12. The Great Society: Sally Go 'Round The Roses
While Grace Slick's name is forever linked to Jefferson Airplane, some might not realize that she wasn't a founding member; she was drafted from the Great Society by Paul Kantner (via emissary Jack Casady) when original Airplane singer Signe Anderson elected to leave following their 1966 debut album. The Great Society had been Slick's first band, a semi-popular outfit on the Haight she had formed in 1965 with her husband Jerry Slick on drums, brother-in-law Darby Slick on guitar and David Minor on guitar/vocals. The band wasn't a tight unit; Sly Stone, attempting to produce an early recording, walked out after 50 straight blown takes of the same song. However, their preserved live recordings, first released in 1968 after Slick had become a big name, show an atmospheric and colorful raga-rock outfit that had Slick's voice as a drawing card, a couple of excellent originals (Slick's own "White Rabbit" and Darby's "Somebody To Love"), and a naive charm that sounds good as a period piece. "Sally Go 'Round The Roses" is their best moment; a long raga-rock treatment of the Jaynettes' mysterious, quasi-lesbian anthem, it benefits mightily from Slick's keening voice and Darby Slick's guitar (the solo, accompanied by droning organ, sounds closest to a real raga than any other raga rock excursions). The band opened for the Airplane at the Matrix and other venues; when Slick joined the Airplane, the band folded. Jerry and Grace separated in 1967; she and Kantner would have a child in 1971.
13. Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks: Canned Music
Dan Hicks' musical odyssey is an odd one, and his oddball musical direction has sustained him for decades, as he continues to play for a small but fervent cult. Originally a drummer, he switched to guitar and grew up playing folk in the Bay area. His first group, the Charlatans got a lot of notice for their musical eclecticism and image, but for a number of reasons were unable to get an album together and released. In 1968, Hicks formed Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, a sextet, to open for the Charlatans, who were past their peak, and eventually won more interest than the mothership. He cut the Charlatans adrift shortly after and focused on his new band, adding the Lickettes as backing vocalists (vocalists Sherry Snow and Christina Viola Gancher). Their debut album, Original Recordings, from 1969 is quite unlike anything else. The band sounds like the stoned hippie amalgamation they were; somewhat out of tune, somewhat out of synch, although in retrospect, this adds to the charm. It's Hick's strange visions that make the album interesting, among which is a strings-aided acoustic Western swing that sounds old and organic even as it fakes it; the wispy Lickettes make eerie sidekicks. "Canned Music" is a prime example of this style; Hicks refined this style over the years and multitudes of albums (Hicks ended His Hot Licks at the end of the 70's, but has released solo albums consistently in the 90's and 00's).