Jefferson Starship: Earth (1978)

Starlog 4.0: UNITED EARTH. This is the last ride of Kaptain Kantner and the Two Heads (Marty Balin, Grace Slick) in the good ship Starship.  For all the acrimony that was likely under Earth’s surface, this may be the smoothest ride of the four Jefferson Starship albums. It contains two winning ballads from Balin (“Count On Me,” “Runaway”), a nice pair from Grace Slick (“Show Yourself,” “Take Your Time”) and a solid opening shot from Craig Chaquico (“Love Too Good”). Plus, everyone piles onboard the Starship for one last ride on the closing “All Nite Long,” which is a nice sendoff. Still, it’s mediocrity by democracy. Balin and Slick seem like they’re leasing space in the Starship at this stage, carving out their own corner of Earth with Kantner, Chaquico, Barbata, Freiberg and Sears as their backing band. Oddly, this disharmony of personalities was a preferred formula for success during the Seventies, as evidenced by Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and CSN&Y. It provided a richer mixture of sounds, since every ego had to find its outlet, with a little something for everyone. Rock, ballads and mystical sidetrips got rolled together, and while smoking the whole thing was strangely unsatisfying, these everyone-gets-a-turn albums were usually good for a few hits. Like their neighbors the Grateful Dead, the Starship albums had their share of missteps too; this time it’s the embarrassing “Skateboard,” in which Grace Slick philosophizes “If miles turned to inches, you know that man would roll all the way around the world tonight,” which doesn’t make any earthly sense at all. Then again, I don’t have a lot of skin in the Starship saga, and if the original starcaptain had grown long in tooth and dim in vision, the mutinous mutation of Earth is no concern of mine.

Original LP Version
A1. Love Too Good (Gabriel Robles/Craig Chaquico) 6:03
A2. Count On Me (Jesse Barish) 3:14
A3. Take Your Time (Grace Slick/Pete Sears) 4:08
A4. Crazy Feelin’ (Jesse Barish) 3:38
A5. Skateboard (Craig Chaquico/Grace Slick) 3:18
B1. Fire (Marty Balin/Trish Robbins/David Freiberg/Pete Sears) 4:44
B2. Show Yourself (Grace Slick) 4:36
B3. Runaway (N.Q. Dewey) 5:18
B4. All Nite Long (Paul Kantner/Marty Balin/Jesse Barish/Grace Slick/John Barbata/Pete Sears/Craig Chaquico/David Freiberg) 6:28

All songs arranged by Jefferson Starship.

The Players
Marty Balin (vocals), John Barbata (electric drums, drums, congas, percussion, vocals), Craig Chaquico (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals), David Freiberg (bass, organ, vocals), Paul Kantner (rhythm guitar, vocals), Pete Sears (electric piano, organ, Moog, synthesizers, piano, celeste, clavinet, bass) and Grace Slick (piano, vocals) with Gene Page (string and horn arrangements). Produced by Larry Cox and Jefferson Starship, engineered by Larry Cox and recorded by Steve Hall.

The Plastic
Originally released on elpee and 8-track on March 1978 in the US (Grunt, BXL1/BXS1-2515), UK and Germany (Grunt, FL-12515), Brazil (RCA, 1048079) and Japan (Grunt, RVP-6254); reached #5 on the US charts (RIAA certified platinum). Original elpee featured a lyrics innersleeve. Re-released on elpee in Japana (Grunt, RPL-2114) and in 1981 in the US (RCA, AYL1-4172). Re-released on digitally remastered CD on February 25, 1997 in the US and UK (RCA, 66878) and in 2008 in Japan (BMG, BVCM-35244). Production and art coordinated by Pat Ieraci (Maurice), illustrated by Nat Quick, dust sleeve and label illustrated by Don Davis, photography by Roger Ressmeyer and art direction by Tim Bryant/Gribbit and Jefferson Starship.

1 thought on “Jefferson Starship: Earth (1978)

  1. The weakest JS album, IMHO. “Earth” is far more cohesive than “Spitfire”, but what makes it cohesive is what also makes it weaker. The band sounds tired and uninspired. Balin and Slick split the album pretty much down the middle. Slick still cared more about songwriting than Balin did, but it’s still all boring 70’s soft rock. Only “Show Yourself” and “All Nite Long” contain a little bit of the old spark. The band chemistry was dissipating at this point, so something was going to give.

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