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Jefferson Airplane - Takes Off CD (album) cover

TAKES OFF

Jefferson Airplane

 

Proto-Prog

3.17 | 64 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
3 stars As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 'Summer Of Love,' one of San Francisco's most spontaneous, yet enduring movements where up to 100,000 disillusioned youth descended upon the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood forever changing the city's politics, demographics, fashion statements and most of all musical scene, it's a good time to reflect on all those great bands of the past who have been put on the shelf in the ensuing decades as musical flavors have broadened and diversified but never truly forgotten, of course. Of all the contributor's to the counter-culturally fueled San Francisco Sound including Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Santana, it was really JEFFERSON AIRPLANE who launched the whole psychedelic scene with their huge hits 'White Rabbit' and 'Somebody To Love' off their 1967 classic 'Surrealistic Pillow.'

All that would come soon but not before Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden would join the band and form the band's classic lineup which would finish off the 60s, the band started out much more in the folk rock arena primarily inspired by The Byrds, The Beatles, Weavers and Kingston Trio. After a few years of unsuccessful endeavors, the band was founded by guitarist Marty Ballin and would soon hook up with Paul Kantnor and David Freiberg. Soon thereafter they would discover Signe Toly Anderson and invite her to sing in their new group. It wouldn't take long for the band to release their debut album JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF which in a commercial sense really did just that. The band was virtually unknown outside of the San Francisco Bay Area and RCA only pressed 15,000 copies but the band's reputation found them instant success in the area where over 10,000 copies were sold alone thus prompting the label to repress immediately and found the album going gold without any successful singles and instead setting sail via word of mouth alone.

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF is very much a product of its time. Although associated as one of the primary movers and shakers of the psychedelic scene, there is nothing on this debut release to prognosticate where they or the world would lead in only a year's time. This album is very much a folk rock album that encapsulates the jangle folk rock guitar sound of The Byrds, blues inspired riffs as heard on the opener 'Blues From An Airplane' and an attempt at a Mama's & Papa's male / female vocal interchange (but not nearly as harmonically successful). While the majority of the tracks are originals with shared writing credits from the Ballin / Kantner songwriting team, there are three covers as well. The excellent rendition of the Clay Warnick song 'Tobacco Road' first recorded by John D. Loudermilk in 1960, Dino Valente's 'Let's Get Together' and a rare lead vocal performance by Signe Anderson doing an energetic performance of the famous Memphis Minnie tune 'Chauffeur Blues' (originally released under the title 'Me And My Chauffeur Blues.')

Universally accepted as a true feel-good album of sorts, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF does deliver a consistent feel of no nonsense 60s folk rock, however despite every track being a pleasant listen, the AIRPLANE doesn't really have much of an identity at this point either. While all songs are perhaps nice sing-alongs, they don't really stand out from the crowd of imitators who would follow despite JEFFERSON AIRPLANE having created a very unique sound for the day with a slightly countrified take on bluesy folk rock. I feel the Byrds influences are too strong and Anderson isn't allowed to shine as a vocalist enough despite her vocals not having the power of Grace Slick whose contributions would eclipse anything heard on this album. Unfortunately in an artistic sense, this debut album took off in name only. JEFFERSON AIRPLANE would in reality sit idol in the runway until Grace Slick made it through the check-in lines and handed in her boarding pass. The soundtrack for the hippie scene would have to wait a little longer.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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