Windows Of Heaven

Jefferson Starship

CMC International, 1999

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


This is a painful review to write. I mean, really painful; I'm sitting here wanting either a bottle of Jack Daniels or a morphine drip. The definition of 'excruciation' for a music reviewer is when he gets a CD he desperately -wanted- to like...

And then listening to it was a process equivalent to having major dental surgery.

With no anesthetic.

With Roseanne standing on your hands.

First off, there's the unjustness of the fact that there's enough talent in this incarnation of Jefferson <whatever> to run any three rock bands. The core of Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, and Jack Casady is back together for the first time in fifteen years. They added Slick Aguilar, who played with David Crosby for many years, and T Lavitz, an itinerant keyboardist whose credits include time with the Dixie Dregs and Widespread Panic. New lead vocalist Diana Mangano, an utter unknown before her time with the current band, has a decent set of pipes, and indeed is reminiscent of longtime Jefferson * vocalist Grace Slick. In addition, recent comeback miracles by bands like Fleetwood Mac mean that this is a guaranteed formula for success. All those Grecian Formula and Ensure baby boomers have debt loads to spare. So why has this CD sunk without a trace?nbtc__dv_250

Perhaps it is because, o ye shades of the sixties, this CD sucks rocks. I mean, this is -bad-. Bad, bad, bad. -Incredibly- bad. Redolent with badness, gleaming with utter badness, so bad in fact that the EPA should be called to dispose of this CD. Bad. (Did I mention it was bad? I thought I did.)

Within fifteen seconds of hitting play, the first wave hits you. Paul Kantner's voice (I -think- it's Kantner; I can tell it's Marty Balin's voice on other tracks, and this guy isn't him.) hasn't aged well, at all; indeed, if it was wine, I'd use it to clean my baseboards. It croaks and groans along like a half-dead tree in a gale; only occasionally does it have any resemblance to the actual tune of the song. The songs themselves, at least the Kantner-penned ones, range from mediocre to downright ugly, but Kantner's 'singing' sounds more like mating season on the moose ranch.

Marty Balin's -voice- has aged much better. On the other hand, his songwriting hasn't improved since the day he wrote 'I got a taste of the world when I went down on you' ("Miracles", 1978). It still slides oilily along like Leisure Suit Larry on the make, slinging seventies cliches of love and grooviness.

The musicianship of the supporting players is competent to talented. But there's only so much you can do with Kantner's cliche-laden northern-California-radical politics and Balin's stale pickup lines. These two can do better. I -know- they can. But this isn't it.

This CD was...painful to listen to. Somewhere along track 8, "Shadowlands", where Diana Mangano sings soulfully "What am I doing here?", it was all I could do not to respond "Ruining your career..." And by the end, with Mangano wailing something that sounds like Ravi Shankar's psychotic sister, I was in utter emotional shock. Please, save yourself the money. If you want to buy a Jefferson <insert vehicle here> CD, their 1970s and early 1980s catalog, including the excellent Red Octopus, Modern Times, Earth, or Freedom At Point Zero is now available. They're out, they're remastered, they're wonderful. Run from this CD like it has the plague.

Rating: D-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 1999 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International, and is used for informational purposes only.