Jefferson Starship

Deep Space/Virgin Sky

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Deep Space/Virgin Sky is a 74-minute live album which was recorded at The House of Blues in Hollywood in the mid-'90s. Grace Slick makes a rare guest appearance, participating on "Wooden Ships" and singing her songs "Lawman" and "White Rabbit," as well as ex-brother-in-law Darby Slick's "Somebody to Love." On this version, though, it is Slick Aguilar from the KBC band who has pretty much received the mantle that Jorma Kaukonen and Craig Chaquico handed down, his harder rock sound falling somewhere in between the arena rock of Chaquico's Starship work (before he went jazz) and the San Franciscan sound that is Kaukonen. Also interesting on Deep Space is the song "Dark Ages," originally released by MCA recording artist World Entertainment War in 1991. Darby Gould was in that group and brought this exquisite song along with her. It's an amazing composition, one of the high points of the new material. And have you kept tabs on how many bandmembers utilize portions of Darby Slick's name? He never graduated from the Great Society to the Jefferson Airplane, but with "Slick" Aguilar and Darby Gould, the tradition continues...somewhat. There is some great stuff on Deep Space, from the Nona Hendryx tune "Women Who Fly" to a brilliant Rowan Brothers composition, "Gold," from their ill-fated Columbia release. "The Light" is also one of Paul Kantner's best post-Mickey Thomas Starship copyrights, the kind of thing that could rejuvenate Jefferson Starship if the co-leader could come up with one of these more than once every decade. The studio versions of some of these previously unreleased songs did see the light of day in 1999 on the Windows of Heaven album released on CMC, but that puts a spotlight on the sad nature of the record business -- RCA should be issuing the new albums from this veteran group every year. That the material is being scattered across the universe on a variety of labels, Intersound and CMC and others, is a slap in the face to a band who was and still is such a part of the RCA/BMG legacy. It also gives reason to praise Intersound and CMC for giving the world this important music. There are great moments as well as weak on this live set, though Kantner's "Shadowlands" and "I'm on Fire" work, and Marty Balin's "Miracles," as well as his version of Jesse Barish's "Count On Me," are always a treat. Balin's "Papa John is a touching tribute (the whole album is dedicated to Papa John and Gretchen Creach), but squeezing all the lyrics and liner notes onto four pages (an elaborate collage of photos in outer space illuminate the other four pages) makes for tough reading. Jefferson Starship through the '90s is a band playing for the fans, allowing taping of live performances, and always ready to throw a few surprises your way. Deep Space is an important document of a band constantly in flux. When Gracey goes off-key, it's all documented for posterity, no overdubs, the way the true fans love it. Her intro to "Lawman" shows why she brings star power to the table. Darby Gould (and Diana Mangano, who is not on this particular disc) have the chops they need to develop their personalities to truly fill Slick's shoes, and to allow this important act to survive in the 2000s.

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