Jefferson Starship: Freedom At Point Zero (1979)

Starlog 6.0: WOW, MAN’S LIBERATION. Kaptain Kantner returns to the helm of the Starship; Marty Balin, Grace Slick and John Barbata bailed. Instead of spelling the end of the Starship, Freedom At Point Zero turned out to be their best album, at least from a prog/rock fan’s perspective. Mickey Thomas replaced the two-headed beast of legend, while The Aynsley Dunbar inhabited the traps. The singing change isn’t as troubling as you’d think, since Mickey Thomas sounds like a woman half the time anyway; Dunbar is an upgrade wherever he goes. And the Starship finally found a full-time job for David Freiberg (bass) and Pete Sears (keyboards), which allows Sears to settle into the synth role and deliver some of his best work to date. Any discussion of Freedom At Point Zero begins with “Jane,” its disco bridge notwithstanding the best rock song they’ve written since “Ride The Tiger.” Kantner’s “Girl With The Hungry Eyes” was an unlikely hit, Craig Chaquico’s “Rock Music” should have been one too. But for prog fans, it’s “Awakening” that’s likely to open eyes. I usually take pains to point out that Jefferson Starship is not a prog band, but this track would have felt right at home coming from Kansas. The rest of the record is solid, from the BOC soundalike “Just The Same” to the small amount of celestial magic found in “Things To Come.” Maybe it’s the extra testosterone, but Freedom rocks harder than any Starship album, period. Unfortunately, the band returned to its orbit around the ego of Grace Slick soon after, and what seemed like freedom turned out to be only a boys’ night out.

Original LP Version
A1. Jane (David Freiberg/Jim McPherson/Paul Kantner/Craig Chaquico) 4:00
A2. Lightning Rose (Paul Kantner) 4:36
A3. Things To Come (Paul Kantner/China Wing Kantner) 4:49
A4. Awakening (Jeanette Sears/Pete Sears) 7:59
B1. Girl With The Hungry Eyes (Paul Kantner) 3:28
B2. Just The Same (Eric Van Soest/Craig Chaquico/Jeanette Sears) 5:17
B3. Rock Music (Craig Chaquico/Jeanette Sears) 3:35
B4. Fading Lady Light (Jeanette Sears/Pete Sears/Mark Unobsky) 3:39
B5. Freedom At Point Zero (Paul Kantner) 4:25

The Players
Craig Chaquico (lead/rhythm guitar), Aynsley Dunbar (drums, percussion), David Freiberg (bass, keyboards, vocals), Paul Kantner (rhythm guitar, vocals, keyboards), Pete Sears (bass, keyboards, vocals, organ, electric rhythm guitar) and Mickey Thomas (vocals) with Steven Schuster (horns) and Tower of Power horn section (horns on track 1). Jeanette Sears (wife of Pete Sears) also began writing lyrics for the band on this album. Produced by Ron Nevison, engineered by Ron Nevison and Michael Clink.

The Plastic
Originally released on elpee and 8-track on November 1979 in the US and Canada (Grunt, BZL1-3452), the UK (Grunt, FL1-3452), Germany (RCA, NL-89912) and Japan (Grunt, RVP-6430); reached #10 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold on March 10, 1980), #22 on the UK charts. Original elpees featured gatefold cover, lyrics innersleeve and insert. Released on elpee in 1980 in the UK (Grunt FL1-3452). Re-released on elpee and cassette in the US (RCA, AYL1-5161). Re-released on CD in the US (RCA, 66877). Album calligraphy by Robin Van Soest.

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