Marty Balin

Balince: A Collection

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Marty Balin, issued by JB Records (the letters probably standing for Joe Buchwald, Balin's father) is a self-released reissue of the compilation album Balince: A Collection, which was released by Mirror Music in 1990. If Balin's recording career is a little hard to track, it's because he has worked in a variety of different configurations on a variety of different record labels. He made a couple of obscure singles for Challenge Records in 1962, then recorded as a member of Jefferson Airplane on RCA Victor Records from 1966 to 1969. He remained on RCA with his short-lived band Bodacious D.F. in 1973, then joined Jefferson Starship, recording on the RCA-distributed custom label Grunt Records from 1974 to 1978. In 1981, he re-emerged as a solo artist on EMI America Records, with which he stayed through 1983. He was the "B" in the K.B.C. Band on Arista Records for its self-titled sole release in 1986. The other leaders were Paul Kantner and Jack Casady, other alumni of Jefferson Airplane, who also participated along with Balin, Grace Slick, and Jorma Kaukonen in the one-off Jefferson Airplane reunion that produced a self-titled album on Epic Records in 1989. Sifting through all this to come up with a single-disc compilation of Balin's recorded highlights must have been a considerable chore. The result is not the one hour of music Balin fans probably would have chosen. Jefferson Airplane is represented only by "Today" -- no "It's No Secret" or "Plastic Fantastic Lover" or "Volunteers" -- and Jefferson Starship only by the biggest hit Balin ever wrote and sang, "Miracles" -- no "With Your Love" or "Runaway," among other follow-up hits. Then come all four of his EMI America singles, including the Top 20 "Hearts." "There's No Shoulder" is a rare track culled from an EP released only in Japan in 1983. The K.B.C. Band is represented by "Hold Me" and "Sayonara." That accounts for nine tracks. The other five are from what is described as "Marty's personal library." Although these are undated, they are consistent in style with the music Balin made as a solo artist in the early '80s, melodic pop/rock compositions by writers other than the singer. Thus, the album doesn't really represent a balanced look at his career; it is weighted heavily toward his '80s work. That may have been necessary for business reasons, even if it makes this a less than ideal compilation. Given the circumstances, however, it is a case of half a loaf being better than none.

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