JEFFERSON STARSHIP – Roswell UFO Festival 2009


Sprawled around a nebulous concept of a ‘Sci-Fi Extravaganza’ this overblown 4-CD set was recorded at the UFO Festival, Rosswell, New Mexico, and is a case of never mind the quality, feel the width.

The Jefferson Starship line-up is essentially Paul Kantner and friends, though David Freiberg – the only other member with any real historical legacy – did rejoin them in 2005. For most part the music is an amalgam of 60′s covers with the occasional Starship and Airplane nuggets to keep the die-hard fans happy.

Things get off to a dubious start with a whole disc of rehearsals, almost as if to prove that the band is diligently working towards a high concept.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as Starship is the living residue of a brand name that should have been laid to rest years ago.

The closing ‘Galaxy of E ‘Jam’ eventually arises from a meandering noodle to partially evoke The Dead. It’s an approach they return to later on a cover of ‘Dark Star’.

The album is topped and tailed by rehearsals and soundchecks, with the latter filling all of disc 4.  Who but obsessives would wish to sit through two more rehearsal versions of ‘Space Oddity’ or indeed  the travesty that passes for Cathy Richardson’s soundcheck medley.

In all fairness both Barry Sless on pedal steel and lead guitarist Slick Aguilar try to keep up the standards, as Sless in particular, manages to make his eerie Hawaiian tones sound interesting

Perhaps the one redeeming feature is that Kantner has had the good sense to anchor the band in their Jefferson Airplane folk roots, though that too begs the question as to the use of the Starship name.

And it takes the unlikely guest appearance of folk veteran Jack Traynor and Pete Sears to cement that connection. Along with Tom Constanten, Jack’s solo spot takes us to Track 7, CD2 2 before the band is properly featured, as Traynor joins in with some fine harmony singing on ‘Earth Mother’.

For the most part Cathy Richardson fills in for the long gone Grace Slick and revels in the spotlight on Dino Valenti’s ‘Cowboy On The Run’, which features passionate harmonies and pedal steel. Her predecessor Darby Gould shines on Richard Thompson’s ‘Genesis Hall’, while the best band effort is the extended version of ‘Wooden Ships’, with alternate verses and pedal steel.

But the two attempts at Floyd’s ‘Brain Damage’ frankly sound like a band running on empty. Fans might point to the final flourish, with the west coast jam ‘Your Mind Has Left Your Body’ and Cathy’s brave stab at ‘White Rabbit’, but it’s a belated pay-off that is far better explored on exiting albums from long ago.

Review by Pete Feenstra

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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).

Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)

Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)

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