Archive for Craig Chaquico

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Jefferson Starship- Nuclear Furniture

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2017 by 80smetalman

For me in 1984, Jefferson Starship, being my favourite band in the world since 1977, would come to a cross roads with me in the form of the album “Nuclear Furniture.” As previously stated enough times that you’re all sick of reading it, my musical tastes were getting much heavier. With “Nuclear Furniture,” the band began to shy away from the hard rock of their previous three albums. However, I wasn’t going to demote them straight away and there was enough good material on the album to keep them at my number one.

First let us start out with the weak. The first single from the album, “No Way Out” while miles better than the vast majority of synth pop coming out at the time, it lacked the power chords I was now craving. Craig Chaquico does save the song with one of his decent guitar solos. Then again, he does it with many of the songs, even the ones where it’s not essential. The other songs that might fall into the same category as “No Way Out” have something else that makes them great, with the possible exception of  “Magician.” I was getting more and more politically aware in 1984 and seeking out music that reflected my beliefs. There are some great songs that do this. Two of them are about nuclear destruction, “Champion,” one of my favourites and “Showdown.” Grace Slick’s vocals make the latter song sound that much better. Again, lyrically, “Assassin” is a great song. It might have been better placed in the late 90s as it could be applied to school shootings. The song is about a stranger in the neighbourhood who turns out to be a killer. “Live and Let Live” speaks to me personally, not politically and without going into great personal detail, took a load of withheld anger from me. With the track, “Connection,” the song clearly trumpets my theory of what would happen if Jesus and Mohammed had actually met each other. While these songs might not be hard rockers, the lyrics really make you think.

Now for the rockers, “Shining in the Moonlight” is a straight ahead one of those bringing back memories of those previous three albums, “Freedom at Point Zero,” “Modern Times” and “Winds of Change.” The other two are not only cool rockers in my book but also have political lyrics I like. “Rose Goes to Yale” is a short but powerful rocker that makes a great point while rocking out to it. However, my favourite track on the album has to be “Laying It on the Line.” A great intro and even though it is a little synthed in places, I don’t mind. A cool guitar solo and to my knowledge, it is the only song anywhere to mention what had happened to my marine buddies in Lebanon some seven months earlier.

“Got US boys on foreign soil,

“Spillin’ their blood to keep the peace.” 

Track Listing:

  1. Laying It On the Line
  2. No Way Out
  3. Sorry Me, Sorry You
  4. Live and Let Live
  5. Connection
  6. Rose Goes to Yale
  7. Magician
  8. Assassin
  9. Shining in the Moonlight
  10. Showdown
  11. Champion

Jefferson Starship

Mickey Thomas- vocals

Grace Slick- vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar, backing vocals

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals, banjo

Pete Sears- bass, keyboards

David Freiberg- keyboards, vocals

Donny Baldwin- drums, percussion, backing vocals

Paul Kantner- Jefferson Starship

In spite of “Nuclear Furniture” being a decent album, Jefferson Starship would cease to be my favourite band in 1984. This was because that Paul Kantner would leave the band shortly after the album’s release. Not only that, he would take the Jefferson moniker with him after a lawsuit. Like I said when I posted about Kantner’s death last year, it was always his songs on the albums I preferred the most. After he left, the band would morph into Starship and I definitely didn’t like what I heard on their next album. I want to like Jefferson Starship as I always have remembered them.

Next post: Greg Kihn Band- Khintagious

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1983: Paul Kantner- Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra

Posted in 1980s, Books, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2016 by 80smetalman

PERRO_Paul_Kantner_album

It figures that my weird mind would notice that Paul Kantner’s very recent passing would occur right when I was going through the music history of 1983, the year his solo album was released. I was going to visit his album “Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra” further along down the road as it didn’t come to light until near the end of said year. Actually, I remember the opening title cut getting some airplay on radio back then. Mind you commercial radio didn’t completely suck in 1983. Like I said last post, I always preferred the songs Kantner penned on Jefferson Starship albums, so it was a no brainer that I would get this one.

What I never knew was that this album was written to be a soundtrack for Paul’s second novel “The Empire Blows Back,” which was a sequel to his first “Blows Against the Empire.” Listening to the album again, I can see how it fits. “Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra” or PERRO for short is a mixture of hard, progressive and space rock and it’s nicely done. Many of the musicians who appear on the album were current or former members of Jefferson Starship and Jefferson Airplane. Grace Slick does lead vocals on two songs and backing on many of the others. Furthermore, Craig Chaquico works his guitar magic as does Pete Sears with the keyboards, just like all three of them do on Jefferson Starship albums.

The album starts out in a fine hard rock form with the first three songs. The title cut opens things very well and I’m very impressed with track 2, “(She is a) Telepath.” “Circle of Fire” was originally meant for the “Winds of Change” but it fits very well here. The next few tracks go very spacey and I think that possibly when these tracks are listened to, maybe one should partake of the same substances they would if listening to a Pink Floyd album. “The Mountain Song” combines both hard and space rock and to me has the typical trademark of a Kantner song. I have since learned that Paul co wrote it with Jerry Garcia so that may explain a lot. Then , out of the blue comes the very amusing track, “Declaration of Independence.” Sung by Paul and Grace’s daughter China Wing Kantner, the song is almost country with Paul playing along on the banjo, a very amusing song to say the least. China, who was only 12 at the time, provides the perfect vocals for it sounding like a little girl. The last two songs end things very well, especially the closer, “Let’s Go.” I remember once when listening to the track “I Came Back from the Jaws of the Dragon” off Starship’s “Winds of Change” album, my ex wife commented that it sounded like Godspell. Yes, Paul had a thing for harmonies in that style on many of the songs but on “Let’s Go,” it concludes the album in masterful form.

Track Listing:

  1. Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra
  2. (She Is a) Telepath
  3. Circle of Fire
  4. Mount Shasta
  5. Lilith’s Song
  6. Transubstantiation
  7. The Mountain Song
  8. Declaration of Independence
  9. Underground (The Laboratories)
  10. The Sky’s No Limit
  11. Let’s Go
Paul Kantner- Jefferson Starship

Paul Kantner- Jefferson Starship

Paul Kantner- vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica, synthesizers, lead guitar on “Underground”

Grace Slick- vocals, piano on “The Mountain Song” and “The Sky is No Limit”

Jack Casady- bass

Chiam Wing Kantner- vocals on “Declaration of Independence” and “The Sky Is No Limit”

Alexander Kantner- vocals on “Underground”

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar

Pete Sears- piano

Aynsley Dunbar- drums

Scott Matthews- guitar, harmonica, synthesizers, pedal steel guitar and Linn drums

Ron Nagle- piano and vocals on Transubstantiation

Ronnie Montrose- lead guitar on (She is a) Telepath

Flo & Eddie- vocals

Mickey Thomas- vocals on Circle of Fire

David Freiberg- synthesizers and vocals on Circle of Fire

The problem with “Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra” was that it wasn’t mainstream enough. That’s why it go only limited airplay on radio. Even if it didn’t I believe that I would have eventually discovered it and bought it anyway. This is a cool album and I think it would be only fitting to honour Paul Kantner by listening to it.

Next post: (Hopefully) Billy Idol

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go t http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1982: Jefferson Starship- Winds of Change

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2015 by 80smetalman

WindsOfChange_Jefferson_Starship

No, I haven’t fallen down a hole nor was I kidnapped by a raging gang of Boy George fans on account of my April Fool’s joke. The reason why I haven’t been around for the past few weeks was down to technical difficulties. Having a computer under warranty has distinct advantages but one disadvantage is that I had to wait nearly two weeks to have my new keyboard delivered. My stepson was kind enough to lend me his laptop from time to time so I was able to follow many of you whose blogs I get directly through email but he wouldn’t let me download photos or give me enough time to write a post. But that’s all over and I’m back! What no fanfare?

One very annoying misconception about hard rock and heavy metal is that every album from such an artist sounds the same. Yes, I scream “Bullshit!” when I hear this and the same was said back in 1982 when Jefferson Starship released their album “Winds of Change.” To the uneducated, it sounded just like their previous albums “Freedom at Point Zero” and “Modern Times.” I bet if they actually listened to all three albums, they would realise that they couldn’t have been more wrong.

First of all, when I listen to this album, I am reminded why Jefferson Starship was my favourite band from 1977-84. “Winds of Change” contains everything I liked about the band back then and it adds a few surprises. What I like most about the album is that Craig Chaquico is given free reign on the guitar. Every song has a killer solo or guitar break and in many cases, both. If you ever wondered just how good a lead guitarist he is, then listen to “Winds of Change” because it shows him at his best.

Let’s not take anything away from the rest of the band. Pete Sears still lays down some of his keyboard magic in songs like “Be My Lady” and “Can’t Find Love” as well as working well with Paul Kantner and Aynsley Dunbar to provide a cool rhythm section. Mickey Thomas is at his vocal best and this was the album that marked Grace Slick’s complete return to the band. Her vocals make one believe that she never left the band in the first place. She also leads the band with a small departure from the norm with the punk like “Out of Control.” Every time I hear that song, I just want to start pogo dancing.

While there’s not a bad track to be found on the album, the ones that stick out for me are the title track, the previously mentioned one, “Black Widow” where Grace makes the mating ritual of the black widow spider sound almost erotic and Paul Kantner makes his usual fine contribution with “I Came Back From the Jaws of the Dragon.” The song starts out about Kantner’s brain hemorrhage that might have killed him and his near miraculous recovery but in the Kantner style, goes political on Central America and crime and punishment. For the Jefferson Starship fan, there is everything to like on this album.

Track Listing:

1. Winds of Change

2. Keep on Dreamin’

3. Be My Lady

4. I Will Stay

5. Out of Control

6. Can’t Find Love

7. Black Widow

8. I Came Back From the Jaws of the Dragon

9. Quit Wasting Time

Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship

Mickey Thomas- vocals

Grace Slick- vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar, backing vocals

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals

Pete Sears- keyboards, piano, synthesizer and bass on all tracks except “Be My Lady”

David Freiberg- vocals, keyboards, bass on “Be My Lady”

Aynsely Dunbar- drums, percussion

*Note: While Aynsely Dunbar played on the recording of the album, he would leave before the tour and was replaced by Donny Baldwin

A few years down the line, Mickey Thomas would use the observation I made earlier to justify the Starship’s later change in sound. But that story’s for another day. “Winds of Change” showed that Jefferson Starship could rock with the best of them.

Next post: Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1982

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Jefferson Starship- Modern Times

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2014 by 80smetalman

untitled (4)

When Jefferson Starship released their previous album, “Freedom At Point Zero,” Rolling Stone magazine commented that they had become just another heavy metal band. We all know that any one who has heard that album can deduce that the person from Rolling Stone who said it obviously has no understanding what heavy metal is but that’s beside the point. In response to that statement, Paul Kantner, wrote back saying, “Fuck You, We Do What We Want.” Those words became immortalised on the closing track of this album “Modern Times.”

It was a wise thing to let Jefferson Starship do what they wanted for this album follows on nicely from the last one. While not heavy metal, there is a great deal of hard rock on the album to be loved. The first two tracks, “Find Your Way Back” and “The Stranger” were both singles for the band but in no way are either of these songs pop. Probably why the highest they charted was the former of the two, which peaked at 29. “Wild Eyes” is a typical Jefferson Starship rocker and the last track on side one (I only bought cassettes at this time), “Save Your Love,” Craig Chaquico demonstrates why I rant on about his guitar playing so much. Side two gives us three shorter in length powerful rockers. The opening riffs of “Mary” have stuck in my mind for over thirty years now the way that familiar riff of “Smoke On the Water” has. The fourth song, “Alien,” goes a little more on the progressive side and some say that it’s a little way out there. Then comes the closer, “Stairway to Cleveland.” “While not a piss take of the Led Zeppelin classic, the reason why Jefferson Starship gave that title to the song was because they thought that Cleveland was the direct opposite of heaven at the time. I knew a few guys from Cleveland back then and they wouldn’t debate them on that. The song also makes good digs at politics and some of the institutions of the time as well as Rolling Stone.

One of the hypes behind the release of “Modern Times” was it marked the return of Grace Slick to the band. Not particularly true. She does sing backing vocals on most songs and lead on “Alien” and as a duet with Mickey Thomas on “The Stranger.” That’s one reason the song is so good. Of course, you can never fault the musicianship of this band on any album and definitely not here. Chaquico shines with his guitar throughout with Paul Kantner laying down the reliable rhythm for him. Pete Sears does his normal keyboard wizardry and Aynsely Dunbar shows why he was considered a brilliant drummer back then.

Grace Slick

Grace Slick

Track Listing:

1. Find Your Way Back

2. The Stranger

3. Wild Eyes

4. Save Your Love

5. Modern Times

6. Mary

7. Free

8. Alien

9. Stairway to Cleveland

Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship

Mickey Thomas- vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals

David Freiberg- piano, organ, synthesiser, bass, vocals

Pete Sears- bass, piano, synthesiser, moog

Aynsley Dunbar- drums, percussion

Grace Slick- vocals

There was one time back in 1981 when I didn’t watch Fridays solely to see Melanie Chartof. I watched because Jefferson Starship was appearing on it that night. They were my favourite band back then and the “Modern Times” album reminds me why.

Next post: Jim Steinman- Bad For Good

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Jefferson Starship- Freedom At Point Zero

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by 80smetalman

FreedomAtPointZero

This is one of my favourite albums of all time and definitely my favourite album from Jefferson Starship. Back then they were my favourite band and with this album, Jefferson Starship was progressing in the same way my personal music tastes were progressing. They had abandoned their more mellow progressive sound of the mid to late 70s and took on a much harder, rockier sound and I loved it, still do. Not everyone agreed with the change at the time, Rolling Stone stated that Jefferson Starship had become just another heavy metal band. My reaction to such a claim would have been the same as rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner’s reaction but I won’t tell you what that was til I get to their next album.

Some less informed persons have claimed that the reason why this was their best album was all down to the absence of Grace Slick. I can’t say that I agree with that either. I put the success of “Freedom At Point Zero” down to two other factors: a) Lead guitarist Craig Chaquico is given much more liberty to show what he can do with his guitar on the album and b) Paul Kantner does more of the song writing on it. If you are scratching your head over the last one, listen to the title track and the track “Lightning Rose” and you should see what I mean.

Craig Chaquico

Craig Chaquico

After the departures of lead singers Grace Slick and Marty Balin from the band, Jefferson Starship did leave their mellow out approach behind and took up a more heavier sound. There is their big single “Jane” which starts the album off with a rocky vibe that sticks with you. Other tracks like “Things to Come,” “The Girl With the Hungry Eyes” (that title has always amused me) and “Rock Music” are good rocking sounds that bear the banner for this album. Even the more laid back songs like “Fading Lady Light” don’t totally abandon this and the one thing I can say that despite the harder sound, their creativity from those earlier years still is evident. This is why it’s my favourite Jefferson Starship album.

Track Listing:

1. Jane

2. Lightening Rose

3. Things to Come

4. Awakening

5. Girl With the Hungry Eyes

6. Just the Same

7. Rock Music

8. Fading Lady Light

9. Freedom at Point Zero

js

Pete Sears- bass, keyboards

Ansley Dunbar- drums

David Freiberg- bass, keyboards, vocals

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar, vocals

Mickey Thomas- vocals

“Freedom At Point Zero” is considered the best album by Jefferson Starship in the opinion of myself and many others. They made a major transformation to the world of hard rock and did so with some impressive ease, although I always knew they had it in them. I thought there would be no better way of ending the great rock albums of 79 tour than this. I will be going into the great metal albums of that year after a one stop detour. However, I will pass on the advice that Jefferson Starship give in one of their songs: “Rock and roll is good time music, listen to it.”

Next post: Rock One Hit Wonders of 1979

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London.

 

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Pat Travers- Live! Go For What You Know

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by 80smetalman

Raise your hand if there has been a musical artist you like who you hadn’t t listened to in many years where when you finally do get around listening to them again, you remember how much you really liked them. I put up my hand to Pat Travers. He was another musical great who never made it onto being played on the old AM clock radio. I first heard about him when I saw this album advertised in a music catalog. Back in the late seventies, they use to have these record clubs where you get an initial offer of buying six albums for a penny to join but you had to buy so many albums in two years. It was such a catalog where I discovered Pat Travers.

Once again, it was my military experiences of widening my musical horizons where I finally got to listen to this great artist and it was this live album. “Live! Go For What You Know” was the perfect album to showcase all of his great songs and guitar talents. The most noted song from this album is “Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights” which many of the bands playing to bars and clubs in North Carolina seemed to play. I also really like “Hooked on Music,” “Go All Night” and “Heat in the Street” but all of the songs here are some powerful, blues based, kick ass rock and roll.

Often have I mentioned the ever growing list of underrated guitarists from the seventies and recently, I have consciously been more picky about who I add to the list. However, Pat Travers is one guitarist who definitely belongs on the list. I might even go as far as to equate him with the likes of some I’ve already mentioned like Gary Richrath, Craig Chaquico and Rory Gallagher, ok I can’t leave out Brian May. Travers can definitely bend the six string to his will and a listen to this great live album will confirm it.

Track Listing:

1. Hooked on Music

2. Gettin’ Betta

3. Go All Night

4. Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights

5. Stevie

6. Makin’ Magic

7. Heat in the Streets

8. Makes No Difference

Pat Travers

Pat Travers- guitar, vocals

Mars Cowling- bass

Pat Thrall- guitar, backing vocals

Tommy Aldridge- drums

The moral of the story here is don’t go a long time without listening to someone you know is good. I made that mistake here with Pat Travers and my excuse of not owning any of his material doesn’t cut it. So, I’m going to have to go out and buy this fantastic live album. Praise the Lord for Amazon! I think you should give it a listen too, I guarantee you won’t regret it. I am wondering and my buddy Stone started my mind rolling on this one, if Pat Travers is yet another great artist the numpties at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have ignored.

Next post: Olivia Newton John- Totally Hot

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1979: Jefferson Starship- Gold

Posted in 1979, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2012 by 80smetalman

As I said a few posts ago, 1979 was a big transitional year for me and I will probably say it a few more times as I continue to visit some of the great rock and metal albums from this year, so I ask your forgiveness in advance if I go on about it too much. It also turned out that 1979 was also a major transitional year for my favourite band from the 70s, Jefferson Starship. When I saw that the “Gold” album had been released in the February of that year, I just thought it was a typical greatest hits release from their albums from 1974-78 and didn’t realise what was going on behind the scenes. It would be a long time later before I learned that Grace Slick had said “I don’t want to play with you guys ever again,” after a bust up in Germany. She would also have to go to rehab for her problems with the bottle. Also, Marty Balin would also leave the band to persue a solo career. Therefore, “Gold” would mark a major change in the flight plan of the Starship.

First, let me be the first one to declare that I should be lined up against a wall and shot for not including the “Red Octopus” album in my “Great Rock Albums of the 70s” chapter in my tour. This was a great album that hit number one in the charts and unprecedented four times! And don’t be fooled by the three singles from the album that appear on here, althought I do really like “Fast Buck Freddie.” There are some other hidden rocking gems on this album so, it’s no wonder this album was so popular.

Anyway, back to “Gold.” Needless to say, it’s a greatest hits album so the songs that appear on here will have had some form of commercial success and be familiar to most people, that’s a given. However, this album had a little surprise for me the first time I listened to it. I had never heard the album “Dragon Fly” so when the song “Ride the Tiger” came blasting out of my speakers, I was totally amazed. This was a true hard rocking song that showcases the talents of Craig Chaquico with the ever competent Paul Kantner backing him up on rhythm guitar. As a result, “Ride the Tiger” went instantly to number one in my favourite Starship song list at that  time and continues to be up there in the top five of all time. In addition, the album featured a new single, “Light the Sky on Fire,” which also went of the grain of the more mellower songs from this time period and left me impressed by the musicianship.

Track Listing

1. Ride the Tiger

2. Caroline

3. Play on Love

4. Miracles

5. Fast Buck Freddie

6. With Your Love

7. St Charles

8. Count On Me

9. Love Too Good

10. Runaway

Bonus tracks

Light The Sky On Fire

Hyperdrive

Jefferson Starship

Grace Slick- vocals, piano

Marty Balin- vocals

Paul Kantner- rhythm guitar, vocals

Craig Chaquico- lead guitar, backing vocals

Pete Sears- bass, keyboards

David Freiberg- bass, keyboards, backing vocals

John Barbata- drums, backing vocals

Papa John Creach- violin

“Gold” marked an end of an era for Jefferson Starship. It put the final nail in the coffin that laid to rest the band’s reputation for mellow out love songs. After “Gold,” their sound would change forever and be the source of much debate that carries on to this day. As for the new sound, well you will have to stick around as I’m not going to tell about that til much further down the line.

Next post: Frank Zappa- Sheik Yourb0uti

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London