Various Artists

Go Ride the Music/West Pole

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This double-DVD set gathers a pair of vintage and previously unavailable television specials that aired in 1968 (West Pole) and 1970 (Go Ride the Music) respectively on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) predecessor National Educational Television (NET). While industrious enthusiasts have traded comparatively poor-quality versions of both for decades, Eagle Vision is the first to have licensed either for home video. West Pole initially aired on Friday, August 16, 1968 on KQED. It was hosted and narrated by the show's co-producer Ralph J. Gleason -- whose credentials in and around San Francisco were numerous. Among them were contributions to theSan Francisco Chronicle, co-founding the Monterey Jazz Festival, as well as founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine. Although Gleason indicates the title West Pole is a reference to the magnetic musical forces that seem to be pulling creativity and artistry toward the Bay Area, ironically West Pole was simultaneously the name of the managerial company run by Ron Polte -- who handled the affairs of several of the bands in the program, namely the all-female Ace of Cups, Quicksilver Messenger Service (QMS) and Sons of Champlin. In between Gleason's comments are words from audience members who were queuing up for an early July of 1968 Fillmore East gig by the Butterfield Blues Band, Ten Years After, and Fleetwood Mac. Plus, arty films featuring the Grateful Dead, Steve Miller Band and QMS. These are augmented by in-the-television studio performances by Ace of Cups and the Sons of Champlin. One particularly interesting inclusion is Steve Miller Band's 45 rpm B-side (to the single "Dear Mary") only rendering of the languid, bluesy "Sittin' in Circles." The Barry Goldberg-penned tune is perhaps best-known from the Electric Flag or Goldberg's own Barry Goldberg Reunion. Go Ride the Music aired on KQED December 6, 1970 with the title derived from a lyric in the Jefferson Airplane's "Wooden Ships" -- one of seven selections the band run through in the comfy confines of Wally Heider Studio in San Francisco. The Airplane's segment was filmed on April 2, 1970, while QMS -- who share the bill -- are seen in front of an assembled throng at Sonoma State University circa August of 1969. As little footage of QMS exists, the full-length clips of them playing the unreleased "Warm, Red Wine" and the What About Me (1970) era "Baby, Baby" and "Subway" are particularly welcome. As are the all-too-epigrammatic shots of David Crosby and the Airplane's Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar) as they fool around in front of the camera during the Wally Heider shoot. There are also a few equally brief words of wisdom from Jerry Garcia who at one point describes the interaction of the Airplane as "good dope." Another Go Ride the Music rarity is "Emergency" -- a cut that never made an official Jefferson Airplane album during the band's seven-year (1965 -- 1972) tenure. It was finally compiled -- from Go Ride the Music -- on the Jefferson Airplane Loves You (1992) box set.

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