More Musical Chairs, Hooray!
This is the last ride of the Jefferson Starship, which was no longer a band but a banner under which separate and sometimes warring factions rode: Pete and Jeanette Sears, Craig Chaquico and Mickey Thomas, Paul Kantner (now teamed with The Weavers’ Ronnie Gilbert), Grace Slick… even ex-Zappa sideman Peter Wolf gets invited along for the ride. Stylistically, the album doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a mix of modern Top 40 music, arena rock, socially conscious songs about religious conflict and nuclear war, and the continuing story of Lightning Rose (last encountered at Point Zero). Like I’ve said, I never had much skin in the Starship saga, so the sinking of one more commercial juggernaut means nothing to me. Despite my apathy, the album continued the band’s unbroken chain of gold and platinum albums and managed to generate another Top 40 hit with Peter and Ina Wolf’s “No Way Out.” I have no idea who buys these albums and singles, but we should be tracking their migration and mating patterns with microchips. Any album that thanks “everyone at MTV” without a trace of sarcasm is not to be trusted. Make no mistake: Jefferson Starship was a commercial venture from the very beginning. Yet Kantner and Slick always had a touch of space madness to them that kept the music interesting. You’ll find a little of that madness on “Connection,” “Rose Goes To Yale,” “Champion” and “Showdown,” but not enough to justify sitting through so much product. And, as long as I’m picking on the album, this has to be one of the worst covers I’ve seen since Kansas’ Vinyl Confessions (and that’s being chairable).
Original LP Version
A1. Layin’ It On The Line (Craig Chaquico/Mickey Thomas) 4:09
A2. No Way Out (Peter Wolf/Ina Wolf) 4:22
A3. Sorry Me, Sorry You (Pete Sears/Jeannette Sears) 4:07
A4. Live And Let Live (Pete Sears/Jeannette Sears) 3:50
A5. Connection (Paul Kantner/Mickey Thomas) 4:27
B1. Rose Goes To Yale (Paul Kantner/Ronnie Gilbert) 2:56
B2. Magician (Peter Wolf/Grace Slick) 3:23
B3. Assassin (Pete Sears/Jeannette Sears) 3:52
B4. Shining In The Moonlight (Craig Chaquico/Mickey Thomas) 3:38
B5. Showdown (Grace Slick) 3:22
B6. Champion (Paul Kantner/Ronnie Gilbert) 4:40
Arranged by Peter Wolf, Ron Nevison and Jefferson Starship
Donny Baldwin (drums, percussion, vocals), Craig Chaquico (lead guitars, rhythm guitars), David Freiberg (keyboards, vocals), Paul Kantner (rhythm-electric-acoustic guitars, banjo, vocals), Pete Sears (bass, keyboards), Grace Slick (vocals) and Mickey Thomas (vocals) with Brian Macleod (Simmons electronic drums on track 7) and Peter Wolf (synthesizers, keyboards, Linn drum programming). Donny Baldwin, who had played with Mickey Thomas in Elvin Bishop’s band, had actually been a member of Starship for two years now, having replaced Aynsley Dunbar behind the kit for the Winds of Change tour. And the Peter Wolf credited here is the former Frank Zappa sideman, not the guy from the J. Geils Band. He and his wife, singer Ina Wolf, had recorded together in Germany as Wolf & Wolf. Freedom At Point Zero’s Ron Nevison returned as producer and engineer, with Pat Ieraci (Maurice) still onboard as production coordinator.
Album cover design by Rod Dyer and Clive Piercy of Dyer/Kahn, Inc.
Originally released on elpee and cassette in June 1984 in the US and Australia (Grunt, BXL1/BXK1-4921), UK and Germany (Grunt/RCA, FL-84921), Brazil (RCA, 1044192) and Japan (Grunt, RPL-8248); reached #28 on the US charts (RIAA certified gold record). Regional elpee versions featured a lyrics innersleeve. Also released on compact disc in 1984 in Japan (RCA Victor, PCD1-4921).
- Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2008 in Japan (BMG, BVCM-35248).