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Jefferson Airplane - Crown Of Creation CD (album) cover

CROWN OF CREATION

Jefferson Airplane

 

Proto-Prog

3.90 | 129 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Jefferson Airplane always seemed to skirt the line between a band that set trends and one that capitalized on fringe interests de jour. The band's formation and first album were steeped in a then-popular folk-rock/post-Beat style that garnered them plenty of attention as much due to timing and connections as for their talent. The follow-up 'Surrealistic Pillow', easily their most well-known recording, built on their meteoric rise to popularity and connections to several Summer of Love happenings by delivering the now timeless acid anthems "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit". And 'After Bathing at Baxter's' both heralded and parroted the sort of free-for-all decadent acid-trip improvisation that filled FM airwaves during 1966 and 1967.

By 1968 though, much of the left-end of the rock world was taking a decidedly country-rock direction, thanks to landmark albums by the Byrds ('Sweetheart of the Rodeo'), Buffalo Springfield and Dylan's 'Blonde on Blonde'. Once again the Airplane was ready with a contribution of their own, this time in the form of 'Crown of Creation'. While the band certainly didn't abandon their acid/psych reputation completely with the album, there is an easily recognizable shift toward more restrained, organized and rhythmic jam compositions than on the prior two records. This can be heard most clearly on the title track, "If You Feel", "Share a Little Joke" and to a certain extent the throwback bluesy dirge "Star Track". "If You Feel" in particular displays an intriguing blend of acid guitar, blues rhythm and subtle American country-inspired chord progressions.

That's not to say the band didn't trip out a bit in the studio as well, as with a rare Spencer Dryden composition (the instrumental "Chushingura") and a pair of acid-tinged closing numbers "Greasy Heart" and "The House at Pooneil Corners" demonstrate. But overall this album is much more disciplined and restrained than anything the band had done since 1965, and as a result holds up quite well even today although it was in some respects a minor disappointment to the band's more extreme fans back in 1968.

Two songs stand out in particular, both for different reasons. "Triad", the David Crosby tune reflecting on a love triangle is a decadent tale delivered lustily by the apparently intrigued Grace Slick; and Slick's own "Lather" which memorializes her then-boyfriend's thirtieth birthday while at the same time taking a jab at band bassist Jack Casady's arrest for public nudity just prior to the studio sessions for the album. Both served to further cement Jefferson Airplane's reputation as a band that operated on the social margins in a way that undoubtedly endeared them even more to their fans given the contrary mood among many young people in the late sixties.

'Crown of Creation' tends to be overshadowed in the Jefferson Airplane discography by 'Surrealistic Pillow' with its hit singles, and the seminal anti-Vietnam protest album 'Vounteers'. And that's too bad because the quality of the music and solid song- writing deserve more recognition in the sixties acid rock canon. In the end the palatable nature of the music give it a timeless quality that leaves the album in good stead today, and for that a four (of five) star rating is not out-of-line. Well recommended both to fans of the band and to those who are interested in hearing what the equally influential acid, psych, folk and contemporary rock styles of 1968 sounded like when rolled all into a single recording.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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