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Various Artists

Go Ride The Music and West Pole DVD

Review by Gary Hill

For fans of 1960’s rock (and who isn’t, really?) this DVD set is a treat. It features two films of music from the heady days of 1969 and is a real tribute to the peak of psychedelia. Since this is actually two separate films it makes sense to look at each of them separately.

Go Ride the Music is the first disc of the set. The film is divided between two bands, The Jefferson Airplane (always one of my favorite psychedelic bands) and Quicksilver Messenger Service (a band who is legendary although not as well known in mainstream circles). The one complaint I have is that they skip between the two acts. I would have preferred if they had done all of one – particularly since they aren’t even from the same show – and then all of the other.  The CD case makes it look like that’s how it’s set up, but it’s a little deceptive.

Looking at the Airplane footage the first thing that really catches your attention is Grace Slick. It’s amazing to remember how young she was when they started this whole thing. The footage is good, looking to have been captured on film – video didn’t exist yet. They seem to like a split screen approach. While this is nice because it allows you to see different parts of the stage at once, it can be a bit distracting. The video is obviously dated in some ways, but really that’s a plus here. It helps to really make you feel like you are back in the crazy days of the late 1960’s.

Jefferson Airplane’s performance is just plain smoking. These guys were really such a great band live. It’s easy to listen to their albums and figure that it’s all studio magic, but they were a group that could really pull it off live. I’d have to say that this set would be worth the price of admission alone for the footage of the Airplane. Their sound was always amazing and it’s great to have these performances to watch whenever you like.

Turning our attention the Quicksilver Messenger Service stuff, this show was filmed outside – and I mean outside. There isn’t really even a stage, the band playing on the same dirt that the crowd is on. I’d have to say that this stuff doesn’t do as much for me as the Airplane set. The sound doesn’t seem as good, either. You can tell that the band were good, but it’s not quite my thing. At times I can get into it, but a lot of the time they are a bit too backwoods country for my tastes. That means for me it’s a good thing that the Airplane makes up about twice as much of the film as Quicksilver does.

That brings us to the second DVD – West Pole. This film features more acts than the first one – although both the Airplane and Quicksilver are represented. The Steve Miller Band and The Grateful Dead are also here, as are two bands who I was not familiar with – Ace of Cups and Sons of Champlin. I’d have to say that it’s a good thing this is the bonus. The film is not nearly as strong as the first one. There are some cool moments, but it misses a lot of the time. Still, for the footage of the bigger bands here it’s well worth having. Actually, fans of the band Chicago will probably want it for the footage of Sons of Champlin as Bill Champlin from this group went on to be a member of Chicago.

All in all this is a cool set that should be a real flashback for those who remember those days. For those of us to young to have been a part of that scene it’s a nice glimpse at some of the music that really made the hippie culture. It’s well worth having for whatever reason, although I would think that the first DVD will get more play than the second.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at

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