When RCA set out to celebrate their 100 years of music by releasing collection albums, it was only fitting that Jefferson Airplane be among the bands honored by the label. After forming in San Francisco in 1965, they took the music world by storm, experimenting with new sounds and producing several well-known hits. The beauty of this collection is that it allows the listener to see the progression of the band, from their first hit, "It's No Secret" (off their debut album of 1965), onward, as they continued to produce hits. While the quality of their music remained constant into the late '60s, their sound changed moods, which is something that the listener feels during a playing of the album. The intensity jumps up and down, the use of instruments varies, and the vocals fluctuate. Due to this mixture, this album is one of the best ways to enjoy the band during one sitting. The album is highlighted by one of the band's most well-known hits, "Somebody to Love." However, it's placed midway through, giving a nice buildup; the album also includes perhaps Grace Slick's most powerful song, "Greasy Heart." This track best exhibits her tremendous vocal ability, which is both intense and soft as the track progresses. Switching from vocals to instruments, "The Last Wall of the Castle," a song in which Slick is absent, contains tremendous guitar compilations matched against group vocals. In particular, halfway through the track listeners are treated with a riveting electric guitar solo by Jorma Kaukonen that best exhibits the all-around talent of the band. The only track that is missing from the collection is "White Rabbit," a Slick song that has been remembered since it debuted on Surrealistic Pillow in 1967. While this example of Slick's stunning vocals is left out, "Eat Starch Mom" isn't. She is at her best as she belts out a socially charged tune in which she, as Jeff Tamarkin writes in the liner notes, "takes digs at back-to-the-land hippie purists." In fact, what makes this album even more worthwhile is the brief insert by Tamarkin, which chronicles the beginnings of the band and speaks of each of the songs and their context in the history of Jefferson Airplane.
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AllMusic Review by Shawn Nicholls