June 13, 2012

Unfortunately, the Jefferson Airplane sounds pretty bad, and Jean-Luc Godard's camerawork is execrable.

But this NYC wake-up concert from a rooftop in 1968 had all the elements of greatness.

(The famous Beatles rooftop concert in the movie "Let It Be" was filmed in 1969.)

ADDED: Hazy Dave emails:
BTW, the Beatles thing was filmed January 30, 1969, and the Airplane was apparently Taken Off the roof December 7, 1968 (not November as the story states), so it was "the" year before, if not "a" year before. Almost 8 weeks, anyway. :) 
Who knows which one was planned first?

44 comments:

bagoh20 said...

i think the "amateurish" camera work is great, actually. It works for me.

But watching profession video and film of the last 2 decades makes that easier to deal with than it would have before.

Bob_R said...

Saw Hot Tuna last year. Jack has aged gracefully, but Jorma has seen some mile. Both still play as well as ever. Never played with anyone who could sing worth a damn.

Jules Aimé said...

Ba, that's nothing. The Society for The Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America was founded after a rooftop concert in 1938.

edutcher said...

The post makes it sound like the old wheeze, "The operation was a success even though the patient died".

X said...

what's so great about annoying people with shitty music against their will?

YoungHegelian said...

Okay, is there a surviving tape ANYWHERE of the Jefferson Airplane doing a good live performance?

What recorded live performances I've heard of them (e.g. Woodstock) they always sound as if half the band is three sheets to the wind.

And by '68 they'd gotten into their preachy, pompous counterculture lefty phase.

But, the worst was yet to come --- STARSHIP!

The Drill SGT said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1cfTMdjkYM

phx said...
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Robert Cook said...

It was actually pretty good, as far as Jefferson Airplane performances go...but then, I've never been keen on Jefferson Airplane.

Grace Slick was a real beauty when young.

phx said...
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YoungHegelian said...

@RC,

"Grace Slick was a real beauty when young."

And she knew it, too. She, in her own words, lived in the "golden age of fucking", when there was a cure for whatever STD one got.

Let's just say she lived according to the old Scottish proverb "Beauty without bounty avails nothing".

BarrySanders20 said...

"It had all the elements of greatness."

I find that to be true of most of what I see from the late 1960's video, that the descriptions of the era's greatness don't match the reality captured on film.

But the One America video this clip came from was interesting. I was born in 1968 and my dad worked in Manhattan. It is interesting to see what downtown New York looked like when he commuted to work. The suburban New Jersey world that I remember was completely different than the one he saw every day as shown in the video.

Now to excercise soem self discipline and get back to the salt mine.

After I eat that marshmallow.

phx said...
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Crunchy Frog said...

Man she could sing, too. What happened to female rock and pop singers?

They all went to country and christian music.

eddie willers said...

I think I saw Roger Sterling grooving out.

Bart said...

I have never been a big Beatles fan, but their rooftop concert is great. Watch it if you have an extra 20 min.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWzs3YbtehI

Mark O said...

We were so much older then.

William said...

There's something totalitarian about inflicting loud music upon an unwary public and thinking that such an experience is good for them. I never had that insight with the Beatles concert, but that was my impression here.....If I had the money, I'd hire a group of sound techs to follow Grace Slick around and blast megadecibel Kate Smith recordings at her when she least expects it.

Hazy Dave said...

Grace was certainly loud, but I tend to prefer Marty's lead vocal work on the first couple albums. But live, their vocals were always something of a train wreck. Add Kantner shouting along, and any sense of melody, harmony and choral cohesion is a figment of the imagination.

And when Marty withdrew, Jorma's one or two songs per album became indisputable highlights. You know I'm right, even if you think Papa John Screech was a valuable addition to the band.

damikesc said...

Okay, is there a surviving tape ANYWHERE of the Jefferson Airplane doing a good live performance?

No. They are one of the more overrated acts in music history. To describe them as "good" is to rape the term of all meaning.

The sixties are better measured in ways beyond viewing videos.

So, an actual record of events is not the best way to view the 60's?

...well, the hippies would likely agree.

Palladian said...

What a hideous racket.

phx said...
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John said...

I saw them before Grace Slick when they had the other girls singer whose name I can never remember.

At that time they were struggling for traction, though they did have the 1 album out.

They did a free concert on a double bill with Blue Cheer at The Print Mint on Haight Street. (Just down the block from Ashbury)

This would have been in January of 67.

I don't remember much about it other than 1) It was loud, 2) I was stoned and speeding 3) I had a good time.

OTOH, it probably could have been Mr Rogers singing about the beautiful day in his neighborhood and I would have had a good time.

(Luckily I wound up joining the Navy and becoming a relatively good citizen)

John Henry

Palladian said...

That's right. Actually being there was the best way to view the sixties.

If this is the case, then fortunately it won't be too many more years before that execrable decade will disappear from human consciousness.

John said...

Speaking of rooftop concerts, what about U2s "Where the streets have no name" in LA in the 90s?

I still like watching that from time to time.

John Henry

EDH said...

"It's been done."

phx said...
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Palladian said...

Nostalgia isn't enough to shield your glory days from the harsh judgment of history, man.

Robert Cook said...

"'The sixties are better measured in ways beyond viewing videos.'

"So, an actual record of events is not the best way to view the 60's?"

No.

A video, or even a collection of videos, cannot suffice as an "actual record" of any era, and cannot and do not explain the era. Such documents can only capture brief moments, and, at that, only the surface appearance of the moment, missing entirely the underlying experiential reality felt by the actors on display, their thoughts, their expectations and goals, the context that placed them there at that moment when the photograph or film was made.

An era comprises countless such moments, any one of which may be more or less significant or insignificant, but which add up to something that is felt as it's happening. Rarely can any documentary record capture that experiential reality.

(Richard Linklater's DAZED AND CONFUSED is startling in how much it feels like the era it depicts. It's set at the end of the school year in 1975 in Austin, Texas. I graduated high school a couple of years earlier in another southern town, in coastal Florida. Linklater's film has the feeling of verite to me, as if he had set a camera crew back in time and brought forth this record that succeeds in conveying just how it looked and felt in that time and place.)

Much of the "greatness" or glory of an era, as remembered by its participants, may have to do less with the daily details, the "reality" (sic) as captured in images or recordings, but in the emotions aroused in the actors by the ongoing events, the expectations and hopes of great change happening, the excitement of living through such great change.

The 60s really were pretty epochal.

X said...

palladian who you gonna believe, phx or your lying eyes? the 60's were clean, full of good music, and didn't smell like ass.

Bob R said...

@phx - Sorry, Grace could not really sing, but was smart enough to know it and have songs written for her that cover less than an octave. I think White Rabbit covers about a minor sixth. I'm not knocking it, just saying that you can't call her a good singer any more than you can call someone who pounds out power chords a good guitar player.

damikesc said...

That's right. Actually being there was the best way to view the sixties.

I can only imagine what OTHER things are better only as nostalgic memories.

If the only way it can be palatable is if you "were there" --- then it was total crap and some sycophants think it's nifty and don't want to revisit how utterly useless it was.

Heck, mind blower: The music at Woodstock was rather terrible and the entire event was a historical eyesore. I can make such statements yet I wasn't there personally. Odd, eh?

No.

So, even though I've heard a ton of Grateful Dead and Phish and can speak, with some experience, to the contrary, they are actually really awesome? Heck, I went to a Phish concert once (sex will make men do weak things), but since I wasn't high and falling over myself like the girl next to us, I didn't "get it" and likely cannot judge. Alas.

So, when kids today discuss how fucking amazing Justin Bieber is --- you don't have any room to criticize or say he's terrible, eh? He's the greatest in history because they say so.

Battleship was an amazing movie. You just had to be there to "get it", huh?

Don't expect people to entertain nostalgia with the same reverence you do. It wasn't me shooting this nonsense on video to show the future generations my sheer level of awesomeness. The FANS shot it to show how awesome it was. Whose fault is it that it was, well, shit?

Heck, when I was a kid, pop culture was unmitigated crap on a stick. I'm willing to admit to that. Why can't kids of the 60's do the same? Either the 60's killed pop culture for the rest of human existence --- or pop culture was pretty bad back then as well.

A video, or even a collection of videos, cannot suffice as an "actual record" of any era, and cannot and do not explain the era.

Kinda makes journalism useless, huh?

Or history as a subject of study.

Much of the "greatness" or glory of an era, as remembered by its participants, may have to do less with the daily details, the "reality" (sic) as captured in images or recordings, but in the emotions aroused in the actors by the ongoing events, the expectations and hopes of great change happening, the excitement of living through such great change.

Shall I list the loathesome groups whose adherents defend their abysmal practices for identical reasons?

The 60s really were pretty epochal.

Not really, no. The kids of the 60's, however, have one of the more unearned senses of selves in human history and insist on inflicting their pap on others who recognize schlock for what it is.

But videos from the Mike Douglas show or the fabulous Time-Life Collection are, get ready for it, not the best way to view the sixties.

Outside of "curing insomnia", what exactly ARE Mike Douglas videos good for?

phx said...
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netmarcos said...

Gentlemen, Ladies, please! If you need a J-A concert fix (audio primarily), they have dozens of them over at Wolfgang's Vault - starting with Nov 6, 1965Calliope Warehouse

http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/jefferson-airplane/

Robert Cook said...

"I think Lou Reed is a CREEP!"

Song lyric, The Dictators, 1975

Truer words were never spake!

Robert Cook said...

damikesc,

I'm referring to the era (and all it comprised), and you're focused on pop music.

Chip Ahoy said...

The greatness of the music of the 60s IS captured accurately and viewing recordings of the era IS the best way to relive those precious moments.

But you must drop acid first.

X said...

has there ever been a group that were bigger sell outs than JA? from preachy dirges in the 60's to commercial pop treacle in the 70's and 80's.

perhaps REO Speedwagon, but they were a third tier band before they went bubblegum with songs based on cliches.

damikesc said...

I'm referring to the era (and all it comprised), and you're focused on pop music.

I could focus on any aspect you wish and it was still an, overall, terrible decade. It was no 1970's, but it was really not terribly good.

Robert Cook said...

I didn't say it was necessarily "good," although I think it can be well argued that, in many ways, it was; I said it was "epochal."

Even if only for political, cultural and generational turmoil, it was epochal.

cathy said...

Yeah, listening to the music is almost the only way to relive the times. And a group like JA, who meant a lot to me then, makes it so I remember the drugs, too. It's a total experience still in my memory, the music, the scene, the romance of revolution, the acid.

damikesc said...

I didn't say it was necessarily "good," although I think it can be well argued that, in many ways, it was; I said it was "epochal."

Every decade (well, outside of the 1970's) was "epochal". The others just don't beat people over the head with it.

Every decade had a massive impact on history. Do the 1960's top the 40's? 50's? 80's? 90's? I'd say no on all.

Robert Cook said...

"Do the 1960's top the 40's? 50's? 80's? 90's? I'd say no on all."

40s about even; 50s yes (although they led to the 60s); 70s yes; 80s yes! (The 80s?)

Victor Erimita said...

Anyone who says the Airplane was never ny good, was overrated, etc. either doesn't like the acid rock genre or doesn't know what they're talking about. They were the best live band for my money from 1968 to maybe 1971. A short time to be sure, but they were fabulous. I saw them the first time with The Who in 1969. The Who had just released Tommy, played the hole thing all the way through,mthen I'd all their hits, then smashed all their instruments on stage. They were mind blowing. Then The Airplane came on and just demolished them. And no, I wasn't high.

No good live tapes? Well, are there any tapes that truly capture the live goodness of the Dead? No. Not really. You had to be there live.

Yes, "Volunteers" was preachy, adolescent drek. Starship was...preachy adolescent drek. Then Grace lost her voice and they just fell apart. Norma and Jack went on to long, distinguished careers. Marty's lovely voice never found another worthy outlet. Grace and Paul drank their talent away. And Spence, as drummers do, died.

But for a few shirt years, their live shows were superb.