Picks and Pans Review: Jefferson Airplane
Meanwhile, back at the runway, this risible reunion prompts one burning question: Why? It also answers the question posed in that Zen riddle that was popular back when the Airplane were kids: What is the sound of one hand clapping? Friends, this fatuous exercise is it.
It's a toss-up which voice is more abrasive, Jorma Kaukonen's flat croaking or Slick's tinfoil battle-ax. But that's not all. You also get rantings by Paul Kantner and the foolhardy passion of Marty Balin.
Since the rebuilt Airplane members (three of whom bailed out of Starship at one time or another) are joined by a slew of studio musicians, the instrumentation can't be faulted. The horror is the song-writing: stuffy, desperately eclectic and devoid of charm. The only faint diversion offered by this record lies in trying to decide who wrote the drippiest lyrics. Kantner's song about Nicaragua, "The Wheel," will get votes: "And the Wind from the Mountain blew across our love affair/ And awakened the heart to the Roll of the Wheel/ And the Night grew still and no wind was blowin'/ I knew this was the hour...LIBERATION!" You'd have to consider Slick's "Panda": "Oh Panda Bear—you can't seem to win/ No matter how hard you try/ Oh Panda Bear—my gentle friend/ I don't want to say goodbye." We'd be remiss if we didn't also nominate Balin's "Summer of Love": "The Summer of Love was something special/ We were so young and so free/ The Summer of Love that I was part of/ We had so many dreams." Right, Marty, but back when you guys were the acid-burned toast of Haight-Ashbury, no one ever dreamed that two decades later you might still be trying to beat what has become a very dead horse. (Epic)