Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fly Jefferson Airplane

Like most now middle-aged children of the '60s, I was introduced to rock 'n roll by the Beatles. But the band whose music served as background to my high school years was Jefferson Airplane. And three decades later, I'm still a diehard Airhead. In fact, I've seen the most recent version of Jefferson Starship perform live (with Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, and Jack Casady aboard) three times since 1995 and plan to attend a local concert (just 15 minutes from my home -- amazing!) next month.

Which brings me to this remarkable DVD, uncovered last night while I browsed through Boo Boo Records in downtown San Luis Obispo. What a treasure!

Fly Jefferson Airplane is a two-hour documentary featuring recent interviews with the classic Airplane roster (Kantner, Balin, Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Spencer Dryden (RIP) and, of course, Grace Slick). The members reflect on the '60s, the band, its music...and it's all fascinating. But the real meat on this DVD is the wonderful collection of live and televised Airplane performances, most of which I hadn't seen for 35 years and some of which I'd never seen.

  • "It's No Secret," from the Bell Telephone Hour in 1966, featuring Grace's predecessor, Signe Anderson.
  • Two performances from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival ("Somebody to Love" and "High Flying Bird").
  • Both appearances Airplane made on the old Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967 ("White Rabbit") and 1968 ("Crown of Creation" and "Lather"). The '68 Smothers show was especially controversial because Grace performed in blackface and wore a black leather glove, closing "Crown of Creation" by raising her fist in the Black Power salute (a la Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the just-concluded Olympics in Mexico City).
It's wonderful having all these clips available finally to watch again and again. And the DVD even offers the convenient option of skipping the documentary altogether and just watching all the performance footage. Extras on the DVD include bonus interview material and a nice photo gallery (again, with lots of things I'd never seen before).

For Jefferson Airplane fans, I give Fly Jefferson Airplane FIVE STARS (out of five).


Post a Comment

<< Home