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Sweeping Up the Spotlight - Live At the Fillmore East 1969

Jefferson Airplane

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Album Review

Jefferson Airplane were less focused in 1969 than they had been in the Summer of Love two years before. Recorded at the Fillmore East, these performances find the Airplane coming off their most recent album, Volunteers, released a month earlier, with the band a lot looser (drug use aside) and fractured. The factions in the group were presenting themselves during performances, and this set is no exception. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady connected and jammed like they would have been just as content without the vocals getting in the way, Grace Slick and Paul Kantner combined their voices and played off each other, while Marty Balin screamed and crammed lyrics together, leaving little space for anyone else. During this era, harmonizing seemed out of the question, especially when the older tracks, like "Plastic Fantastic Lover," were being played at warp speed. Slick and Balin mainly yell over each other, a combination of clashing personalities and competition with the sheer volume of the instruments. In the era of Cream and Hendrix, the Airplane had become entwined with jazz-influenced improvisation and the distorted, electric end of the blues; the softer, folkie side of the band was nowhere to be found. For what the Airplane were doing at the time, there's no doubt that this was exciting and adventurous music, albeit without the intimate yin to the blazing yang. Collectors will want to pick up this set, at the very least, for the inclusion of the rarely heard "Uncle Sam Blues," "You Wear Your Dresses Too Short," and "Come Back Baby."

Biography

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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