Legacyâ€™s two-disc Essential collection is actually a re-branded reissue of the 1998 Hits release, reiterating the same 35-track lineup and including Ben Fong-Torres original liner notes. If you pop these discs in your computerâ€™s CD drive, youâ€™re even likely to have the cover image of Hits pulled up by your media player. The set remains a good overview of â€œthe band that transformed with the times,â€ from Jefferson Airplaneâ€™s scene-leading San Francisco Sound recordings of the mid-to-late â€˜60s, through Jefferson Starshipâ€™s inheritance and evolution, and the Kantner-less Starshipâ€™s full-face turn to radio-friendly pop. The musical, social and commercial distance traveled from the Airplaneâ€™s earthy psychedelic jams to the Starshipâ€™s synth-laden ballads is itself a monument to adaptability.
The seventeen Airplane selections cover all seven of the bandâ€™s first run albums (nothing from their 1989 self-titled reunion is included), along with the single-only â€œHave You Seen the Saucers.â€ A few of their lower charting singles are absent, but other than â€œSomebody to Loveâ€ and â€œWhite Rabbit,â€ the Airplane was never a Top 40 success, and so the additional album tracks are more telling. Missing are tracks with early Airplane vocalist Signe Anderson singing lead, and even more noticeable is the lack of live material. Performance was an essential element of the San Francisco scene, and no telling of the Airplaneâ€™s story is truly complete without the stage interplay of vocalists and instrumentalists. Follow-on purchases of 30 Seconds Over Winterland, Bless Its Pointed Little Head or the more recent 6-CD anthology of vintage tapes can fill that gap.
Though the Jefferson Starship name was employed for Kantnerâ€™s 1970 sci-fi concept album, Blows Against the Empire, a steady band wasnâ€™t formed until four years later for 1974â€™s Dragon Fly. This set skips the former album and picks up with two songs (â€œCarolineâ€ and â€œRide the Tigerâ€) from the latter. Though Dragon Fly went gold (and hit #11 on the album chart), it was the groupâ€™s next release, Red Octopus, that marked their real commercial breakthrough. Topping the album chart, the album spun off the Top 5 single â€œMiraclesâ€ and introduced a band who would have a ten year run in the Top 40. Most of Jefferson Starshipâ€™s biggest hits are included here, missing only their Top 20 â€œWinds of Change.â€ All eight of the groupâ€™s first run studio albums are sampled here; their two reunion releases (1998â€™s Windows of Heaven and 2008â€™s Jeffersonâ€™s Tree of Liberty) are skipped.
The group transformed yet again in 1984, into Starship, and found even greater success on the singles chart with three #1s: â€œWe Built This City,â€ â€œSaraâ€ and the Albert Hammond & Diane Warren-penned theme to the filmÂ Mannequin, â€œNothingâ€™s Going to Stop Us Now.â€ Starship landed two more in the Top 10, the latter of which, 1989â€™s â€œItâ€™s Not Enough,â€ closes this set. Two more minor chart entries and a greatest hits album were released before the band morphed into a touring unit for vocalist Mickey Thomas. The six Starship tracks here cover all three of the bandâ€™s original albums, but omit a handful of lesser charting singles. This thirty-three track anthology provides a compelling picture of a San Francisco underground legendâ€™s metamorphosis into a 1980s commercial juggernaut. [Â©2013 Hyperbolium]