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Jefferson Airplane Takes Off

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Album Review

The debut Jefferson Airplane album was dominated by singer Marty Balin, who wrote or co-wrote all the original material and sang most of the lead vocals in his heartbreaking tenor with Paul Kantner and Signe Anderson providing harmonies and backup. (Anderson's lead vocal on "Chauffeur Blues" indicated she was at least the equal of her successor, Grace Slick, as a belter.) The music consisted mostly of folk-rock love songs, the most memorable of which were "It's No Secret" and "Come Up the Years." (There was also a striking version of Dino Valente's "Get Together" recorded years before the Youngbloods' hit version.) Jorma Kaukonen already displayed a talent for mixing country, folk, and blues riffs in a rock context and Jack Casady already had a distinctive bass sound. But the Airplane of Balin, Kantner, Kaukonen, Anderson, Casady, and Spence is to be distinguished from the Balin, Kantner, Kaukonen, Casady, Slick, and Dryden version of the band that would emerge on record five months later chiefly by Balin's dominance. Later, Grace Slick would become the group's vocal and visual focal point. On Takes Off, the Airplane was Balin's group. The 2003 reissue of Takes Off includes eight bonus tracks: uncensored versions of "Let Me In" and "Run Around," an early version of "Go to Her," previously unreleased alternate versions of "Chauffeur Blues" and "And I Like It," as well as tracks "Runnin' 'Round This World," "High Flying Bird," and "It's Alright."


Formed: 1965 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Jefferson Airplane was the first of the San Francisco psychedelic rock groups of the 1960s to achieve national recognition. Although the Grateful Dead ultimately proved more long-lived and popular, Jefferson Airplane defined the San Francisco sound in the 1960s, with the acid rock guitar playing of Jorma Kaukonen and the soaring twin vocals of Grace Slick and Marty Balin, scoring hit singles and looking out from the covers of national magazines. They epitomized the drug-taking hippie ethos as well...
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