One must give credit to guitarist Craig Chaquico and vocalist Mickey Thomas as they crafted an album of great '80s rock totally devoid of the original talents who launched this enterprise with Blows Against the Empire in 1970, Chaquico having joined Kantner and Slick circa 1971 around the time of the Sunfighter project. The title track actually has a Jefferson Airplane vibe. A different arrangement and Grace Slick's voice would make that song, "Love Among the Cannibals," a good candidate for J.A.'s Long John Silver album. "The Burn" is the opening track, written by Bernie Taupin and Martin Page, and it is one of the many highlights. But you can put shuffle on your CD player, for the consistency here is pretty amazing, the six-plus-minute Mickey Thomas co-write "We Dream in Color" one of his finest moments on record. The backing vocals are eerie when they have to be, the modulation is wonderful, and despite the plethora of producers on this set of recordings, from Tom Lord-Alge to Mike Shipley, this extraordinary number is produced by Starship. The purists will say that even 1987's No Protection was pushing the band's credibility when compared to the genuine crown of creation that was the Jefferson Airplane, but these albums stand on their own as projections of musicians who rolled with the punches of the business and personnel changes. Track two, "It's Not Enough," was the last hit for the group, going to number 12 on the charts. Co-written by Martin Page, it is good, although not the most memorable tune of the 17 that charted for all mutations of the group. The interesting Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship compilation chronicles the entire legacy, but this album deserves inspection on its own. "Healing Waters," "Blaze of Love," and "I'll Be There" are all fine tunes with hooks, solid production, and Mickey Thomas finally finding a groove with his voice that can be oh so grating at times. This is far more together than his 1977 solo outing, As Long As You Love Me, and the band has even moved back to a more '80s rock & roll than the neo-techno of some of their previous releases. It must be noted that Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Jack Casady, and Marty Balin re-formed the Jefferson Airplane and released a self-titled album on Epic this same year, 1989, a natural progression from the KBC project on Arista three years prior. That album fell as flat as the Mamas & the Papas' reunion disc People Like Us, no spirit, going through the motions. On the other hand, Starship seems to have something to prove here. You don't even have to look at the song credits to know vintage Craig Chaquico when you hear "I'll Be There," a song he co-wrote with Mickey Thomas and Steve Diamond, his only song credit here, but it has a more authentic Jefferson Starship sound from Dragonfly missing on the sterile but important hit "It's Not Enough." Who would have bet that the remnants of the group could outdo the originals competing with them the same year? "Trouble in Mind" has a hook that won't quit, and "I Didn't Mean to Stay All Night" is written by legendary producer Mutt Lang. He arranges and sings backup here, but becomes part of the band, allowing others to put the pieces together. An album that came out of left field and one that shouldn't be forgotten.
Love Among the Cannibals
Love Among the Cannibals Review
by Joe Viglione