"For me, the real Airplane was the live Airplane"


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Posted by Keith E Rice on 12/29/01 - 19:25:12
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Marty Balin, quoted by Jeff Tamarkin for the album notes to "LIVE AT THE FILLMORE EAST".

Though we could do with new material and albums that can be obtained outside the US/via the Internet, it's great that Paul & Co are putting out live albums virtually undoctored.

The peroid 95-01 has been the best time for Airship live albums since 67-69. (Even the abhorrent "FILLMORE GREATEST HITS" has a couple of moments!)

We could do with a Signe-era live album and something to fill the gap between Woodstock and "WINTERLAND".

What's really not covered, though - at least for the Mothership - is the great gulf from 74 to 94. Yet there are a number of commercial release quality tapes out there. I'll list the ones I know of. I'm sure fellow Starshippers can add many others.

"FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT" Winterland, San Francisco. Sept 76. (I have seen this credited to other venues/cities.)
"Miracles", "Hot Water" "St Charles", "White Rabbit", "Please Come Back", "Dance With The Dragon".
This is a bootleg taken from a much longer radio broadcast. "Please Come Back" also appears on "FLIGHT LOG" - which gives you an idea of the excellent quality of this set.
The entire band are on form. Paul particularly excels, playing some nice second 12-string lead behind Craig on "St Charles" and "Dragon". "White Rabbit" has a long intro with Sears left-hand vamping behind Craig's blistering guitarwork.

"KING BISCUIT HOUR" X's, San Francisco. New Year's Eve 79.
The Graceless Thomas-Dunbar band. Never heard it; but have heard it's excellent.

"MELLO YELLO" Merriweather Post Pavillion, Columbia, MO. 01/07/81.
"Somebody To Love", "Ride The Tiger", "Stranger", "Find Your Way Back", "Fast Buck Freddie", "Girl With The Hungry Eyes", "Save Your Love", "Alien", "Mary"/Bass Solo, "Jane", "Mistreater", "Warm Around The Watchfire"/"Light The Sky On Fire"/Drum Solo, "Dance With The Dragon", "Modern Times", "White Rabbit", "Rock Music", "Wild Eyes", "Freedom At Point Zero".
A stunning set that showed just how good the Thomas-Dunbar band could be. (...if you can cope with Mickey's "Awrites"!) Sears and Chacquico particularly are on top form. Pete takes every opportunity to break free from the pomp-rock straitjacket - he really drives "Dragon" to several peaks of intensity, hammer-ons "Tiger" and is ferocious on "Modern Times" and "Wild Eyes". As for Craig, he seems just fascinated with the sheer sonic power of his instrument, finds power riffs and bangs them out until you have no choice - they are lodged in your brain!
The Slick-Thomas pseudo vocal duel on "Rock Music" is lightweight fun. (But would Marty ever have done it?) Perhaps the highlight, though, is "Light The Sky On Fire" - which leaves the Marty studio version way behind.

"KING BISCUIT HOUR" Pacific Ampitheater, Costa Mesa. 30/06/84.
"Somebody To Love", "Stranger", "Find Your Way Back", "Sorry Me, Sorry You", "Magician", "Winds Of Change", "Layin' It On The Line", "Be My Lady", "No Way Out", "White Rabbit", "Jane".
Recorded just weeks - days, even? - after Kantner stomped offstage never to return, he's not obviously missed. That said, the band are hardly on fire. It's competent, rather than brilliant. "Magician" is taken just a tad too fast; Freiberg manages to work in a few interesting bass twists into "White Rabbit", and Sears creates the only major ah-ha moments with his trumpet synth on "White Rabbit" and "Be My Lady".

"KING BISCUIT HOUR" - KBC Band, Ritz, New York  City. 03/04/87.
"Plastic Fantastic Lover", "America", "Hold Me", "Wrecking Crew", "It's Not You, It's Not Me", "Mariel", "Ride The Tiger", "Girl With The Hungry Eyes".
Free from the confines of Clive Davis' production values, KBC sound a hell of a lot more interesting. This still isn't stunning stuff; but it has its moments. "Hold Me" sounds a lot more genuine here; and "Mariel" is pretty effective. The real revelation, though, is the reworking of "Hungry Eyes" - slower and with an exquisite piano-drum extemporisation.

"FILLMORE AUDITORIUM" - Hot Tuna + Kantner + Grace + Creach + Will Scarlett. 04/03/88.
"Know You Rider", "Hesitation Blues", "Walkin' Blues", "Other Side Of This Life", "The Bag I'm In", "99 Year Blues", "Mariel", "Wooden Ships", "Third Week In The Chelsea", ""Down Home Blues", "Keep On Truckin'" "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning", "Candy Man", "I See The Light", "Martha", "Embryonic Journey", "Ice Age", "Com Carlos Ponseca", "San Francisco Bay Blues", "Genesis", "Parchman Farm", "Good Shepherd" "Let Us Get Together", "John's Other", "High Flyin' Bird/Motherless Children", "Vampire Women", "Have You Seen The Stars Tonite", "Mann's Fate", "Put It In My Hand", "I'm movin'", "Killing Time In The Crystal City", "Water Song", "America", "Volunteers".
Post-KBC, Jack got Paul to tour with him and Jorma. Papa John turned up at a number of shows. And then Jack got Grace - looking to exit Starship anyway - to come onstage at San Franciso.
This is the second night radio broadcast, introduced by Bill Graham on the phone from Switzerland.
Paul's chord-based folk stuff - on which Jorma plays single line leads - does not always sit too comfortably alongside Kaukonen's own aggressive country blues picking; Papa John sounds dreadfully out of place at times - most notably on "Stars Tonite"; and Grace's walk-on parts are really that perfunctory.
That said, everyone's clearly having a good time; there's some terrific playing; and when Paul and Jorma do sing together - only on "San Francisco Bay Blues" and "Parchman Farm" - the effect is quite WOW!
All reunions should be this loose - and this much fun!

"KING BISCUIT HOUR" Garden Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ. 02/09/89.
"She Has Funny Cars", "Somebody To Love", "Plastic Fantastic Lover", "Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon", "Today", "Good Shepherd", "Lather", "Solidarity", "Wooden Ships", "America", "Freedom,", [Tuna Sub-set: "Hesitation Blues, "Embryonic Journey", "Trial By Fire", "Candyman", "Third Week In The Chelsea", "True Love", "Crown Of Creation", "White Rabbit", "Volunteers", "it's No Secret", "Baby, What You Want Me To Do", "Planes".
This reunion sounds nowhere near so much fun - though it does have its moments. ROLLING STONE christened them "Jefferson Airforce" - as spontaneity was curtailed by the sheer number of players on the stage. Almost inevitably then, the music really flows on the Hot Tuna Sub-set; and the Airplane stuff sounds stilted by comparison. Nonetheless, the new stuff sounds better here than on the reunion album. Perhaps the stand-out is "Good Shepherd" where the Kaukonen brothers seem sheerly hypnotised by the harmonics their guitars are creating  - one of those rare but exquisite timeless musical moments!

So, if the ownership/copywright issues could be resolved, could these albums be released? Perhaps by CIA?

If so, whatis the appropriate route to bring pressure on whoever to get the album(s) out in the market place?

Someday (hopefully!) CIA will find a regular distribution partner for the UK!

What other release-quality albums do Starshippers know are out there?


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