ‘Plastic Fantastic Lover’). In particular, the contributions of keyboardist Chris Smith are nothing short of atrocious, and the band really would have been better off without him. GRADE: C+.
Jefferson Starship (USA): BB King’s Blues Club, New York City 10-31-00 (CD Internet Archive XM1, triple CD, 2001)
Psychedelic/Folk
Diana Mangano (joint lead vocals)
This gargantuan 35-track set sees the band performing in a semi-unplugged format, with electric guitar but no bass or drums. The material is well-chosen, including a number of obscure gems from the Jefferson Airplane and Kantner/Slick back catalogues, making for an enjoyable set. For sure, I can’t imagine anyone choosing these interpretations over the originals, but only a few cuts completely miss the mark and ‘Eskimo Blue Day’ in particular is superb. The set was reissued, with completely different packaging, as Mick’s Picks Volume One – BB King’s Blues Club 10/30-31/00 (Bear BEARVP101CD, UK, 2008). GRADE: B–.
Jefferson Starship (USA): Across The Sea Of Suns (Zebra ZD 44024-2, double HDCD, 2001)
Rock/Psychedelic
Diana Mangano
With strong performances of an exceptionally good set of tracks, this is by far the best album to date from the ‘new generation’ of the Starship. On the downside, the recording is nothing to write home about, despite the use of the audiophile HDCD format, but it’s perfectly adequate for a live album. GRADE: B+.
Jefferson Starship (USA): Vinoy Park, St Petersburg, Florida 11-11-00 (CD Internet Archive xm2, double CD, 2001)
Rock/Psychedelic
Diana Mangano (joint lead vocals)
The tracklisting isn’t as good as on Across The Sea Of Suns: ‘Count On Me’, ‘Borderlands’ and ‘America’ are pretty superfluous, and nine minutes of Balin’s solo hit ‘Hearts’ is at least five too many. Also, the performances are a bit of a mixed bunch, with ‘Ride The Tiger’ being surprisingly subdued. But when it’s good (most notably on a barnstorming ‘The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil’) it’s superb. GRADE: B–.

Jefferson Starship (USA): Mother Of The Sun (Secret Knock UM6D 7884097912, with fold-out ‘box’ sleeve, 2020)
Rock
Cathy Richardson (joint lead vocals)
Take two minor members of Jefferson Starship, one now an octogenarian, and a few sidepeople who used to play with Paul Kantner. Add four fair-to-middling AOR/mainstream rock songs. Bulk out with a live improvisation based around Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Embryonic Journey’ and a slightly extended version of one of the songs. Serve half-baked, but lavishly presented. That’s the recipe for Mother Of The Sun. One Starship fan wrote online that it was better than he had expected, and I can see where he’s coming from. But this is also a damn sight worse than I was hoping for. GRADE: C.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Live In Central Park NYC May 12, 1975 (RCA/Real Gone Music RGM-0183, double CD, 2013, recorded 1975)
Rock
Grace Slick
With superior bootleg sound quality, this is an interesting archive release, but it’s not a great gig. Most of the show concentrates on a mish-mash of recent material – stuff from Dragonfly and the forthcoming Red Octopus, from Grace Slick’s Manhole, from Bodacious DF and even from Papa John Creach’s solo career, with Balin, Slick, Kantner, Freiberg and Creach all taking turns on lead vocals. It’s all pretty mediocre, with already dull material being given ragged performances as the band play shamelessly to the gallery, and it’s only when they tackle a few Airplane classics that the show really comes alive. GRADE: C+.

Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Winterland 24/11/1974 (Wolfgang’s Vault, download, 2012, recorded 1974)
Rock/Progressive/Psychedelic
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals, organ)
The really striking thing about this 2¼-hour show is that – despite the presence of Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, John Creach, John Barbata and David Freiberg, plus Marty Balin on the encores – this clearly isn’t Jefferson Airplane. It isn’t just that they skirt the Airplane’s repertoire (with a few notable exceptions) in favour of  the then-contemporary Dragon Fly plus stuff from Blows Against The Empire and Manhole and even Creach’s solo repertoire. It’s that the jams feel a whole lot stiffer, confirming that Craig Chaquico – notwithstanding his clear technical proficiency – isn’t Jorma Kaukonen and Pete Sears – despite a six-minute bass solo – isn’t Jack Casady. Nonetheless, though the quality of the songs varies considerably, with some of the Manhole and Dragon Fly stuff being decidedly adequate, this is sometimes quite brilliant, as on a superb rendition of the suite from Blows…. As for the sound quality: it’s perfectly decent, but Betty Cantor won’t be shaking in her boots. GRADE: B–.
Jefferson Starship (USA/UK): Pacific Amphiteatre 27/6/1984 (Wolfgang’s Vault, download, 2012, recorded 1984)
Rock 
Grace Slick (joint lead vocals)
Recorded the day after Paul Kantner left the band, this features an expanded line-up including future Starship Svengali Peter Wolf (whom I presume is responsible for the terrible tinkly keyboard solos that grace a couple of songs) plus several backing singers including Kantner’s daughter China. Mostly concentrating on recent material, it’s a decent live set but the band’s energy can’t conceal the fact that many of the songs are merely fair-to-middling. 

GRADE: C+.
See also Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Starship