Jefferson Airplane - Volunteers (1969)

Jefferson Airplane were one of the best-known bands of San Francisco’s legendary 60s psychedelic rock scene. They were pioneers of the genre and the first band from the area to achieve mainstream commercial success.

Jefferson Airplane's fifth studio album proved to be one of their best. It was recorded at Wally Heider's state-of-the-art 16-track studio in San Francisco, and featured lots of musical guests including Jerry Garcia (on pedal steel), Stephen Stills (organ), Joey Covington (percussion) and English session pianist Nicky Hopkins (who was making his presence known in San Francisco at the time, as he also became a member of Quicksilver Messenger Service for a couple of years). All-girl San Francisco rock group Ace Of Cups sang backing vocals on a couple of songs, and the Airplane's road manager Bill Laudner even got to sing lead on "Song For All Seasons".
Musically, many of the songs were notably long and complex, including the classic "Wooden Ships", written by Paul Kantner in collaboration with Stephen Stills and David Crosby (their version appeared on Crosby, Stills & Nashs' debut album the same year). Elsewhere there were more acoustic textures, and a couple of brief excursions into country-rock. Hopkins piano was particularly prominent, and singer Grace Slick played a lot of piano throughout as well. Still, Jorma Kaukonen's electric guitar and Jack Casady's bass retained their position as the band's signature instrumental ingredients. In terms of lyrical themes, Volunteers focused on many subjects popular at time - anti-war, pro-anarchism, nature, community and the ecology. It can be seen as a classic album of the late-60s counter-culture, and the title song endures as its perfect two-minute distillation.
Ultimately it turned out to mark the end of an era for the band. It was their last with founding member Marty Balin, who had originally put the group together back in 1965. His contributions had decreased over the years, and here he only sang lead on two songs, and just got one co-writing credit. It was also their last album with drummer Spencer Dryden (he left for the New Riders Of The Purple Sage), who would be replaced by Joey Covington. Significantly, the band didn't record another album until 1971. In the mean-time the members were all distracted by side projects, most significantly Kaukonen and Casady's Hot Tuna blues project, and Paul Kantner's Blows Against The Empire solo album.

Bless Its Pointed Little Head (1969) <|> Bark (1971)
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1 comment:

rhubarb said...

Is this where Amon Duul II got their inspiration from?