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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the many decades, the ever-changing consortium of musicians known as Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship, etc. has been making much music that pleases me. Leaving aside the Jefferson Starship of Blows Against the Empire, the JS that most resonates with me falls into two periods, Early (pre-Freedom at Point Zero,) and Later, with Grace Slick being kicked out for alcoholism, then reinstated, and sharing vocals with Mickey Thomas. I like it all, selectively. But one of the great tragedies of my life is the lack of quality concert video of either JA or JS over the years. So here I must offer a hybrid of live performance and artsy hokum, but it is of one of my all-time favorites, St. Charles. Like "Kashmir" or "Cortez the Killer", or "The Year of the Cat", St. Charles offers a window into another world entirely, one of pure imagination tinged by dreams of history. I especially like the sinuous, ophidian guitar work of Craig Chaquico--you know I saw and heard it in a dream......

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
They've done some good stuff over the years (and Grace has real pipes), but I'll never forgive them for We Built This City.
Actually, truth be told, I never cared for anything that Starship did; my enthusiasm ends with Nuclear Furniture. Regarding Grace's voice, she is quoted as saying how poorly she thinks she compares with Linda Ronstadt, to which I reply Poppycock and Nonsense. While not detracting from Ronstadt (not mentioning her thin upper register), I believe Grace had the greater instrument.

For elgars ghost, I am just as happy in AOR territory with the JS as I am in more rugged terrain; they offered material as good as anything that Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, or Journey were doing--it's all a matter of taste, to be sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You stated in the opening that you are leaving aside Blows Against The Empire. Frankly, I think that this, along with, Baron Von Tollboth made pretty darn good music. The only problem with listening to it now is that one realizes that Paul Kantner was REALLY high when he wrote it. I find the music and musicianship to be wonderful. But the lyrics show that he had some of the best drugs of his era. I would love it if some lyricist could write some great words and then go back in time to get Gracie and Paul to sing the new lyrics.

OH well, I guess I need to wait 17 years until they build the first time machine.
I left aside Blows only because it was not, strictly speaking, an effort by the quintessential Jefferson Starship. That said, I love Blows Against the Empire, and somewhere noted that Kate Bush's Aerial in places bears a strong similarity. You, I, and Kate should all join the others up on A-Deck and look at the stars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Same here. Grace Slick had a really good voice. Paul Kantner could play pretty well but compared to Hendrix???
I missed this post first time around. Not sure anyone ever compared Paul with Jimi on guitar. But a bit more Jefferson Starship live is turning up on YouTube and so here is one of my many JS faves, Ride the Tiger, sung by a much later assemblage of JS personnel--we have Mickey Thomas and Grace both at the mikes. They made an interesting vocal team on such JS pop efforts as Sorry Me, Sorry You and Stranger.....

 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Leaving aside any comparisons with Hendrix, I found the various Jeffersons well served by their lead guitarists--Jorma Kaukonen for the Airplane, with his peculiar and unmistakable plangency as in Wooden Ships; and Craig Chaquico's sinuous but more "mainstream" guitar perfectly suited to the Jefferson Starship's more poppish material, as in St. Charles. A fan of both.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
^^^^Wikipedia's entry on this song is interesting in that there are cues enough for several cities to reference themselves as the subject of the song--Washington, San Francisco (obvious choice), Cleveland, New York. Bernie Taupin and Peter Wolf, among others, had a hand in creating the song. I never was a Starship fan, but the fact that many critics and mags bashed it, while it won a Grammy and rose high in the charts of many countries, raised the song higher in my estimation :lol:.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
In the above thread, I noted that I did not particularly care for the music of Starship, ending my involvement with the whole Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship history at the Great Schism when Kantner and Grace/Thomas went their separate ways. I have since reconsidered my views on the basis of this dynamite concert YouTube video of a 2007 Las Vegas performance of Mickey Thomas' Starship--a recreation of Starship with all-new musicians. Mickey Thomas in 2007 was the only survivng member of the Starship born with the album Freedom at Point Zero. But here he does a great job--as essentially a tribute band--of J. Airplane, J. Starship, and Starship classics, from Somebody to Love to the last of Greatest Hits. Still a great voice. His Grace Slick is Stephanie Calvert, very good, and the entire band clearly knows what they are doing. Craig Chaquico, J. Starship and Starship's guitarist, also is performing material from both groups in smaller venues. I have a very broad bandwidth in popular music and find this sort of Big Sound music much to my liking. These are not the Golden Years of the Airplane and early J. Starship, and we can wring our hands at the lost years and songs. But meanwhile life goes on and, if you are like me, you take your pleasures where and when you can.

 

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
Shaughnessy, I am a little surprised and pleasantly so that you both watched the concert video and liked it. I say that because I chose years ago to never deplore another's musical enthusiasms, usually to be disappointed when others spend time and energy telling everybody why they hate something and why. Never could figure out that mindset--suppressed rage?, lack of empathy? Self-aggrandizement? As I have posted before, my bandwidth for what pleases me in music is quite wide. It s refreshing to find that yours is also. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Continuing with the Starship theme, here is longtime guitarist Craig Chaquico in 2015 still pursuing the ship as it leaves the solar system. Chaquico has as his Grace Slick a blond bombshell named Shae Celine who is a remarkable lookalike for the young Marilyn Monroe of Bus Stop. Celine, like Stephanie Calvert, sings up a storm but gives off a whole different vibe. Here is a medley of tunes that we heard/saw with Thomas and Calvert. Compare and contrast.....

 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I wanted to be as fair to Shae Celine as I possibly could and so I looked her up on YouTube and came across this series of videos that she has made with a series of different backing groups -
You may find it interesting to see and hear her in a variety of musical settings.


She's made strides in the 6 or 7 years since she appeared with Craig Chaquico but I think that there are significant differences between her performance and that of Stephanie Calvert.

Calvert found her own unique "voice" early and then reinforced it with professional training to perfect her technique but at the core of her talent lies that unique "voice" - One which allows her to effortlessly express a much wider range of emotions.

She approached her role with Starship much as an actress would - She was faced with having to make a decision about how to assume one of popular music's most iconic roles - that of Grace Slick - She was faced with a choice, to either do a straightforward "impression" which would please most everyone or to be more - to be both an actress and a musician - to do an "interpretation" of that role - One that would do honor and be respectful of a significant legacy and yet would allow her to expand upon that role and thus change "craft" into "art".

Listen to her rip right through "Somebody To Love" - She's just absolutely fearless - almost fierce - in her intensity. Her phrasing, her delivery, her new variations on a well-known time-honored theme are a wonder to behold.

I watched 7 or 8 of Shae Celine's videos ranging from straightforward lead singer with backing band to tier 3 musical theater productions to duets. She's better now than she was then - considerably so - but I'm not entirely convinced that she has found her own unique "voice" or if she ever will. She certainly has the necessary requirements to take on that mid-level lead vocalist role - She has all the tools - I just don't think that she has a tool-box. She does have a powerhouse voice - Stays in tune - and has a fine sense of how to express her physicality onstage. I just don't think that she's really using her own voice - You can clearly hear her influences when you watch the soul tune covers - Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan in particular - but I can't really hear anything that distinguishes her from any number of other singers. She's doing "impressions" rather than "interpretations".

I don't know if either one of them can actually "act" in the literal sense of being able to be a working actor on or off- Broadway - Calvert definitely has the kind of voice that can hit the back rows - She could effortlessly sing "Let It Go" from "Frozen" for example without keeling over and gasping for air but I can say, with confidence, that Shae Celine just does not have have that kind of big Broadway voice - and wouldn't even be considered for a role as an understudy. When I listened to Celine doing a couple of tunes from "Beehive" a tier 3 level regional stage production held at the "Oregon Cabaret" you can see that once she stops singing she's completely lost never more so than during the interview.

And so.... The final verdict - the victory goes to Stephanie Calvert with Shae Celine receiving an honorable mention.
I agree 100% with your assessment of the two singers. Calvert is definitely the stronger of the two.

I will be interested in your take on any of the other Strange Magic posts I made these long years ago that interest you. Unhappily many of the video clips I linked to are long void--my intent was, as much as possible, to have the artists performing live on stage or live in a studio even if sometimes their recorded studio versions were clearer. I started to substitute newer videos where I could, live or studio in this latest round of the series, and may keep trying.
 
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