Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers

This 6th album by the Airplane, released in 1969, shows the band at their most political, with anti-war and anarchistic messages, and the loveliest reading of "up against the wall motherfucker" you're likely to hear in a song! Guest musicians included the likes of Jerry Garcia, Nikki Hopkins, David Crosby and Stephen Stills.

Opening with the rockin' "We Can Be Together", Jorma riffs around the catchy harmonized melody while they sing of being outlaws, anarchy and "up against the wall"! The traditional "Good Shepard" gets a folk/psych reading at the hands of Kaukonen, who adds some really fine guitar lines. The get into country rock with "The Farm", complete with Garcia's pedal steel and Slick's honky-tonky piano and then get quite heavy with Slick's "Hey Fredrick", where she also adds piano and more amazing vocals while Jorma gives a wild performance with dueling lead guitars.

Side two of the album began a bit mellower with "Turn My Life Down" (with Stills on Hammond organ), though it picks up pace pretty quickly and David Crosby's "Wooden Ships" is given a sweet reading. I think I still slightly prefer CSNY's version, but this is right up there. "Eskimo Blue Day" is a bit psychedelically disjointed, but is also one of my favorite songs of theirs with the lopping, changing rhythms, stinging leads and, again, Grace belting it out with passion and power and perfect pitch. Not quite as successful for me is their other foray into country in Spencer Dryden's "Song For All Seasons". Slick plays organ for the traditional "Meadowlands" and then the band blasts into the ferocious title track that begins with Balin singing/shouting "look what's happening in the street - start a revolution!" Definitely one of their most high-energy performances and a fantastic song.

Another excellent JA record, from start to finish. This belongs in any psych-rock fan's collection!