Relevant or not......


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Posted by John O'Malley on 01/02/02 - 00:50:15
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I'm also a relative newcomer to the music of the Airplane/Starship. Up until early last year I was only really familiar with the Starship of the 70's & 80's. The only Airplane songs I really knew were White Rabbit, Somebody To Love & Volunteers. After picking up Windows Of Heaven and catching the VH1 BTM episode..paying closer attention to the songs featured..something sparked with me. Starting with  "The Worst Of" then on to SP, Volunteers, COC, ABAB, Live At The Fillmore East and the 3 CD boxset. In a lot of ways it was like hearing a new band for the first time.

I'm not real fond of the current "popular musoc" scene...haven't be even since I graduated High School in 1989. Between the whiny self loathing the grunge scene, the fake plastic pop, and the toxic rantings of the thrash metal/rap bands. There have been a few bright spots to me..(Oasis, Sheryl Crow, Seal, Alanis Morissette, Eric Johnson and to a lesser degree Dave Matthews) otherwise there's a tremendous gap out there.  Outside of the Airplane/Starship a good portion of my CD collection consists of U2, The Who, The Beatles, Yes, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Billy Joel, Springsteen, ELP, Steely Dan, The Doors...etc etc

The word relevance in popular music circles doesn't mean a whole lot ot me...especially today. It's often used by "music critics" to sound important or smart. The Airplane certainly were in the late 60's. They were totally new and sounded unlike anybody of their time.  Their live performances and the rapidly changing social scenes of that era put them at the forefront among a handful of other rock groups. Like always, things change..and in the early 70's The Starship emerged and carried on with their strengths of soaring vocals and melodies. A bit more polished that the Airplane, but a great mixture of elements created a really diverse sound. After Marty left..another Starship emerged, a bit more fiercer sounding but still retaining an uncanny sense of melody and powerful vocals. When Paul jumped ship and the remaining "Starship" overtly relied on outside songwriters for hit singles is where they lose "relevance" with me.

Today..Paul, Marty and the current Starship may not be "relevant" in todays popular music circles but with the way things are..so what. Yes, the stormy history of the Airplane/Starship looms large, but it's the same with any longtime band/artist who are still performing today. The current Starship seems to have a enjoyable chemistry on stage and thoroughly enjoy playing songs that really do have a timeless quality to them.  If a new studio album appears I'll give it a listen.  For me the bottom line is the music and  their music does it for me.  Looking forward to seeing them again here in 2002...


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