Various Artists

San Francisco Sound: Then & Now, Vol. 1

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There are some good cuts, and some good artists on this patchwork compilation of music (most from San Francisco) from 1965-1993. The problem is that it was wretchedly assembled and sequenced, and the good cuts are far better heard in the context of their original releases. Producer Matthew Katz managed several '60s San Francisco bands for varying periods of time, including the Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and It's a Beautiful Day, all of whom are on this disc. There is but one rarity here, however, that would entice a die-hard psychedelic rock fan to pick this up: a 1965 live version of "Other Side of This Life," performed scrappily and in an unbecoming haste with the Signe Anderson-Skip Spence lineup. The good cuts by Moby Grape and It's a Beautiful Day are already available on their respective debut albums. Beyond that, the CD's populated by vastly inferior remakes of "It's No Secret" (by Marty Balin in 1993, not the Airplane, as the sleeve's track listing implies); a couple of songs by Tim Hardin from his final years when he was in serious artistic decline; generic, trudging acid rock from obscure SF psychedelic bands Tripsichord and Indian Puddin & Pipe; crummy '80s tracks by a re-formed Moby Grape, It's a Beautiful Day, and Moby Grape bassist Bob Mosley, and a ghastly 1975 performance by Little Eva (could this possibly be the same Little Eva who did "Locomotion"?). The liner notes are unhelpfully vague about whether some of the tracks are vintage originals or re-recordings, and the whole mess is preceded by a ringing bell and airplane noise, after which a (New York-accented!) voice intones, "And now, Jefferson Airplane!" Unless you really need that one rare vintage Airplane item, this is a must to avoid.

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