Jefferson Starship

Dragon Fly

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Credited to "Grace Slick/Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship," Dragon Fly was the transitional album between the various shifting aggregations Slick and Kantner had been recording with as Jefferson Airplane dissolved in the early '70s and the new Jefferson Starship (which essentially was the Airplane with a new guitarist and bassist -- Craig Chaquico and Pete Sears). But where such preceding efforts as Sunfighter, Manhole, and Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun had suffered from indulgence and a lack of focus, Dragon Fly, from the first note of its rocking leadoff track, "Ride the Tiger" (a chart single), was a unified effort. Like much of the Airplane catalog and all of the Starship albums to follow, the album suffered from the band's communal approach to song selection (the eight tracks credited 12 writers, half of them bandmembers), leading to an unevenness in the material. But unlike the recent Kantner/Slick/etc. albums, it sounded like the work of a seasoned band. (It didn't hurt that the album was cut just after a tour, instead of before one.) Especially notable was Chaquico, who on such tracks as "All Fly Away" and "Hyperdrive" demonstrated that he was a distinctive lead guitarist able to define the Starship sound just as the very different Jorma Kaukonen had the Airplane. But what turned Dragon Fly into an artistic and commercial triumph (it was the most popular album any of these people had been involved with in five years) was the return, for one song, of former Airplane singer Marty Balin, since that one song was the epic power ballad "Caroline," which became a radio favorite and remains one of the best songs the Airplane/Starship ever did.

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