Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Steve Silberman (digaman) Mon 28 Jul 03 14:36
I would love Blows outtakes as well -- rehearsal takes of Have You Seen the Stars Tonight would be loverly. > I have no idea where that alternative "Let's Go Together" came from but BMG at the time said that that was supposed to be the one that was going to be on the album and that it was on the master tape. Nonetheless I think purists would agree that it should be a bonus track Yes, mainly because the one on the original LP is about ten times better! The "Pooh" stuff gets a little thick on that alternate version <grin>. I suspect, purely on instinct, that the alternate is an earlier take before Paul really nailed the lyric.
AreWeReally? (arewereally) Mon 28 Jul 03 14:40
Hello Jeff... the book sounds fascinating. I heard your interview on KFOG and want to comment about Grace Slick's excuse for not wanting to go out on tour with the band. She has claimed over the years that sixty year old rock stars don't look good on stage dancing around in spandex which I don't think she ever wore. My belief is that even if she didn't wear spandex, many of us would love to see her on stage wearing anything and singing with the band.
from DEL HAMRIC (tnf) Mon 28 Jul 03 20:15
Del Hamric writes: > My favorite period of the band is when they had Craig Chaquico and Papa > John Creach playing with them. I remember a killer White Rabbit from that > period that I have always longed for. Do they have any taped shows from > that period that will ever see the light of day?
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Tue 29 Jul 03 09:57
OK, one at a time. I know that the Airplane did rehearse pretty regularly but some of the band members didn't really like to. if they sounded more "professional" than the other SF bands onstage that may have been purely accidental, although their music did call for some pretty tight arrangements that had to be nailed. I dount it had anything to do with RCA though. if RCA had told them they need to rehearse more they probably would have rehearsed less. Steve--I suspect you're right about the Blows track being an earlier take. I prefer the one on the album too. if and when BMG gets around to reissuing that album, if I'm still involved I'll definitely make that opinion known. Grace's "old rock stars" quote. Yeah, the quote itself is getting a little old but that's just Grace. I can understand where she's coming from although I don't wholly agree with it. This is the first time I chose not to see the Stones on tour since '72 because I really think Mick does look a bit silly, and I do think there are some other "older" bands that need to hang it up. But I think Grace misreads her fans--if she wanted to make a non-rock album or do something more "mature" onstage I'd be there. I mean, Jorma came out with an acoustic country album that's a million miles away from the old Tuna, and I love it. I think Grace just doesn't want to perform any more, period, and this is her way of quickly dismissing the question. Jefferson Starship live tapes--there are some, and supposedly the band recorded a 1978 show at Nassau Coliseum with the intention of releasing it as a live album, but I've not heard of anyone knowing where those tapes might be. I'd rather here a good live album compiled from the '74-'75 era myself. Certainly there are tapes of live JS that the traders have been circulating for years.
Betsy Schwartz (betsys) Tue 29 Jul 03 10:15
Moby Grape is still around? One of my favorite 60's albums is the Great Society with Grace Slick (I'm pretty sure mine is a reprint). I'm curious about how this band's history relates to Jefferson Airplane.
Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Tue 29 Jul 03 10:57
well you missed out on the stones because i thought it was the best stones show i have seen in 20 years.
Berliner (captward) Tue 29 Jul 03 11:14
The Great Society never put out an album, so what you have is a reissue. Agree, though, that it's good. Out on CD?
did dat cocaine, mash up de train (davism) Tue 29 Jul 03 13:01
yea the stones still kick ass live...and mick has always looked silly, it's only rock n roll but i love it.... and i for one would also love to see Grace perform again...i think she'd be great with the current JA/JS in some of the small clubs they play (e.g. the Ramshead Tavern in Annapolis...)
She's got a wireless card AND coffee! (tinymonster) Tue 29 Jul 03 16:32
> mick has always looked silly My thoughts exactly! ;D
Get your hands dirty or get your ass kicked. (stdale) Tue 29 Jul 03 17:05
Just weighing in to say that I loved the book, Jeff. One of my favorite bands from several of the favorite times of my life, with lots of stories I'd never heard and some that rekindled fond memories. I'll have more to say in a bit, but I note that the terms of Grace's probation that forbid her to posess firearms will expire next year. I hope *she* likes the book....(heh)
Jeff Loomis (jal) Tue 29 Jul 03 21:14
Somewhat off topic, but there was an interesting segment on Aldous Huxley and LSD on "Hofmann's Potion", which has been playing on Sundance lately. Carry on.
'Got To! (freeform) Wed 30 Jul 03 00:59
Hi Jeff! I really enjoyed your book. I had a chance to listen to the records being discussed in the book as I read it. It was a wonderful experience. I remember a show from '75 at Winterland. Marty had joined the band. There was a lot of energy in the place. To start the set, Paul was strumming the intro to "Ride the Tiger" to the rhythm of a martial arts swordsman's routine. I thought it was a really cool effect, and wondered if there was a story that goes along with it.
Adam Powell (rocket) Wed 30 Jul 03 07:26
Hello Jeff, I too am greatly enjoying the read. Did you know that Black Sheep sampleed "Today"? And was that sample cleared? As an aside, everyone: there is a FANTASTIC version of "Today" on the Montery Pop DVD with Grace on keys.
David Freiberg (freemountain) Wed 30 Jul 03 07:57
Isn't that the one that doesn't even have ONE shot of Marty singing? I always thought that was disgraceful (no pun intended). You certainly can understand Marty's frustration with the lack of recognition. ,, As an aside, everyone: there is a FANTASTIC version of "Today" on the Montery Pop DVD with Grace on keys. >>
Gary Lambert (almanac) Wed 30 Jul 03 08:28
I recall seeing an interview with Pennebaker where that was explained -- the camera that was supposed to be shooting Marty either ran out of film or flat-out broke, and no one was cued to the problem. In the editing room, they came up with this shot of Grace's lips moving and Marty's voice coming out on the opening verse (whether she was singing with the mic turned down or just mouthing the words, I know not). Pennebaker loved the image, and loved the performance of the song, so it stayed in the movie that way. But I can see how Marty might have been unamused!
David Gans (tnf) Wed 30 Jul 03 08:58
Photos of Jeff's event at the Booksmith in SF last week: http://www.304hollowayroad.com/jefferson/Tamarkin/Tamarkin.htm
OZRO W. CHILDS (oz) Thu 31 Jul 03 00:01
This sure is a discussion to bring back memories. I loved the way the early JA sang together. And yet, I found myself going more often to Dead or Big Brother or Quicksilver concerts. I think in retrospect if the JA had decided to emulate Steeleye Span and be a vocally-oriented folk rock band, I would have liked them better than I did. What the Dead and Big Brother and Quicksilver had were one or two songs that had huge musical hooks, that could lift the crowd to their feet and wipe out all thought, other than perhaps the anticipation that it would get even better, or the fear that sooner or later the song would have to end. JA and JS could kind of do this, but really, it's the songs and the beauty of it all that I remember. When I first saw Big Brother, they still did one song, "Roadblock" that didn't even need Janis to get the crowd going, though of course once she learned "Piece of My Heart" that was what everyone looked forward to. I always thought Janis made a huge mistake in leaving her band, no matter how bad they were as musicians, because they had the right kind of spirit and energy. But for now, I'm going to sit back and remember the sound of Marty and Grace, voices soaring into our hearts.
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Thu 31 Jul 03 05:46
Hi Betsy--Moby Grape is sort of still around. Skip Spence passed away a few years back but the others still occasionally play together and do gigs in various configurations. Unfortunately their entire career was short-circuited by their manager, Matthew Katz, who was also the Airplane's first manager. There's probably another whole book in this story alone, but I'm not gonna be the one to write it! The main Grape-JA connection is that Skip joined MG after being booted from the Airplane. Why he chose to work again with Katz knowing what the man was capable of is one of the great rock mysteries. Re Great Society--Any albums ever released on the band would be posthumous. There are a couple of CDs out there. The "Born to be Burned" collection on Sundazed is still available (try Amazon). >>I note that the terms of Grace's probation that forbid her to posess firearms will expire next year. I hope *she* likes the book....(<< I haven't spoken to her myself about it, but I've heard she likes it. She gave the San Francisco Chronicle a quote in which she said that I "know more about her and the band" than she does! Can't buy that kind of publicity. As for her gun thing, most of the Airplane, and a surprising number of their friends (i.e., Crosby) were into guns. So much for peace and love. Re martial arts swordsman: Yes, the Starship did feature a guy doing some pretty cool stunts during one of their early tours. I vaguely remember seeing him at that same '75 tour. Grace and Paul were going through a big Chinese phase at the time, into kung fu and all that stuff. Re Monterey Pop--Correct, Pennebaker told me the same story. The camera trained on Marty wasn't functioning so they used the Grace footage. He said "We thought we could get by on psychedelic." Marty is still hurting from that today. But then Marty is still hurting from a lot of things today that happened more than 30 years ago. Some for good reason, some maybe not.
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Thu 31 Jul 03 05:55
David asked a while back if I could run down the various musical influences that came together in the Airplane. So here goes. Paul was coming out of the folk sene on the Peninsula that also gave us Garcia, Janis, Jorma and through which passed the likes of David Freiberg, Dino Valenti, Crosby and many others of note. Very fascinating scene to me. Paul's main influences were the folk groups of the day, especially the Weavers. That was crucial in the decision to bring a woman into the Airplane. Marty was also coming out of a folk group when he started JA, but had also been involved in mainstream showbiz, i.e., performing in West Side Story. But his main musical love was R&B--he was really into the dynamic black singers of the '60s (Otis Redding would later become his favorite). Jorma was of course a blues purist, particularly into the fingerpicking of Rev. Gary Davis. He had traveled a lot in his childhood so he also picked up a bit of what we now call world music--he lived in Pakistan, the Philippines, etc. But for him it's mostly the pre-war acoustic blues. Jack was a jack of all trades, so to speak. He served as a guitarist and later bassist for hire in the D.C. area before coming out to SF but he was mostly into the R&B show bands that had horn players. Spencer Dryden was from Los Angeles and had played in strip clubs and was a jazz fanatic. But he'd also taken to Frank Zappa and really liked that kind of tightly timed, smartly arranged music. He had to learn to NOT play that way in JA, although he still had some chances to show his stuff (check out "rejoyce") with the band. Grace didn't really have one particular musical style she favored. She had gotten into some jazz, especially Miles Davis's "Sketches of Spain" album, and she liked Spanish music (flamenco) and orchestrated music. She wasn't really a big rock fan growing up but she did like the Stones. And so from those diverse backgrounds came the mish-mash called Jefferson Airplane.
David Gans (tnf) Thu 31 Jul 03 08:20
What a glorious mishmash! Can you tell us about their early history with the record business? How did the record companies approach the San Francisco psychedelic bands? How did RCA wind up with the Airplane? How did the bands deal with the commodification and image-mongering inherent in the process of marketing records?
John Ross (johnross) Thu 31 Jul 03 09:52
Watching the whole phenomenon from the other coast, I never understood why it seemed as if each of the major record labels signed one and only one Bay Area band -- RCA had the Airplane, Warner Bros had the Grateful Dead, Capitol had Quicksilver, Vanguard had Country Joe & the Fish, etc etc. It seemed odd that there wasn't one or two labels' A&R people who moved in and signed everybody in sight. Or some label who hired somebody local to act as their guy on the spot, the way Paul Rothschild signed many of the early-sixties Cambridge folkies for Prestige. Can you cast any light on this, Jeff?
Jeff Tamarkin (jefftamarkin) Thu 31 Jul 03 10:45
Actually, Capitol also had the Steve Miller Band too, but I know what you're saying. It's almost as if there was some tokenism involved--we need to show we're hip to the San Fran scene so let's get one of those hippie bands. Not that we have any idea what to do with them. RCA had no rock credentials at all outside of Elvis, whereas Capitol had the Beatles and Beach Boys, Columbia had the Byrds and Dylan, etc. So when the Airplane became the buzz around SF, RCA was very interested because the label desperately needed some rock on its roster. David, a lot of the stuff you're asking about is covered in the book (cheap plug) but to make a long story short: When JA first started playing the Matrix, Matthew Katz and Bill Thompson worked on getting the Chronicle's critics to the club to see them. Thompson worked as a copy boy at the paper and knew both John Wasserman and Ralph Gleason. Wasserman came first and wrote a nice piece but when Gleason raved about the band, literally every label sent its scouts immediately to check them out. The Airplane actually turned down most labels for one reason or another (usually money) but finally settled on RCA because the label offered the best deal, including sufficient production money. Or I should say that KATZ made the deal because honestly, the band didn't care who it signed with. Katz worked it out so that he got some money thrown his way as a "producer," even though he never actually produced anything. The band even auditioned for Phil Spector, which was apparently a very bizarre experience. I think the Airplane found the whole image and marketing thing more amusing than anything else. But they were a new band and no one had really set any precedents yet as far as breaking that mold, so they pretty much played the game until they had enough clout not to have to play it anymore. And by that time, the Dead, QMS and the others knew enough about the business so that when their turns came they didn't have to play it as much.
David Gans (tnf) Thu 31 Jul 03 10:52
> The band even auditioned for Phil Spector, which was apparently a very > bizarre experience. That isn't in the book! What can you tell us?
Berliner (captward) Thu 31 Jul 03 12:05
I'd also venture that the whole "alternative" rock thing hadn't been born yet, and nobody wanted to sign too many hippie bands in case it was some passing fad or something. Record companies back then were very, very conservative about spending their money, and their whole idea of rock music *was* the Beach Boys, Byrds, Beatles, et. al, all of whom were still making 3-minute tracks. Bands like Quicksilver, in particular, and I guess the Dead, too, must've scared the living shit out of the average A&R guy back then: "Do they ever stop playing?"
Jacques Delaguerre http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/ (jax) Thu 31 Jul 03 17:28
>> The band even auditioned for Phil Spector, which was apparently a very >> bizarre experience. > That isn't in the book! What can you tell us? It actually *is* in the book, a very paranoid episode!
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