Jefferson Starship

The Jefferson Starship saga continues. This band is a fascinating 30-year case study of shifting linups, name changes, breakups and reunions. Ever since it began life as the Jefferson Airplane in the mid-60s, it has been a veritable Balkans of constantly transforming warring factions. Members have fallen in love, had children, and split up; engaged in fisticuffs with each other and Bill Graham; and left the band, publicly declaring their hatred for the other members, only to return a few months or years later. The Airplane became the very prototype for the rock band whose peace-and-love veneer masks a reality of money-driven, cocaine-fueled paranoia and depravity. Incarnations of the band have traversed the spectrum from the original Airplane, one of the hippest, most popular and critically acclaimed and, yes, most talented bands of its day, to the universally reviled and mocked Starship, which brought into being "We Built This City," one of the single most heinous pieces of slick pseudo-rock ever committed to tape.

When the Starship finally collapsed under the weight of its own mediocrity, it appeared that the story was over at last. But new Jeffersons just keep on coming. An Airplane reunion tour and album about five years back dissipated in the usual haze of apathy and bickering. But that didn't stop Paul Kantner, who then organized a new version of the Jefferson Starship, which through some kind of eerie magnetic power has sucked several of the original members back into it. A new live album called "Deep Space/Virgin Sky" even includes Grace Slick, who had seemingly retired from rock and roll to a quiet life in Marin County, where she passed the time by sitting out on her porch drinking Southern Comfort and taking potshots at lawmen with a 12-gauge.

The mitigating factor here is that no one seems to care. Everyone who can name a song from that Airplane reunion album, raise your hand. (Not bloody likely.) And the new live thing won't be polluting the airwaves much either. It's being released by the tiny label Intersound, the same label that put out the new Kansas album, and will probably sink into the lake of failure with nary a splash.

On to Three Dog Night et al.

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