Jefferson Starship

Greatest Video Hits [DVD]

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The difference between a "greatest-hits" CD and a "greatest-video hits" DVD can be more than the presence of visual material on the latter, as this one demonstrates. There is also the question of which hits ever had videos made for them. Jefferson Starship existed as a front-line act for about a decade, from 1974 to 1984, after which the departure of founding member Paul Kantner led to a shortening of the name to Starship. (Kantner has led a later version of Jefferson Starship as an oldies act.) The age of music video commenced after the halfway point in that period, and it appears to have been only in about 1981 (the year that MTV came into existence) that Jefferson Starship began making music videos to promote its singles. By then, co-lead singer Marty Balin had gone, as had co-lead singer Grace Slick, though Slick had returned by the time of the first video here, appropriately called "Find Your Way Back." That is a good thing, since the photogenic Slick, a former model, although given far less screen time than Balin's replacement, Mickey Thomas, proves the only member of the band with any real sense of visual presence; she often looks directly into the camera, and she strikes poses unashamedly. The videos tend to be performance clips, gradually acquiring greater production values and actors as the personnel of the group changes. "No Way Out" is a full-fledged, if muddled, concept video in which all the bandmembers play parts in a story line that finds Thomas going into a spooky house and sitting down for a confession with comedian Don Novello (aka Father Guido Sarducci). Pat Paulsen, another veteran of The Smothers Brothers Show, has a cameo in the politically oriented video for "Layin' It on the Line," which posits a presidential campaign by "Mick & Slick." (Promoter Bill Graham is also glimpsed.) Although this track was credited to Jefferson Starship, Kantner seems to have checked out by the time it was filmed. The final four videos are credited to Starship and are more elaborate than their predecessors, with Thomas acting in a scenario set on a remote farm with actress Rebecca De Mornay for "Sara" and no other bandmembers seen. Again, the availability of video equivalents limits the completeness of the collection, as "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," one of Starship's biggest hits, is missing because the music video for it featured footage from the film Mannequin, in which it was used. Still, anyone who watched and enjoyed these videos on MTV in the '80s will be happy to see them again.

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