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Nuclear Furniture

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Album Review

Nuclear Furniture, like the other Jefferson Starship albums of the early '80s, is a competent but rather forgettable collection of radio-friendly dual guitar/keyboard period pop tunes. It holds up better than previous efforts Modern Times and Winds of Change, though, due to improved songwriting and the temporarily revitalized presence of Paul Kantner (who would acrimoniously leave the band, taking the "Jefferson" with him, after this album). Kantner's three efforts — "Connection," "Rose Goes to Yale," and "Champion" — paint an intriguing and sometimes humorous picture of sifting through a post-apocalyptic Earth. "Champion," in fact, perfectly synthesizes his dual roles as unapologetic idealist hippie and aging storyteller/mythmaker. The remaining tracks are largely mid-tempo rockers, sounding much like Foreigner filler. "No Way Out" became a Top 40 hit with its catchy keyboard riff, but on most of the other cuts, bandmembers Craig Chaquico, Pete Sears, David Freiberg, and Donny Baldwin are content to go through the motions. The usually thought-provoking Grace Slick commits the almost unpardonable sin of applying cheesy synth drums to her composition "Magician," but acquits herself on the smart, intense "Showdown," one of her finest moments of the '80s, both lyrically and vocally. All told, Nuclear Furniture is most notable in the Jefferson lexicon as the album that made permanent the schism between Paul Kantner's lingering political punditry and Mickey Thomas's desire for disposable arena rock. The tension between the two angles makes for an intriguing if uneven album.


Formed: 1974 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Jefferson Starship was among the most successful arena rock bands of the 1970s and early '80s, an even greater commercial entity than its predecessor, Jefferson Airplane, the band out of which it evolved. Many Jefferson Airplane fans decried the group's new, more mainstream musical direction, especially after Airplane singers Grace Slick and Marty Balin departed in 1978. But with shifting personnel, Jefferson Starship managed to please its new fans and some old ones over a period of a decade before...
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Nuclear Furniture, Jefferson Starship
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