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Jefferson Airplane Long John Silver album cover
3.11 | 49 ratings | 9 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Long John Silver (4:25)
2. Aerie (Gang Of Eagles) (3:56)
3. Twilight Double Leader (4:45)
4. Milk Train (3:22)
5. Son Of Jesus (5:30)
6. Easter? (4:02)
7. Trial By Fire (4:35)
8. Alexander The Medium (6:40)
9. Eat Starch Mom (4:36)

Total time 41:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Grace Slick / vocals, piano
- Jorma Kaukonen / lead guitar, vocals
- Paul Kantner / rhythm guitar, vocals
- Papa John Creach / violin
- Jack Casady / bass
- Joey Covington / drums (3,5)
- John Barbata / drums, tambourine, sounds

- Sammy Piazza / drums (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Bob Tanenbaum and Propella Rotini

LP Grunt ‎- FTR-1007 (1972, US)

CD RCA ‎- 07863 66800-2 (1996, US) Restored/remastered by Bill Lacey
CD Culture Factory ‎- CFU01027 (2013, US) Remastered in 24-bit / 96kHz

Thanks to akin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Long John Silver ratings distribution

(49 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (14%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Long John Silver reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars With young Joey Covington having flown from the nest (he would later reappear in Hot Tuna), the Airplane had to resort to a real outsider in the name of John Barbata as a new drummer. By the time this album came out in July 72, it was clear that the Airplane's best days had gone and it was only a matter of time before it would be grounded indefinitely if not permanently. But the Airplane was not about to go out without a bang, and it came in the form of their gimmick artwork sleeve: It could be folded out and turned into a cigar-box while the inner sleeve represented the aligned cigars layer. But once it was pulled out, you could see the bottom of the box depicting a stash of weed (Jamaican Lamb's Bread just in case you ask me ;-). Yet another way to rile up the establishment, but this kind of provocation was only possible because of their Grunt record label.

The Opening title track is a relatively strong start with Jorma pulling a scorching solo while Jack is soaring like he had not since COC (in terms of volume), especially with the follow-up Areie (aptly sub-titled Gang Of Eagles) is another superb (as usual) Slick track, where Papa John and Jorma trade licks over the hood of Grace's piano. But unfortunately the rest of the tracks will not be up to par, even in the potentially explosive (lyrically anyway) Son Of Jesus.

Likewise the second side contains two excellent tracks like the typical Slick-track Easter (although it sounds like a remake of Aerie) and the Hot Tuna-like Trial By Fire is a very catchy (and Jack .is superb) The intended funny Alexander The Medium track falls a bit flat on its face, while their ultimate send-off (Eat Starch, Mom) is rather average. Again for the proghead, the harvest for gems is rather meagre, but remains another good rock album that many of their compadres would love to call their own.

Again for long-time frequent flyers, this album was slightly deceiving, but it remained qualitatively on the height of Volunteers and Bark. But sales were dwindling (a good deal of the fans were disappointed at Balin not coming back), the world was changing and it was some three years since the Airplane had lost their front rank in terms of groundbreaking music and political rebellion, and the Golden 60's hangover was simply tenacious.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars The last studio album for the Airplane before their loooooooooong break. I was not really charmed with "Bark" so I was rather suspect before I listened to this one.

I must say that the opener and title track is quite good. A great piece of boogie, rocking as hell with a sublime Slick on the vocals. It is very difficult to expect more from an opener. It is a very nice start. The hypnotic Slick voice strikes again in "Aerie" : a superb effort from this extraordinary artist. I always succumb when I listen to her (I have the same feeling with Patti Smith actually). When she is on the lead, my emotion is at its peak, really. This album is a very good surprise with these two brilliant songs.

And it goes on with the rocking "Twilight Double Leader". It is a strong, powerful number. Brilliant guitar work and fantastic rythm. The whole band sounds very united and seems to be very pleased to play together (although it is their last album). The same mold is used for "Milk Train" : another great rock song with nice violin and rageous guitar again. The psyche sound has gone, but it is replaced by great rock influence (even hard at times).

"The Son Of Jesus" has a slower tempo, a bit heavier. Text are rather provocant in these puritian times : "Jesus had a son by Mary Magdalene and he rode the land like the man who went before young Jesus raised him loud, mother Mary raised him proud and he tracked the men who laid his father down". I do not know if the band had problems with these lyrics in those days : saying wild and loud what is almost a given fact, but always hidden by the catholic authorities is something I have respect for. It is of course not new that JA was rather provocative but here they did not compromise. A good track of course.

This very good album continues with "Easter", which again features a great Slick on the vocals and a good piano and violin play to support her. So far, I must admit that this record reaches a level I wouldn't expect. To contradict me, "Trial By Fire" is the first poor number. It has a bluesy influence that does not appeal to me. "Alexander The Medium" starts difficultly, but the guitar solo is really great. After this, the violin work is again very interesting and provides a good orientation to this good track. It ends up very solidly. The closing number "Eat Starch Mom" is again a very strong rock song; almost heavy with superb guitar again. A very pleasant way to close this album.

This album is rockier than usual (except "Volunteers" probably). This might be the reason why I like it so much. When Grace is on the lead, this album reaches the level of their very best ones, really. To me, it sits with "Baxter" and "Volunteers" my two JA albums. It does not have the historical value of the first one, nor the fame of the later but I like it quite a lot.

Four stars.

Review by Tom Ozric
4 stars 'Long John Silver' was the last studio album to be released by Jefferson Airplane during their heyday, and is one of this listener's favourites, alongside the wonderfully psychedelic 'After Bathing at Baxter's'. From the elaborate LP packaging - with all the cut-out notches and creases in place to fold it into a 'stash box' - the inner sleeve, and the inside showing a close-up photo of some potent looking dope (they could've gone one further and made it a scratch 'n' sniff !!), to some truly engaging and thought provoking material . The music sounds quite 'heavy', with Jack Casady's unique, fuzzy Bass playing very up-front in the mix (with a rare writing credit for the music of the title-track) and a foxy Grace Slick, in all her cynicism, really packs-a-punch with her vocals/lyrics (religious fundamentalists would've been trembling from the lyrics of the sombre 'Easter?' - I don't even wish to repeat some of the lines here). Title song is a primo example of rumbling acid-rock, the Bass powerful enough to shake the fault-lines beneath the 'city they built on Rock 'n' Roll', a song about a pirate 'robbing kings with his talking parrot', searing guitar-play from Jorma Kaukonen, too. It gets the album off to a very strong start, and is musically depictive of what to expect throughout. 'Aerie' (Gang of Eagles)' is breath- taking with soaring vocals from Grace, and superb melodies, the late Papa John Creach adding texture with his bluesy violin playing. 'Twilight Double Leader' is a full-on, lysergically charged rocker, one of Paul Kantner's finest moments IMHO (until Jefferson Starship's 'Freedom at Point Zero' appeared). 'Milk Train' is a Papa John tour-de-force, with a heavy arrangement and suggestive lyrics from Grace. 'Son of Jesus' is quite a controversial track by Kantner, owing to his lyrics (hinting at some of the theories presented in ' The Da Vinci Code', but in his 'Hippy' way) and is nothing more than a decent track - the weakest number thus far.

'Easter?' is down-beat, with fuzz-bass, Grace's piano playing, and some touching violin, Jorma is in there with some fine guitaring. I dearly love this piece, but it's not something you could call 'beautiful' or 'enjoyable' because of its bleakness. 'Trial By Fire' is pure Jorma, to the point of sounding more 'Hot Tuna' (Jorma and Jack's side project at the time) than the Airplane. A colourful and catchy tune for a change. The longest cut on the record is 'Alexander the Medium' (6min 50secs), more ramble from Kantner, its finest section is during its final minute or so, with Grace wailing gloriously over a heavy tri-tone riff. Thanks to that previous minute, the introductory riff of 'Eat Starch Mom' reminds of something off a Black Sabbath album, vaguely like 'Supernaut'. Anyway, it's a fine song to close off this great album. Easy 4.5 stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Long John Silver" is the 7th full-length studio album and the last in 17 years by US, California based rock act Jefferson Airplane. The album was recorded March - May, 1972 at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco and released through Grunt Records in July of 1972. Itīs the successor to "Bark" from September 1971. The recording sessions were characterized by tensions and arguments over songwriting, further fueled by the drug and alcohol abuse of the members, and some tracks were written and recorded without all members in the studio.

Stylistically the material is blues influenced rock with psychadelic touches. Not much different from the sound and style on "Bark (1971)". The vocals are both male and female. Grace Slick sounds as vital and furious as ever while the male vocalists sound more restrained and less distinct. The musicianship is strong on all posts. There is a great organic interplay between all musicians (it contradicts what I wrote above about the recordings being done seperately, but it sounds great). I especially enjoy the fierce guitar playing by Jorma Kaukonen.

"Long John Silver" features a warm, organic, and powerful sound production, which is perfect for the material, and upon conclusion "Long John Silver" is a great ending to the classic period of the band and another recommendable album by Jefferson Airplane. Their output had been of a consistently good quality from the beginning with only a very few lows along the way. "Long John Silver" deserves a 3.5 star (70%) rating.

Review by Matthew T
4 stars This was it, the end was nigh and for the last studio album in a band that has such success in the psychdelic era and even were at that music festival in the late sixties this is pretty good. One of the major members with others had departed and as with this album and the prevoius Bark theres is no Marty Balin.The band had hardly been together since the previous album Bark, as the majority were chasing their own solo projects and things to say the least do not look promising. This also was the bands second release on their Grunt Label and the second appearance of Papa John Creach who plays electric violin.

The sound of the band had gone through a transformation and this album could be best described as Hard Rock with some great guitar work from Jorma Kaukonen. Grace Slick gets to do do the majority of the vocals which suits me fine and it really is her and Jorma that make this album.

The title track is the first and gets off to a great tune with vocals provided by Grace and a great jagged guitar throughout by Jorma. Track 2 Aerie ( Gang of Eagles) is another rocker with Grace again and the pick of the tracks for me on this album with the first two are Milk Train, Trial By Fire (Blues Rock), Easter and the crazy Eat Starch Mama which is Grace having a good old bitter rant and one of the more interesting tracks on this album. The only Paul Kantner song that has any interest for me is Alexander The Medium and you get to hear Papa John Creach do his stuff, Paul Kantner shares vocals with Grace.

I will admit that although sloppy (They spent 3 Months ?) the songs have life and the sound is changed to one which is much heavier and Grace Slick to me is such a distintive vocalist from this great time in music, that she carries the day with Jorma and for the last album this one is a real driver in places and really is a surprise it is not a total mess but quite a good record. At least they were still changing and with Bark the previous it was different.

The cover was on its own as well with the cigar box.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars The final Jefferson Airplane studio took the band out not on a high note (pun intended) but not quite with a whimper either. The horrid 'Bark' provided a transition for the group as it licked its wounds following several key departures including founder Marty Balin and drummer Spencer Dryden (followed by Joey Covington during the recording of 'Long John Silver'), as well as a serious auto accident involving Grace Slick that sidelined most of their touring activities in 1971. Once again the group relies heavily on supporting actors to augment band material, most notably Papa John Creach who was now considered an official member and Pat Ieraci who would not only organize the studio production but would go on to oversee a whole string of Airplane and Airplane-related compilations and side projects throughout the seventies.

The overall recording sessions seems to have been much better organized than just about anything from 'Bark' but the intangible 'heart' of the band seems to be gone for good. Most of the tracks are fairly pedestrian rock including the almost hair-band sounding "Twilight Double Leader" (great guitar soloing though); a heavy but directionless title track; and an unconvincing Grace Slick rant on the weirdly titled "Eat Starch Mom". Only the acerbic and violin-dominated "Son of Jesus" comes close to anything Airplane-like, and even here the arrangement feels somewhat forced and awkward at times.

Slick's vocals are as powerful as ever but at times she comes off a bit shrill, possibly a byproduct of her auto accident the year prior. Jorma Kaukonen is as solid as ever on guitar and tends to carry the instrumentation along with Creach's raw violin work. Slick doesn't play keyboards as much here as on the previous couple of albums, seeming to rely more on Creach to fill the gaps between the rhythm section and Kaukonen's guitar forays. On "Easter?" she offers a decent piano rendition, and her interplay with Creach on "Aerie (Gang of Eagles)" is mildly interesting but not exceptional.

Overall this is a decent album but not on par with the best Jefferson Airplane was capable of at their creative peak. Some recognition is due for a solid effort despite the crumbling of the band at all corners, and there are certainly many groups who have gone on one record too long and tarnished their reputations as a result. Jefferson Airplane didn't quite do that with 'Long John Silver', but there aren't many compilations that heavily feature tracks from this record and there's a reason for that.

Two stars for effort, and I did consider making it three but compared to their prior body of work couldn't quite get there. Recommended once you've heard everything else and certainly better than anything Starship and its derivatives recorded, but not among the better Airplane studio releases. The live 'Thirty Seconds Over Winterland' would be a better choice if you want to hear the best the band could sound like during their latter days.


Review by stefro
2 stars A minor improvement on the dreary 'Bark', this 1972 album from the seminal San Francisco psych purveyors - their 7th overall - nevertheless confirmed that Jefferson Airplane's best days were behind them. Featuring most of the group's key players(Kantner, Slick, Kaukonen, Casady) but lacking the song-writing skills of departed co- frontman Marty Balin(who was replaced by Papa John Creach) 'Long John Silver' is a brief, rustic affair, boasting a strong country influence and with a less experimental edge than their classic-era albums from the 1960s. However, whilst 'Bark' failed to muster even a single decent track, this follow-up at does at least have a few enjoyable nuggets up it's sleeve, even if the crumbling state of the group's various complex relationships and their obvious lack of focus and enthusiasm shown here become pretty obvious as the album progresses. 'Twilight Double Dealer' shows flashes of the old cosmic fire, with Grace Slick giving an impassioned performance at odds with the detached nature of her colleagues, whilst both 'Milk Train' and 'Trial By Fire' allow Finnish guitarist Kaunonen to vent his strong blues streak. That said, 'Long John Silver' is still a pretty inconsistent offering, especially when compared against the likes of 'Surrealistic Pillow' and 'Crown Of Creation', with some critics and fans suggesting that maybe, just maybe, Jefferson Airplane should have called it quits when the sixties finishes. Like that decades hopeful hippie dream, a dream that died in a welter of bad drugs, broken promises and unattainable ideals, the once pioneering Bay Area outfit merely faded away, churning out distinctly mediocre stuff once the 1970s began. Although the style is in check, the substance on this disappointing release is noticeably lacking. One for the die-hards only then.


Latest members reviews

3 stars Long John Silver ? 1972 (3/5) 10 ? Best Song: Aerie And thus the band has been fully taken into the hard rock groove. I'm alright with that, I enjoy me a little female-led, acidic and biting hard rock from time to time, but isn't this a little silly? As soon as the bigger bands release a sm ... (read more)

Report this review (#445872) | Posted by Alitare | Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Two stars is being generous. This one shows the decay and lack of imagination that eventually doomed the group. Jorma gets a nod here as he can still write a fine tune; and he and Jack Casady continue to be fine musicians. Grace's voice is showing serious strain, and Paul was never a great ... (read more)

Report this review (#128233) | Posted by numediaman | Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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