The Essential Jefferson Airplane; RCA/Legacy 2-disc CD

by | Jun 30, 2005 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Essential Jefferson Airplane; RCA/Legacy 2-disc CD ***1/2: 

This newly-remastered material comes at the time of the 40th
anniversary of the formation of Jefferson Airplane in San Francisco.
[Man, do I feel old all of a sudden…Ed.]  They were one of the
first bands of the era to sign a major label recording contract and
released nine albums from 1966 to 1973 (including two live
records).  Their music is primarily a blend of rock, folk, and
blues that creates a sound that struck at the heart of the hippie
generation and the psychedelic era.  In addition to mostly hit
songs from their albums, this set contains both sides of their single
“Have You Seen The Saucers?.”  Two tracks are presented in their
mono version, and four of the tracks are from the live discs. 
Included with the set is a disc insert (liner notes) written by Jeff
Tamarkin, author of a popular book about the band.  He chronicles
(in brief) the band’s coming together (which was very random) and their
important influences on music of the time—”Jefferson Airplane both made
history and reflected it.”  It’s an excellent, succinct, history
of the band that should interest even the more serious fan.

When I first came across this set it seemed to me that it had already
been released.  In fact, what I have is a two-disc hits set of
Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship—the other bands
being the evolution of the original group.  That set is more
geared towards the casual fan.  While this set contains 32
Jefferson Airplane only tracks, the other contains 19 of the major hits
from the band and then 16 songs made up of the other material including
songs like “Miracles,” “We Built This City,” “Find Your Way Back,”
“Sara,” and more.  If the newer incarnations of the band are too
pop-oriented and 80s music isn’t your thing then The Essential
Jefferson Airplane is the set to get.

The stereo sound on many of the early tracks is hard panned. 
Sound is okay, but at times is harsh and congested.  You can hear
the transition from earlier material in style to the later material, so
this set really does offer a look at the evolution of the band. 
“Wooden Ships” is a cover of the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
song.  It’s good, but doesn’t have the magic of the
original.  Both track five and eight made it to the Top 10. 
Songs included are:  Blues From An Airplane; It’s No Secret; Come
Up The Years; She Has Funny Cars; Somebody To Love; Comin’ Back To Me;
Embryonic Journey; White Rabbit; The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil;
Martha (mono single version); The Last Wall Of The Castle; Watch Her
Ride; Lather; Crown Of Creation; Greasy Heart; Share A Little Joke
(mono single version); 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds (Live); Plastic
Fantastic Lover (Live); We Can Be Together; Good Shepherd; Wooden
Ships; Eskimo Blue Day; Volunteers; Have You Seen The Saucers?; Mexico;
When The Earth Moves Again; Pretty As You Feel; Third Week In The
Chelsea; Long John Silver; Twilight Double Leader; Feel So Good (Live);
Milk Train (Live).

-Brian Bloom

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