Basement Party 2

Basement Party 2

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tonight's Slabs - A Starship is Born/Proto-Metal

Tonight's blog will be a double-look at two recent records I picked up. First on deck is Paul Kantner & Jefferson Starship "Blows Against the Empire."

I had heard about this one over the years and finally got a chance to listen to it this past Saturday after picking it up on Friday. It was released in 1970 during a time when Jefferson Airplane was starting to splinter as a band. Two of their members had formed a side project called Hot Tuna, and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner decided to record a solo album with his old lady Grace Slick.

The album was based on a sci-fi idea he had conceived about the counterculture leaving the Earth in the not-too-distant future in a starship to start civilization anew, away from a rapidly deteriorating planet. Paul received help recording not only from his girlfriend Grace but also an ad-hoc conglomeration of musicians dubbed the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra (consisting of members of the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Crosby Stills & Nash).

Paul and Grace with collaborator Jerry Garcia and legendary Bay Area impresario Bill Graham.

The album is far out in terms of concept and music, but is very interesting and better than I expected. At times it was folky, and at times it was cosmic. It  was also nominated for a Hugo Award, an honor typically reserved for sci-fi novels. As for the name Jefferson Starship? It would be dusted off four years later after the Airplane finally crashed, with a line-up consisting of members of that old band plus some new folks. Consider this the early beginning of what would become phase 2 of the Airplane's ultimate metamorphosis into the "Starship." You know, the ones who built this city.


Dig it, man.


Next up on the platter we have the self-titled debut of psychedelic heavy rock/metal pioneers, Vanilla Fudge.

 Released smack in the middle of the summer of love, 1967 (a year which saw the first releases of SO many influential bands...Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, the Velvet Underground, the Doors, etc.), the Fudge's main trip was covering other artist's songs in a slowed down, sludgy, heavy form. And they were good at what they did. Their most well-known song was from this album, a cover of the Supremes "You Keep Me Hanging On." The track is dirge-style with heavy guitars and organ, and I'm getting a contact high just THINKING of it.

As cool as this band sounded on this record, they definitely were NOT cool looking.

The faces of early metal...yikes!

Drummer Carmine Appice also happens to be the older brother of Black Sabbath/Dio drummer Vinny.

A new feature covering comics I'm currently reading called "Off the (Spinner) Rack"


  1. Dude you got a Vanilla Fudge album? NICE!

    That almost eclipses my vinyl find for today: George Harrison - All Things Must Pass

    Oh yeah.

  2. Man, I can't believe you got "All Things Must Pass." I picked up a copy too, a couple of days ago. Great minds think alike! Mine was in awesome shape and contained the poster for only $9.99!

    Did you ever hear about the Vanilla Fudge reunion album from 2002? It had the covering current artists of that time, like the Backstreet Boys. It's called "Vanilla Fudge - The Return." I want it!

  3. Fucker! I paid $30 for mine and no poster!! Ah well, I can't win 'em all. I've gotten a lot of good deals in was bound to happen sometime.

    Is yours the black n' white cover, or the color one?

  4. I took John to a couple record stores today, and one of them had a copy in shitty condition for $20. You just gotta know the right spots I guess.