Friday, January 29, 2016

High Plane's Drafter

Welcome to the weekend! Let's start it off in grand 2016 fashion, with yet another death of yet another architect of the music of our lifetimes. I sure didn't intend this page to be In Memoriam in perpetuity, but here we are anyhow.
Yesterday we lost the co-founder and essential musical director of a seminal group from my neck of the woods. The classic 1960s "San Francisco Sound," surely one of the most globally influential substrata of Rock music, would not have been what it became without today's honoree.
Yes, today we mourn the loss and celebrate the life and lasting legacy not of a flashily pyrotechnic lead guitar slinger, or an iconic vocalist, or a bedrock drummer or linchpin bassist. Today is about the catalyst that excels at putting the people holding those instruments into motion with something to run with. The person more in charge of the songwriting and the quality control. In order for Grace Slick and Marty Balin to sing about how we should be together, and for their whole generation to hear the message, someone had to first write those words down on a sheet of paper.
By now you have figured out that that someone was Paul Kantner, co-founder and pilot of the Jefferson Airplane and 1st Officer of the Jefferson Starship, who passed away yesterday at 74 from multiple organ failure brought on by a series of heart attacks over these last few years. Strangely, I had been tuned into the director's cut of Woodstock and had watched the whole Airplane segment just the other night. For whatever reason, it caught my attention before bedtime.
There's Paul on the left, holding it down even though they had been waiting something like all of August 1969 to go onstage. Watching their set in the film on Wednesday night, I was struck by how integral he is to what's going on, and how he was central to their sound even in a concert setting where the back row of the show was somewhere in the next zip code.
Somehow I could discern that this band was mostly his idea, even though he seems somewhat backgrounded by the ridiculously charismatic frontline of Slick, Balin and Jorma Kaukonen with their twisty, winding vocal harmonies. PK's rhythm guitar definitely helped it all not to dissolve into a puddle of psychedelic goo, anyway.
So this is a Bay Area icon to whom we must bid farewell, a hometown hero out here. To match that iconography I am going to share one of the very bestest Jefferson Airplane things that circulates in archival, unreleased circles, revamped and reinvented by one of that community's top audio wizard-workers.
This was taped at what I believe was intended to be a two-night, Friday/Saturday stand at the old Winterland Ballroom in SF, for which apparently a third show was added on the Sunday to meet demand. The second and third nights were recorded from the mixing desk to reels, but the tapes had issues with the stereo mix and placement, and fluctuations in the stereo field.
Enter noted audio necromancer MOB, who worked on these sets extensively and ended up turning them into something virtually indistinguishable from a legitimate live album. He fiddled with the stereo imaging and moved things around until they settled into their proper places and the music was freed from bondage. In other words, he did a stunning job.
Jefferson Airplane
"A Weekend At Winterland"
Winterland Ballroom
San Francisco, CA
MOB remaster

01. Somebody to Love
02. Young Girl Sunday Blues
03. Wooden Ships
04. Volunteers
05. Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
06. Uncle Sam Blues
07. Fat Angel
08. Greasy Heart
09. Martha
10. The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil

01. Eskimo Blue Day
02. 3/5 of a Mile In 10 Seconds
03. Mau Mau (Amerikon) Jam
04. The Other Side of This Life
05. Good Shepherd
06. Wild Tyme (H)
07. Greasy Heart
08. We Can Be Together
09. Come Back Baby

01. Martha
02. Plastic Fantastic Lover
03. Drifting
04. It’s No Secret
05. The Other Side of This Life
06. Wooden Ships
07. Eskimo Blue Day
08. You Wear Your Dresses Too Short
09. The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil

Total time: 3:08:50

Grace Slick - vocals, organ, percussion
Marty Balin - vocals, percussion
Paul Kantner - vocals, guitar
Jorma Kaukonen - guitar, vocals
Jack Casady - bass
Spencer Dryden - drums

master soundboard reels, meticulously corrected & remastered by MOB
I think that last picture was taken outside the Cole Street Cafe off Haight in SF. It also could be Vesuvio in North Beach, hmmmm. A friend of mine said he saw PK in there just three weeks ago, having a coffee. Either way, you're gonna wanna pull these shows down and start your weekend off remembering Paul Kantner, a true believer and one of the primary architects of the legendary San Francisco Sound, gone from us now but in no danger of slipping from memory anytime soon.--J.
We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together

3.17.1941 - 1.28.2016

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very very much! He's been on my listening list since Summer '67 when Pillow came out. Is it safe to assume that the Airplane, Grateful Dead and The Beatles aren't ever going to get back together again now?!!?