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Now Boarding: Jefferson Airplane Reissues Take Off On BGO and Friday Music

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Now departing from San Francisco: it’s Jefferson Airplane! While the classic band’s live reissue series launched by Collector’s Choice Music remains in limbo, fans of the classic rock line-up of Grace Slick, Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Spencer Dryden don’t have to fear! Both BGO Records and Friday Music have a rich slate of Airplane projects to keep the group flying high!

Friday Music kicks things off with a 180-gram vinyl LP remastering of the ironically-titled 1970 collection The Worst of Jefferson Airplane. Its fifteen tracks cover the band’s first six albums including the era-defining singles such as “Somebody to Love,” “White Rabbit” and “Volunteers.” (All three songs were played at the band’s blazing set at Woodstock just months before the release of this collection.) Friday’s Joe Reagoso has teamed with Kevin Gray to remaster The Worst for its 180-gram debut for pristine sound quality. Friday will present the album in a replica of its original gatefold including artwork of RCA Victor’s famed Nipper. The vinyl will be housed in a poly sleeve, and the LP itself in a poly cover.

At the time of the initial release of The Worst, the band was still an active unit.  Jump forward a few years, and the Airplane had fractured. Casady and Kaukonen created a whole new revolution with Hot Tuna, their back-to-the-blues band, which debuted as a side project in 1970. That same year, Paul Kantner released Blows Against the Empire, credited to “Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship.” (The actual band, Jefferson Starship, wouldn’t officially form until four years later.) Kantner and Slick would record 1971’s Sunflower under their own names, and Slick struck out on her own in 1973 with Manhole. The same year, Slick teamed with Kantner and David Freiberg for another sci-fi epic, Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun. It couldn’t have come as much of a shock when Jefferson Airplane disbanded in 1974 (with Casady and Kaukonen devoting their attention to Hot Tuna) and Jefferson Starship rose from its ashes.

1977’s Flight Log (1966-1976) chronicles the heady ups and downs of the Jefferson Airplane family over that decade-long period. BGO has remastered the original Flight Log as a 2-CD set. The 21 tracks mark the only compilation of its kind, including tracks fom the Airplane and Starship plus Hot Tuna and the Kantner, Slick and Kaukonen solo projects. One track, “Please Come Back,” is heard in a 1976 live version from Winterland which made its premiere on Flight Log. BGO’s new edition boasts a 20-page color booklet reprinting the original LP’s copious scrapbook-style notes and photos, plus a new 2010 essay by John Tobler.

BGO complements Flight Log with a standalone reissue of Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun. This Kanter/Slick/Freiberg collaborative effort featured guest appearances from the other Airplane members but featured Jerry Garcia playing lead guitar on most tracks (as well as steel guitar and banjo) and Chris Ethridge, of the Flying Burrito Brothers, on bass. Mickey Hart participated in the sessions, and frequent Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter penned the words to “Harp Tree Lament.” David Crosby lent his angelic voice to “The Ballad of the Chrome Nun.” Baron von Tollbooth is still available in 1997’s RCA version but completists can expect a new remastering for the BGO edition.

Hit the jump for the track listings for all three releases plus the usual discographical information and pre-order links!

Jefferson Airplane, The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (RCA LSP 4459, 1970 – reissued Friday Music, 2011)

  1. It’s No Secret
  2. Blues From An Airplane
  3. Somebody To Love
  4. Today
  5. White Rabbit
  6. Embryonic Journey
  7. Martha
  8. The Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil
  9. Crown Of Creation
  10. Chushingura
  11. Lather
  12. Plastic Fantastic Lover
  13. Good Shepherd
  14. We Can Be Together
  15. Volunteers

Tracks 1-2 from Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, RCA LSP-3584, 1966
Tracks 3-6 from Surrealistic Pillow, RCA LSP-3766, 1967
Tracks 7-8 from After Bathing at Baxter’s, RCA LSP-1511, 1967
Tracks 9-11 from Crown of Creation, RCA LSP-4058, 1968
Track 12 from Bless Its Pointed Little Head, RCA LSP-4133, 1969
Tracks 13-15 from Volunteers, RCA LSP-4238, 1969

Jefferson Airplane, Flight Log (RCA/Grunt CYL2-1255, 1977 – reissued BGO CD 970, 2011)

  1. Come Up the Years
  2. White Rabbit
  3. Comin’ Back to Me
  4. Won’t You Try Saturday Afternoon
  5. Greasy Heart
  6. If You Feel
  7. Somebody to Love (Live)
  8. Wooden Ships
  9. Volunteers
  10. Hesitation Blues
  11. Have You Seen the Stars Tonite
  12. Silver Spoon
  13. Feel So Good
  14. Pretty as You Feel
  15. Milk Train
  16. Ja Da (Keep on Truckin’)
  17. Come Again?/Toucan
  18. Sketches of China
  19. Genesis
  20. Ride the Tiger
  21. Please Come Back (Live)

Disc 1, Track 1 from Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, RCA LSP-3584, 1966
Disc 1, Tracks 2-3 from Surrealistic Pillow, RCA LSP-3766, 1967
Disc 1, Track 4 from After Bathing at Baxter’s, RCA LSP-1511, 1967
Disc 1, Tracks 5-6 from Crown of Creation, RCA LSP-4058, 1968
Disc 1, Track 7 from Bless Its Pointed Little Head, RCA LSP-4133, 1969
Disc 1, Tracks 8-9 from Volunteers, RCA LSP-4238, 1969
Disc 1, Track 10 from Hot Tuna, RCA LSP-4353, 1970
Disc 1, Track 11 from Blows Against the Empire, RCA LSP-4448, 1970
Disc 2, Track 1 from Sunfighter, Grunt FTR-1002, 1971
Disc 2, Tracks 2-3 from Bark, Grunt FTR-1001, 1971
Disc 2, Track 4 from Long John Silver, Grunt FTR-1007, 1972
Disc 2, Track 5 from Burgers, Grunt FTR-1004, 1972
Disc 2, Track 6 from Manhole, Grunt BFL1-0347, 1973
Disc 2, Track 7 from Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun, Grunt BFL1-0148, 1973
Disc 2, Track 8 from Quah, Grunt BFL1-0209, 1974
Disc 2, Track 9 from Dragon Fly, Grunt BFL1-0717, 1974
Disc 2, Track 10 rec. 1976, first released on Flight Log, Grunt CYL2-1255, 1977

Paul Kantner, Grace Slick and David Freiberg, Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun (Grunt/RCA BXL1-0148, 1971 – reissued BGO, 2011)

  1. Ballad of the Chrome Nun
  2. Fat
  3. Flowers of the Night
  4. Walkin’
  5. Your Mind Has Left Your Body
  6. Across the Board
  7. Harp Tree Lament
  8. White Boy
  9. Fishman
  10. Sketches of China

Written by Joe Marchese

April 22, 2011 at 09:43

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