Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 20. 1972
Paul Kantner — Sunfighter
Paul Kantner a Weatherman? That guy who wrote We can Be Together? Yep, the same P. Kantner, who hijacked Jefferson Airplane off Marty Balin and made it into the thinking man's rock band, writing right on lyrics and tunes you couldn't even whistle; revolutionary, challenging stuff that for all its pretentiousness was the finest American rock music of the Sixties. What makes Kantner's passage from liberalism to wrathful radicalism pretty interesting are the elements he's added to the typical radical stance of the Volunteers L.P.
On Blows Against The Empire he laid down a vision of release, of escape from the pain and ugliness of now.
America hales her crazies, so you got to let go, hijack a starship, make a new world on it, 7000 gypsy wanderers sailing through the cities of the universe... with free minds, free bodies, free dope, free music...
On Sunfighter this escape becomes a flight into nothingness, a real death wish, two songs are for Diana Oughton, one of those rich kids who blew themselves to pieces with their home made bombs a couple of years ago in New York.
sing a song for the children going down
as you cut down your children now
and leave them dying on the grass in the sun.
Other tracks sing about running free with the wolf-pack, flashing down to take the town and its children, of saying finally goodbye to the San Francisco Dream, (remember what we sang in America, how we danced so many years ago?) and welcoming the crazies; the last lines again say goodbye to the earth as we go, go into nova (a nova being a star that self destructs in one glorious burst of energy).
Kantner sings about impotence and rage and the yearning to escape; all part of our growing realisation that the old images of revolution have no meaning for this age, there is no capital city whose conquest will yield victory, no working class ready to rise, we have no precedents in history and can have little confidence in our ability to change an increasingly ruthless, omnipotent establishment. It is clear that America (the country and the idea) is a globel exploiter which must be destroyed so the world can live, and the enemy has become whoever gets in the way. In an inability to strike at the heart of America the movement has turned on immediate, vaguely symbolic objects, buildings, banks, embassies. This rage comes from the realisation that those treasured Western freedoms — free speech, free assembly, a right to privacy, to the process of law, — don't mean shit to most of the public and even less to the Government, for our Western sense of freedom has always had more to do with an urge to individualism as expressed through business, than with the fulfillment of human potential. Moreover have tried to rouse a silent majority that has willingly ceded a monopoly on politics to the government; the people may vote, or not vote, but political action, assembly, a demonstration is wrong, antisocial; good citizens mind their own business, it is held a virtue to let the government take care of things which ordinary citizens cannot hope to understand. This distrust and fear of "Unofficial" political action, political speech and political men as the constituency which authorises by the weight of its silence, the official acts of repression and aggression.
In this climate it is not surprising that Western radicals are perhaps the first revolutionaries to hate their own country and to cut themselves off from its traditions - the death wish that permeates Weatherman ideology and this album is that it is better to die in the streets than to simply fade away, thus we have provocation and suicidal action Amidst all this, Jerry Garcia plays on.
Straight Shooter — James Gang.
Back in 1865 Frank and Jesse James were two members of a relatively successful group called Quantrill's raiders. Leaving Quantrill they formed the James Gang, which began to show great promise, earnt them a lot of money, and was being closely followed by some respected authorities, when in 1881 tragedy struck and Jesse was killed in a shooting incident. This deep loss seemed to shatter the group, and nothing much more was heard of the James Gang until 1969 when Peter Townshend dragged them out of obscurity and took them with the Who on tour in England as his bodyguards, sub-machineguns in guitar cases. The trip was a bummer and once again they disapeared, and apart from one film appearance in Zacchariah (where incidentally the one track they played is the best I've heard from them) haven't been seen again since.
"The world is one big junkie and needs just one big fix Everybody's hustlin' someone trying' to get their kicks Madness, madness When's it gonna go away"
"I'm your kickback man
As you think you wanna go home little girl?
Ah, but you see I can't let you go yet
You ain't goin' nowhere"
"I don't know where I'm goin'
I don't know where I've been"
Reached up to touch my lady, but she wasn't there no more swings into a rocky rhythm, vocalist managing to catch the desperation of the situation and I'm into it and he hits me with a sort of Hey Joe (Hendrix,) switch and I'm floored — this is really quite a good track, even if the music is a (yawn) trifle uninteresting.
Side two achieves a definite lift in musical quality, for which the answer lies, I think, in the inclusion of bassist Dale Peters composing for most of this side. First track here gets away from trash. Track two retains this good ordinary music, (high-pitched voice trying to carry off bad situation badly — Bette Davis slips on a banana skin—giggle from Junior Freaks (—what! still here?) and......
Suddenly I almost fall off ray seat — metaphysical vision — I won't try to explain — but Hendrix hears his train a comin'. These guys are standing on the station waiting for it, and if it don't come they'll walk it — not brilliant, but compared to the rest of the rubbish on this LP., interesting interplay of will-consciousness, self-evaluated metaphysical — wow— I do so hope it wasn't a joke. And so into (under) the last track, and such pretentious crap I'll never pretend to having heard — Dale Peters not credited with this one — My Door is Open — and out hurtles my latest review record.
Jethro Tull : Thick as a Brick
I despair of using words to describe here what I feel must be said about Jethro Tull's music.
Thick as a Brick is Ian Anderson's setting of a poem allegedly written by Gerald "Little Milton" Bostock, aged eight, of St. Cleve. The albums cover is a twelve page issue of the parochial St Cleve Chronical and Linwell Advertiser.
The poem is a long monologue, with several recurring ideas, all arranged around the theme of our unreal social system and its acceptance by the masses. It is written by someone quite obviously on the outside who hurls preconceptions and paradoxes under the feet of those blissfully unaware fools that mouth back excuses for their self-imposed cerebral paralysis:
Come on ye childhood heroes! Won't
you rise up from the pages of your
and show us all the way. Well! Make your
will and testament wont you? Join
your local government. We'll have
superman for president
let Robin save the day.
The style is very evocative, and if you've ever had any doubts about straight life-styles you'll likely find echoes of your thoughts lurking in the deliberately vague text. The fantastic and mystical are present too, usually associated with optimistic ideas of the future:
Do you believe in the day? Do you?
Believe in the day.' the Dawn Creation
of the Kings has begun. Soft Venus
(lonely maiden) brings the ageless one.
which is reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller's "better living through technology" creed.
Your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
which appears to be a message of the album: When you know how much is unknown then you can know what is known.
— Philip Alley
Crazy Horse — Loose
Wherein remnants of Neil Young's old backing group lay down thirteen tracks easily, without fuss or undue haste. The title suits, the whole thing rocks along nicely and simply without pretensions. The tone is generally lighter than the group's first LP, though personnel changes since the latter make comparisons misleading.
The songs are mostly movers, unadorned and with predictable changes throughout.
The melodies are pleasant but for from original and though one is very conscious of influences they're hard to name apart from Crosby, Stills & Nash in All Alone Now which has the same persistent, tinkling guitar and chorus as 49 Bye Byes.