Signe Anderson - vocals; Marty Balin - vocals, percussion; Paul Kantner - vocals, guitar; Jorma Kaukonen - lead guitar; Jack Casady - bass; Spencer Dryden - drums
This particular run of Winterland and Fillmore Auditorium shows featured Jefferson Airplane opening and closing a bill that included the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and legendary bluesman Muddy Waters. The Jefferson Airplane were just beginning to diversify their sound at the time, and Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady were pushing their playing to uniquely experimental places. Of historical note, vocalist Signe Anderson, who had helped to establish the group's identity, would depart a few weeks after the show, and open the door for the addition of Grace Slick.
The show starts off with the bands early trademark opening: the taped roar of a jet plane taking off, but surprisingly, they launch into "Go To Her" to open the set. This was possibly the song's debut in a live setting; and this set is notable, in general, for containing the earliest known live performances of several characteristic Airplane songs. The band was obviously gaining confidence and diversifying their live repertoire.
The next four songs focus on material from their debut album, including lovely versions of "Don't Slip Away" and "Come Up The Years," in possibly their debut live performances. Following a cover of "High Flying Bird," another important song in the band's history emerges: a cover of Donovan's homage to San Francisco and Jefferson Airplane in particular, "Fat Angel." This early take features Kantner on acoustic guitar, and while not as spacey or evolved as it would inevitably become, the performance is a sure sign that the group's approach was becoming far more adventurous. The earliest known live recording of "Chauffer Blues" follows, showcasing Signe Anderson on lead vocals - a fantastic performance that has far more energy and immediacy than its studio counterpart on the first album.
The set closes with the earliest known live recording of the classic "3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds." Taken at a slower tempo, it is fascinating to hear this song in its embryonic stages. It would soon be recorded for the group's sophomore LP, Surrealistic Pillow, and become a staple of live sets for the rest of their career - a fact that makes this earlier version, when Signe Anderson was still the female vocalist, all the more interesting.
This set remains one of the Airplane's most adventurous 1966 sets, with nearly half the material being introduced to the stage for the first time.
Written by Alan Bershaw