Jefferson Airplane

Fly Jefferson Airplane

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This is a refreshingly straightforward, no-nonsense historical overview of Jefferson Airplane that, while not quite a documentary, sticks (unlike so many similar projects) to what the fans really want to see: complete archive clips of the band at its peak in 1966-1970 (as well as "Embryonic Journey" from their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in the 1990s), linked by interviews with bandmembers. While some of this has circulated on other official and unofficial video releases, the dozen performances are first-rate. These include some rarely seen items like a lip-synch of "It's No Secret" at the Fillmore Auditorium from August 1966 (with original woman singer Signe Anderson still in the lineup); a promo video-like collage of images to accompany "Martha," from a Perry Como television special; a New York City live rooftop blast through "House at Pooneil Corners," done for Jean-Luc Godard and D.A. Pennebaker's obscure film One P.M.; "Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil," done live at the Family Dog; and a promo film for "We Can Be Together." Strictly speaking, some good footage doesn't make the cut, like "Today" from Monterey Pop and their segment from the 1970 Dutch festival documentary Stamping Ground. But what's here is fairly plentiful and plenty good, including versions of other of their most famous songs, like "Somebody to Love," "White Rabbit," "Crown of Creation," "Lather," and "Volunteers." The interviews -- conducted shortly before this 2004 release -- include comments by all six of the musicians in the Airplane's most famous lineup (Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden, and Jorma Kaukonen), as well as brief snippets from Dryden's replacement, drummer Joey Covington. Those interviews aren't just window dressing intros -- they're fairly informative and entertaining, with comments on both crucial moments in the band's history and some of the specific clips, well-edited so that extraneous material is avoided (and if you find the alternation of music and talking heads distracting, the DVD gives you the option of just watching the performances). The bonus interviews include worthwhile segments on Bill Graham and their performances at the Woodstock and Altamont festivals, as well as brief chats with their light show operator Glenn McKay and engineer Maurice Ieraci. Liner notes by Jefferson Airplane biographer Jeff Tamarkin also provide useful context for the visuals.

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