Sony Music/Legacy is releasing a new series of CD’s featuring live recordings by some of the classic artists of the last half century. The first batch of eleven Setlist releases includes Alabama, Blue Oyster Cult, Johnny Cash, Cheap Trick, Judas Priest, Kansas, Willie Nelson, Ted Nugent, Quiet Riot, REO Speedwagon, and the subject of my review today: Jefferson Airplane. Live tracks from prior releases have been gathered together with a few unreleased performances thrown in for good measure to create these new compilation albums. They do not have a concert feel as there is no flow from track to track. What they do accomplish is provide an excellent overview of each artist's live work at different periods of their career.
Jefferson Airplane formed during 1965 and quickly became one of the leading rock groups in the world. Their unique brand of psychedelic rock would enable them to sell millions of albums, become an incendiary live band, and be elected to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The original group was comprised of vocalist Marty Balin, guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, guitarist Paul Kantner, bassist Jack Casady, and drummer Spencer Dryden. When vocalist Grace Slick replaced Signe Anderson after one album their classic line up was complete.
Setlist: The Very Best Of Jefferson Airplane Live assembles tracks from Bless Its Little Pointed Head, Jefferson Airplane Loves You, Sweeping Up The Spotlight: Jefferson Airplane Live At The Fillmore East, and Thirty Seconds Over Winterland. Two previously unreleased performances complete the twelve track, one hour plus CD.
The classics “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit" both show the power of Glace Slick’s voice. The live atmosphere allows her to change things around a bit and provide some different nuances. Likewise “Comin’ Back To Me” showcases Marty Balin’s ability to carry a song for over seven minutes.
On the other hand “She Has Funny Cars,” “Have You Seen The Saucers,” and “Crown Of Creation” demonstrate how Balin and Slick could weave their voices together.
It is the longer tracks which best represent the Airplane’s live sound. “Feel So Good” (11:22), “Good Shepard” (7:19), and “Ballad Of You and Me and Pooneil” (10:27) all give Kantner and Kaukonen room to improvise on their guitars and prove why they were recognized as one of the best duos of their generation.Setlist: The Very Best Of Jefferson Airplane Live may not break any new ground but does cover the old very well. If you have not been exposed to the live Jefferson Airplane, this is a good place to start.