[Review] The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (1970)

[Kronomyth 7.0]
In the Gardens of Memory, in the Palace of Dreams.

In a more perfect world, they would put a statue of Jefferson Airplane near the Capitol Building (ideally, with their backs against one wall), yet, even doing that, you won’t find a better monument to the band’s achievement than The Worst of Jefferson Airplane. It might be the one American rock record from the 1960s that everyone should own. The selection is not only generous but also does a brilliant job of condensing a difficult oeuvre into a succinct, sensible package. “Today,” “Embryonic Journey” and “Lather” aren’t obvious choices, but they are informed choices, painting the picture of a band with very different personalities. Do you need to hear “Chushingara” to appreciate Jefferson Airplane? Maybe not, but you do need to hear it to appreciate “Lather,” and it’s that kind of thoughtfulness that makes The Worst such a wonder. In a world where quick cash-grabs were quickly becoming the norm, this record is a throwback to a nobler age. It also does an excellent job of judiciously displaying the contributions of Marty Balin and Grace Slick, nowhere more eloquently stated than in the juxtaposition of “Somebody To Love” and “Today.” In the 21st century, a pair of extra tracks were added (“Greasy Heart,” “Watch Her Ride”) to cover the essential singles, but The Worst isn’t a better album for it. In either version, The Worst of Jefferson Airplane is the best way to experience the band for the first time. After that, enjoy the ride through the rest of their catalog.

Original LP Version
A1. It’s No Secret (2:37)
A2. Blues From An Airplane (2:10)
A3. Somebody To Love (2:54)
A4. Today (2:57)
A5. White Rabbit (2:27)
A6. Embryonic Journey (1:51)
A7. Martha (3:21)
A8. The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil (4:30)
B1. Crown of Creation (2:53)
B2. Chushingara (1:17)
B3. Lather (2:55)
B4. Plastic Fantastic Lover (live) (3:39)
B5. Good Shepherd (4:22)
B6. We Can Be Together (5:50)
B7. Volunteers (2:03)

CD reissue bonus tracks*
8b. Watch Her Ride
8c. Greasy Heart

* Bonus songs appear between sides A/B on the expanded compact disc.

The Players
Album put together by Jefferson Airplane, Bill Thompson & Pat Ieraci (Maurice).

The Pictures
Album design by Alton Kelley & Wes Wilson.

The Plastic
Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track (two versions) in November 1970 in the US (RCA, LSP-4459/PK/PQ8/P8S-1653), the UK (RCA, SF-8164) and Japan (RCA, SRA-5198) with gatefold cover and innersleeve; reached #12 on the US charts (RIAA-certified platinum record).

  1. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in the US (RCA, AYL1/AYK1-3661) as part of RCA’s Best Buy series.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in September 1986 in the UK (Fame, FA 3167) with cover variation.
  3. Re-issued on compact disc on July 21, 1989 in Japan (BMG/RCA, B20D-41028).
  4. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1990 in the US (BMG, 4459-2-R).
  5. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 2006 in the US (RCA Legacy, 75893-2) with 2 bonus tracks.
  6. Re-released on 180g gold vinyl elpee in 2001 in the US (Friday Music, FRM4459U).

2 thoughts on “[Review] The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (1970)

  1. Why is the word ” Worst ” on the 1970 U. S. released album The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane in red and some are not ?

  2. Being a bit too young for the Airplane when they were in the heyday [I was high school during the rise of Jefferson Starship], this was my first real exposure, during college. Being VERY naïve and sheltered at the time, I totally fell for it all — their spacy, abstract weirdness; Grace’s keening voice; Paul’s political rantings; the powerhouse band attack on this version of “Plastic Fantastic Lover”; even the perverse title (of course, a “Best of..” would eventually be released). The selection is just about perfect. Oddly enough, they missed their most recent single., “Mexico”/”Have You Seen the Saucers?”, which, if this had come out 20 years later, would have been added to suck in the collectors. It’s not needed. I would take an even deeper dive a year later with “Flight Log”, and “2400 Fulton Street” covers more ground (with most of these songs and more), but this, I agree, is enough for either a starter of finisher with the Airplane.

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