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Album Review

Bark, Jefferson Airplane's seventh album, was an album of firsts: it was the first Airplane album in almost two years, the first made after the arrival of violinist Papa John Creach and the departure of band founder Marty Balin, and the first to be released on the group's own Grunt Records label. It was also the first Airplane album made after the onset of that familiar rock group disease, solo career-itis. Rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner had released his Blows Against the Empire, and Hot Tuna, the band formed by lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady, had released two albums since the last Airplane group release, Volunteers. Bark, perhaps as a result, was not so much a group record as a bunch of songs made by alternating solo artists with backup by the other group members. (Did someone say White Album?) Kantner's tunes were science-fiction epics reminiscent of Blows; Kaukonen's "Feel So Good" and the instrumental "Wild Turkey" were indistinguishable from Hot Tuna music, while his lilting ballad, "Third Week in the Chelsea," was nothing less than his resignation from the band, rendered in song; while Grace Slick's two contributions were characteristically idiosyncratic. The album's surprise was "Pretty as You Feel," a chart single that emerged out of a jam between new drummer Joey Covington, Casady, and Kaukonen. All of which is to say that there were some excellent songs on Bark (as well as some mediocre ones), even if the whole added up to less than the sum of the parts.

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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