Grace Slick - vocals, organ; Marty Balin - vocals, percussion; Paul Kantner - vocals, guitar; Jorma Kaukonen - lead guitar; Jack Casady - bass; Spencer Dryden - drums
This is the tail end of the middle night (Saturday) during a three-day run featuring Jefferson Airplane opening and closing shows, with sets by blues legends John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed in between.
Immediately apparent here is that the Jefferson Airplane had progressed remarkably over the course of just a few months. Their sound was evolving and becoming more distinctive. They sound much less like the folk-pop oriented band of 1966 and are becoming more aggressive.
Grace Slick was firmly on board by this point. Her presence was unquestionably a strong element in the change in sound, but it was the core musicians, Kantner, Kaukonen, Casady, and Dryden, that were strengthening the band's sound. Kantner was becoming a more aggressive rhythm guitar player, and in the process was freeing up Kaukonen, allowing him to really cut loose and develop. However, a significant amount of credit goes to the rhythm section of Casady and Dryden. They were truly developing at an astonishing rate, becoming the most unique and creative backbone of any of the San Francisco bands.
This fragment contains only one song from their albums, "It's No Secret," and while it is a strong, tight performance, it is the other two more improvisational numbers that make this recording important.
The first piece, an entirely improvisational jam, shows the band venturing into deeply psychedelic, experimental territory. It's a captivating performance, showing just how far the core musicians had come in the last few months and a signpost of what lay in store.
The set-closing "In The Midnight Hour" is also quite the rousing performance, with Marty Balin belting out lead vocals. Few recordings of the Airplane performing this classic number exist and this is one of the best.
These March 1967 sets capture the band at perhaps their happiest time as a unit, with everyone contributing. Over the course of the next few months, the group would become international stars and their lives would change forever, becoming infinitely more complicated.
Written by Alan Bershaw