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Jefferson Airplane - Crown of Creation CD (album) cover

CROWN OF CREATION

Jefferson Airplane

 

Proto-Prog

3.89 | 86 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Raff
Prog Reviewer
5 stars By the time Crown of Creation was released, in the legendary year 1968, Jefferson Airplane were at the top at their game - one of the tightest, most gifted outfits known to man, with two lead singers to die for, one of the best bassists on the market, and quite remarkable songwriting skills. As others have already stated before me, this album is their crowning achievement (pun intended), and a brilliant snapshot of a bygone age, undeniably full of turmoil, but also of a genuine desire to change the world - unlike our own jaded, cynical times. The cover art - inspired by the atomic nightmare that dominated Western society for four decades, only to be replaced by other kinds of nightmares - also symbolises the era, and might lead those who approach the album to consider it somewhat dated. Anyway, it can safely be said that Crown of Creation is both rooted in its times (mainly by its imagery and lyrical themes), and timeless in the emotion, musicianship and sheer beauty of its music.

Even though the band members all bring their valuable contribution to the final result, I believe Grace Slick is the real star of this album. She is not only a vocal force to be reckoned with, but infuses every one of the compositions with her commanding personality. An icon of the Summer of Love, one of the first female rock stars, and the beautiful, sophisticated counterpart of the rougher, more instinctive Janis Joplin, she puts to shame all the wishy-washy, ethereal sopranos that clutter the prog world of today. Her resounding contralto, with its unique vibrato, blends perfectly with Marty Balin's beautiful, melodic tenor, but more often than not takes to the stage alone, veering from fragile, almost childish (as in album opener Lather, a song reflecting the Sixties' cult of youth and fear of losing it), to powerful and domineering (as in Greasy Heart, with its strongly feminist lyrics), to soaringly lyrical (as in the controversial Triad, penned by David Crosby).

The highlights of the album are too many to mention. Balin, who is here all but eclipsed by Slick, gets his chance to shine on If You Feel,, and especially on the melancholy Share a Little Joke. On the other hand, the anthemic, rousing title-track is sung chorally by all the band members (though you can hear Grace's voice soaring above the others), sounding almost like a call to arms. The vocal effects on the album's closing track, The House at Pooneil Corners are also quite stunning - this song is probably the one offering on the album that points the listener to the future developments of progressive rock, a showcase for both guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's and bassist Jack Casady's incredible skills. The overall mood of the track is dark and menacing, like a sort of foreboding of the sudden, tragic end of the Summer of Love, and of all the ideals that grew out of it.

While I have some doubts as to whether Crown of Creation can really be considered 'proto-prog', I have no doubts whatsoever about its status as one of the masterpieces of rock music, and one of the seminal albums of the late Sixties. After Jefferson Airplane released another gem in Volunteers, things quickly started to fell apart for this iconic band. In any case, this is an album every self-respecting rock fan should listen to at least once in their lifetime, and one that most prog fans will thoroughly enjoy.

A fully-deserved five-star rating from me, who would also like to dedicate this review (like many others before it) to one of the biggest JA fans on this site - my dearest husband, Micky.

Raff | 5/5 |

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