I think for the majority of people, Grace Slick is the first and only person that comes to mind when they think of the voice of Jefferson Airplaine. My guess is this is because of the longevity of “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit” on classic rock radio. It’s unfortunate, because her male counterpart Marty Balin (who started the band, incidentally) has his own fair share of great songs. Despite what thebandwouldbecome, the original incarnation had moments of real rawness and ferocity.
This is my favorite song of theirs, and this video is an absolutely blistering version of it. At first I thought that maybe the tape was sped up a bit, but comparing it to some other versions on YouTube, it seems like they are just really keyed up here. I’ll leave you to make your own conclusions as to why.
BONUS: Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy some of the band’s later hits. I think their many stylistic shifts from the ’60s until the ’80s are pretty bizarre, but I can’t fault them for doing what they had to do to stay viable as a band. I tend to think of each phase as almost a completely different band.
Here’s what’s probably the most bizarre moment in their history: an appearance in the abysmal 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. If you’re not familiar, go here first, then watch this video as the band is introduced by Art Carney (?!). Listen as Marty Balin struggles to hit some arena rock high notes while singing about vanishing “in a star-shaped object”. Shakespeare wept.