Collectors’ Choice Music has just released four historic and classic live albums by The Jefferson Airplane. The first two, chronologically, focus on Signe Anderson’s last concert with the band recorded 10/15/66 and Grace Slick’s debut 24 hours later. They present the future Rock And Roll Hall of Fame group at the crossroads of their career as they had just acquired one of rock’s supreme voices and enduring personalities.
The third album in the series was recorded a little over a month after Slick’s debut. Live At The Fillmore Auditorium 11/25/66 & 11/27/66 – We Have Ignition is a two disc, 28-song set which covers two of their performances. There is repetition as eight of the songs are repeated but as this is a live album there are differences and it’s nice to hear the variations that appear in the material.
My only major complaint is the lack of liner notes. Both of the first two releases came with booklets that provided biographical information about the group. This one has nothing and it would have been nice to have had connector material from Slick’s first six weeks with the band but since there is nada the music will have to do.
Grace and the band have come a long way in a short time. Here we find her beginning to assert herself as a vocal presence and force within the band. The appearance of her composition ‘White Rabbit” signaled her emergence as a rare sixties female rock performer of note. Slick wrote the song while she was a member of The Great Society and brought it with her to The Airplane. It became one of the signature songs of the psychedelic era. The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame ultimately honored it as one of The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock ‘N’ Roll. This early presentation shows a young Grace Slick on the way to stardom.
The sets are tighter than the first two albums in the series. While their improvisational styles are still very much present, they are more controlled as only two tracks exceed seven minutes. Still songs such as “Fat Angel,” “The Other Side Of Life,” “3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds,” and “High Flyin’ Bird” demonstrate the group’s developing improvisational prowess. When you combine those performances with such staples as “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “She Has Funny Cars,” and “It’s No Secret” you have the foundation of a classic Jefferson Airplane concert.
This third album in the series chronicles the continued development of one of the great American rock bands. They are still an excellent listen 44 years later.