Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Changing Winds Of Grace Slick AKA Kantner Finally Throws The Nuclear Furniture

Ah, Grace Slick. Your family tried to raise a good little girl, but you were simply having none of it. Private schools and a promising modeling career at a high-end department store just weren't enough to steer this all-American ingenue away from a life of hardcore leftist radicalism. Select highlights (or lowlights?) from Wikipedia:
In 1968, Slick performed "Crown of Creation" on The Smothers Brother Comedy Hour in blackface and ended the performance with a Black Panther fist. In an appearance on a 1969 episode of the Dick Cavett Show, she became the first person to say "motherfucker" on live television during a performance of "We Can Be Together" by Jefferson Airplane.

During her hospital stay after [daughter] China's birth, Slick joked to one of the attending nurses that she intended to name the child "god" with a lowercase g, as she "wished for the child to be humble."

Slick was dragged off a San Francisco game show for abusing the contestants.

Slick and Tricia Nixon, former President Richard Nixon's daughter, are alumnae of Finch College. Slick was invited to a tea party for the alumnae at the White House in 1969. She invited political activist Abbie Hoffman to be her escort and planned to spike President Richard Nixon's tea with 600 micrograms of LSD. The plan was thwarted when they were prevented from entering after being recognized by White House security personnel, as Slick had been placed on an FBI blacklist.

In 1971, after a long recording session, Slick crashed her car into a wall near the Golden Gate Bridge while racing with Jorma Kaukonen. She suffered a concussion and later used the incident as the basis of her song "Never Argue with a German if You're Tired (or 'European Song')," which appears on the Bark album (1971).

Despite her retirement, Slick has appeared a couple of times over the years with Paul Kantner's revamped version of Jefferson Starship when the band played in Los Angeles. The most recent appearance was during a post-9/11 gig during which she came on the stage initially covered in black from head to toe in a makeshift burqa. She then removed the burqa to reveal a covering bearing an American flag and the words "Fuck Fear".
The girl had moxie, all right. And not even Jefferson Starship's long, agonizing slide into faceless corporate arena rock was going to dull the edges on this particular knife.

Slick didn't have a huge presence on Winds of Change's "Be My Lady," which hit #28 and at least still kind of sounded like Jefferson Starship's mellow late '70s singles such as "Count On Me" and "With Your Love," as opposed to, I dunno, Foreigner. The video features Mickey Thomas in a series of Escher illustrations: The corner of a house ... without a house! The stairway that leads ... back to itself!

But the Chrome Nun (as David Crosby was fond of calling her) certainly made her presence known on "Out of Control." Ever wonder what happens when 40-year-old ex-hippie Baby Boomers suddenly listen to punk one day and decide, "Yeah, I can do that!" This is what happens. Patti Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, and Poly Styrene, look out, 'cause here comes Grace Slick.

The album's title track petered out at #38. Apparently the video was filmed on the set of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, with Grace Slick as Tinkerbell's older drug-addicted sister and Mickey Thomas as Bernie (from Weekend at Bernie's). Oh, and of course there's wind! Lots of wind!

By Nuclear Furniture, you can really sense Paul Kantner's tolerance finally reaching its breaking point. From Wikipedia: "Before the sessions came to a close, he stole the master tapes, put them in his car and drove around San Francisco for a few days and wouldn't bring them back until the band mixed the album in a way more to his liking." Well, I suppose that's one way to deal with deep disappointment in your band's new direction: take the album hostage! "No Way Out" hit #23 (#1 Mainstream Rock), and its complete dissimilarity to "White Rabbit" must have finally convinced Kantner to take the one pill that made him smaller. The video finds Mickey and his girlfriend accidentally stumbling into a laboratory run by ... sci-fi wizards? He becomes psychologically interrogated by ... Father Guido Sarducci? And Grace Slick is running around speaking like a munchkin? And some shirtless dude with a porn 'stache (I think he's the drummer) is lifting weights in bed, staring at a Japanese geisha who's dancing in front of a Mao poster? I give up on this one.

Last but not least: were you secretly hoping that Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick would run for president as "Mick & Slick"? In the "Layin' It On The Line" video, you get your wish, along with cameos by ... Willie Brown? Timothy Leary? G. Gordon Liddy? The Residents? Hey, at this point, they've got my vote. Maybe they can spike their tea with LSD once they get there.


Cleophus said...

I am a proud (former) owner of the Winds of Change and Nuclear Furniture LPs. I didn't know they had videos for most of those songs (or at least I hadn't seen them in decades). Thanks for posting this!

Little Earl said...

So you're that guy! Hey everybody, we've found him! We've finally found the one guy who bought those early '80s Jefferson Starship albums. To paraphrase another washed up '60s band that was still somehow scoring hits in the '80s, I knew you were out there somewhere. Yes, videos - and what videos they are!

Cleophus said...

Hey, I also owned "Freedom at Point Zero" and "Modern Times". I dove DEEP, man.

Anonymous said...

I attended several Jefferson Airplane and Starship tours but experience great difficulty when attempting to recollect specific details, which is understandable when one's alcohol intake rivals that of Richard Burton, Dean Martin, Oliver Reed, and Christopher Hitchens combined. (They were all light weights). Anyway my favorite record from JS was the 1975 Red Octopus release as it represented the proverbial point of inflection for the group. I will confess to purchasing a copy of "Freedom at Point Zero" at the attractive price of 99 cents in a used record store less than 6 months after its original release. I think someone had vomited on the actual vinyl but can't be sure. Anyway I greatly anticipate the upcoming remixed, remastered box set with outtakes and alternative versions of songs such as No Way Out and Jane. And if there is not such a release being planned there should be - Sir Ian Pennington Lackshaft The Wise

Juha said...

I bought WofC back in 1982 and Nuclear Furniture two years them..............but I love everything they have ever made :)