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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jefferson Airplane

Long John Silver / Thirty Seconds Over Winterland

Review by Gary Hill

This new double disc set collects the final studio album from Jefferson Airplane (until the reunion, that is) along with the live album that was released around the same time. Both discs have some great music within. The studio set, at times, seems to lack a bit in production for me, but the music is great, and some of the lyrics are among the most poignant and controversial the band ever did. The live disc is so strong. The set includes a great booklet, and is well worth having.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
CD One
                   
Long John Silver
          
Long John Silver

There is a cool hard rocking vibe to this piece. It's not as creative as some Airplane tunes in terms of the musical arrangement, landing more in a mainstream blues rock vein. That said, the vocal section brings some intriguing, almost experimental stuff, and the instrumental break provides some jam band type sound.

Aerie (Gang of Eagles)
There is a soaring kind of vibe to this cut. Of course, that's appropriate given the subject matter. This is a classy number that fits well within the Airplane catalog. It has a good energy and drive.
Twilight Double Leader
This energized tune calls to mind the middle ground between the Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship sounds. It also harkens back to the earlier era of the Airplane. I love just about everything about this tune. The vocal arrangement is multi-layered and classical. There are some great moments of instrumental work here, too.
Milk Train
Grace Slick's voice is a big part of the magic of this tune. The number is up-tempo and quite strong, though. It's just that Slick puts in such a magical performance here.
The Son of Jesus
More of a melodic vibe is on display here, but only marginally. This has more of that Jefferson Starship texture to it. The multilayered vocal arrangement is great, and I love how the guitar just seems to explore nearly the whole tune.
Easter?
There is a slower moving dramatic vibe to this cut. Again, the guitar dancing around the whole tune is a great touch. I dig the piano presence on this number. The section that drops back to essentially Slick's vocals is cool.
Trial By Fire
With a cool folk rock turned electric psychedelia vibe, this tune is classy stuff. The vocals are of the male variety (Jorma Kaukonen)  and almost bring some hints of country music. This is a cool tune that provides some variety.
Alexander the Medium
The lead vocals on this one are also male (this time Paul Kantner), but Slick has a prominent role here. The cut is one of the classic Airplane sounding things that has quite a bit of change in it. There are some proggy elements built into this, too. This is an extensive cut, taking up more than six-and-a-half minutes of the album.
Eat Starch Mom
The main song structure on this makes me think of "Plastic Fantastic Lover" to a good degree. This is a hard rocking number that really works so well.
CD Two
            
Have You Seen the Saucers?

This live performance is on fire. I love the guitar sound on this thing. The song itself is so cool, but they really excel on this live take.

Feel So Good
More of a straight ahead rock and roller, this is classy here. I love the guitar work on the tune. The whole piece has some great energy and vibe. It's a real powerhouse jam that runs for well over eleven minutes. They get into some killer psychedelic jam band zones in the instrumental section later in the piece.
Crown of Creation
This is one of my favorite Airplane tunes. They put in a great live rendition of this number.
When the Earth Moves Again
This is another powerhouse live Airplane number. It's energetic and really works well.
Milk Train
Here we get a tune from the previous disc in a smoking hot live performance. They drop it back to a cool violin section near the end.
Trial By Fire
Another from Long John Silver, this comes in with a mellower, homey kind of vibe. The studio version has a bit more of country vibe, but this one feels more psychedelic.
Twilight Double Leader
The closer of the set also comes from Long John Silver. I think I prefer this live take to the one on the studio album. It really seems to gel and gain some serious magic in the live performance. The guitar work on this is on fire. Then again, so is the whole treatment.
 
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