In one of a series of shows Gleason produced for the National Education Television Network, what were arguably the three biggest rock bands to come from San Francisco at the time — Jefferson Airplane, Santana, and the Grateful Dead — are captured here in some of the most remarkable footage from that era that I have ever seen.
What you see here are a lot of the things you would expect from a period piece shot during this era. There's the psychedelic light show, there's the stoned out hippies in the crowd, and of course there's the hippie chicks with the bouncing breasts dancing like there is simply no tomorrow. Damn, I miss those days.
But what you also see here, is the spirit of free form improvisation that set San Francisco music uniquely apart from everything else that was going on in rock music at the time.
For their part, Santana does play "Soul Sacrifice" here. But it is a comparitively much more subtle version than the fiery performance captured in the Woodstock movie. Carlos was the star of that show. Here, it is rather the unique percussive combination of drummer Mike Shrieve and those conga guys, Mike Carabello and Jose Chepito Areas. Dave Brown, who is surely one of the most underated players to ever pick up a bass guitar also looks and sounds great on this DVD.
Speaking of great bass players, the Jefferson Airplane footage here is something else entirely. This is simply the best live Airplane stuff I have ever seen — much, much better than what is shown on the band's one official live DVD, Fly.
The main reason for this is that — unlike other live Airplane performances — this one zeroes in specifically on Jack Casady, who is for my money one of rock and roll's best bassists ever. During an intense version of "Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil," Casady is shown up close and personal, letting his long fingers do the walking all over the place on his bass. The camera also zeroes in on Jorma Kaukonen doing a great guitar solo during the Grace Slick vocal vehicle "Eskimo Blue Day."