Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bow down to the San Francisco ladies

20 Jefferson Airplane, ‘Crown Of Creation’

Fiercely intelligent, extremely perceptive, powerfully talented, politically astute, brazenly anti-establishment, gorgeous women scare the hell out of me. I’m like George Costanza (Seinfeld) who forgets his own name when confronted by one of these Amazonian super women.

Grace Slick has always been one of those women for me. Someone to worship from afar but I know I’d be swatted away like a fly if I ever had a chance to meet her and tell her how great she is. Plus she was with Paul Kantner. The male version of all those things above. Except she wasn’t really with Kantner – they were sexually liberated superbeings who could have it all, without any bourgeoisie hang-ups about possessions and pesky human relationships. Wooo – what a woman!! And what a voice.

Grace’s voice and delivery matches what I’ve built up in my mind about Grace the woman. It’s lusty, fully committed and beautiful. It’s no easy choices for Grace either – she’ll have a go at it all. She can sing solo rock stuff like Silver Spoon from Sunfighter with no problem. She can do the heavy metal/hard rock guitar moll stuff (the Wreaking Ball album) and she takes on the sensitive singer/songwriter schtick, on the album Dreams, like a west coast natural. Whether prog noodling on Manhole or eighties computer vamp on Software; you hum it she can sing it. Apart from all that, she sings divine soaring harmony time and again for Jefferson Airplane/Starship, with any combination of Marty Balin, Kantner, or David Freiberg.

It’s probably in the latter guise that I love her most. The live versions of Have You Seen The Saucers and Crown Of Creation on the Thirty Seconds Over Winterland album are some of the best examples. The three singers of the Airplane at this time – Kantner/Freiberg and Slick intertwine their voices with crystal clear precision. Grace soars and swoons around the melody lines and the music from Papa John Creach (violin), Jack Cassidy (bass), Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar) and John Barbata (drums) is fittingly superb. But it’s Grace that steals the show, every time.

Two versions to choose from - 1989 or 1968

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