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.
- Planet Earth Rock And Roll Orchestra
- (She Is a) Telepath
- Circle of Fire
- Mount Shasta
- Lilith’s Song
- The Mountain Song
- Declaration of Independence
- Underground (The Laboratories)
- The Sky’s No Limit
- Let’s Go
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