Spring of 2014 I heard a song on the radio that I really liked called Find Your Way Back by Jefferson Starship. Summer of 2014 I went to a cover band concert and heard them play a cover of Jane by Jefferson Starship. Fall of 2014 I decided to buy both of the singles because I liked them so much. Then I came up with the idea of checking out the rest of their music. I liked two of their songs, so why wouldn’t the rest of their music be great, too?
It was not until I started checking them out in February and did some research on the group that I realized a couple of things about Jefferson Starship. They had originally been a band called Jefferson Airplane, but they changed their style during the 1970s from psychedelic, hippy rock to progressive rock. I did not like the music from these albums at all because their songs were too long and did not rock enough in my opinion. The only song I remember of theirs from that decade would be Ride the Tiger, and not even that song sounded that great in my opinion. I then realized that they had made several albums during the late 1970s and early 1980s that had more of a pop rock sound to them with shorter songs and featured the two songs I really liked by them.
I found Modern Times and Nuclear Furniture as a double disc set at a nearby library, but had to go very far to get Freedom At Point Zero from another library. I never did manage to check out Winds of Change on hard copy because that copy was checked out and is by far the most obscure of all four of the albums, so I had to buy it on Itunes, but it has by far my favorite album cover of the four with the wolf and saturn in the background, so I didn’t mind too much. I then began to listen to all four albums closely.
I quickly realized that aside from the big single called Jane and Rock Music that most of the music on their Freedom At Point Zero album really flipping sucked. Modern Times not only had their other big hit single on it called Find Your Way Back but was definitely one of the more consistently good albums by them. Winds of Change was very much half and half. Half of the songs, particularly Winds of Change, Keep On Dreaming and Black Widow were good, while the other half of the songs, particularly I Came Back From the Jaws of the Dragon and Out of the Control were absolutely atrocious. Nuclear Furniture was another one of the more consistently good albums by them despite not having any big singles on it.
What I find most comical and frankly hilarious, too, about this quirky little music group is people’s reactions to the group. You know a group is perceived as kind of lame when even your parents condemn them. I found out that people who had listened to Jefferson Airplane during the 1960s felt the same way about Jefferson Starship, even before they became just Starship and made the atrocious We Built This City On Rock and Roll as their only big single, that I did about modern day Guns and Roses. I got the gist pretty quickly that most people didn’t just think Jefferson Starship had sold out, most people thought that they had taken a swan dive into a vat full of cow shit. You have to keep in mind that I was not alive during this time period, so I’m getting the idea of this group’s banality second hand.
However, after listening to all of these albums pretty closely for quite some time, I did find what I think are some gems hidden among the forgettable crap.
10. Stairway to Cleveland from Modern Times: I thought this song was weird when I first heard it, but then I found out about the context behind the song and thought it was a great song about rebellion. What could possibly be more rebellious than telling the critical critics and consumers that “they do want they want” as a band and nobody can tell them otherwise be it for better or worse?
9. Keep On Dreaming from Winds of Change: This song was actually kind of inspiring with its go after your dreams song message and its wide eyed, young hearted take on rock and roll legends. The guitar riff and solo are both fantastic.
8. Rock Music from Freedom At Point Zero: Maybe this song just looked good compared to most of the rest of Freedom At Point Zero, which was pretty terrible, but I thought that this song was a pretty good rock and roll anthem with a memorable guitar riff.
7. No Way Out from Nuclear Furniture: No Way Out is an interesting song with its serious, ominous tone.
6. Black Widow from Winds of Change: You can tell that Black Widow is going to be a good song from its guitar intro, which is pretty cool. It has a great guitar riff and some fantastic vocals from Grace Slick. It’s incredibly intriguing with its lyrics, too.
5. Stranger from Modern Times: This song kind of sounds like something Heart would make with its song message about an encounter with a stranger. The chorus and vocals are great.
4. Winds of Change from Winds of Change: This song is pretty interesting with its spaced out feel. A lot of what made Winds of Change so good was its outer space feel as represented on the album cover.
3. Laying It On the Line from Nuclear Furniture: This song might not get played ever on the radio anymore, but I think it should because it is just as good as the two singles that are still played. It is very energetic and has some great synthesizer work along with a terrific guitar solo.
2. Jane from Freedom At Point Zero: This song has some great vocals and is one of the two songs that is played on the radio and got me interested in this group.
1. Find Your Way Back from Modern Times: This song has a great guitar solo and I love the song message about refinding yourself after you’ve started down the wrong path, too. Jefferson Starship with all of its issues with changing its sound and disillusioning the fans and critics seems like the perfect music group to make a song such as this.