CD Review of Sweeping Up the Spotlight: Live at the Fillmore East 1969 by Jefferson Airplane

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Sweeping Up the Spotlight:
Live at the Fillmore East 1969
starstarstarstarno star Label: Legacy
Released: 2007
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Oh wow, man. Hey, you know, like, all those old hippies man, we’re all still grooving like the ‘60s never died, man. Some of us went to Madison Avenue and some fell by the wayside, man, but you know, man, we can all agree on grooving together to those Summer of Love bands, man. Especially the Airplane, man. Man, the Airplane was the only band to survive long enough out of that whole 1967 groove with some integrity…yeah, yeah. Of course, the Starship came to land and take us all on a different trip, but man, that’s another story. So let’s light up a joint and a stick of Nag Champa and just groove to this latest archival…whoa…my mind is blown, it’s hard to use those sorts of words now…release by the Airplane, a classic concert from 1969 at the Fillmore East.

Man, you won’t believe how sharp the sound is on this CD. Man, I really miss vinyl LPs. Can you imagine getting this and seeing…all that artwork super-sized? Not to mention we could clean our grass on it while we were grooving. Yeah, man, can’t really do that on a CD booklet. Far out. Anyway, this is sounding like I’m really back there, man. I would even wager to say this sound is better than that of Bless Its Pointed Little Head, dude it’s that far out. You’re really in the middle of the band with Paul and Jorma and Jack rocking around you and Marty and Gracie just …oh yeah, man…pulling you in to the trip.

Hey, wow. Where was I? Oh yeah, so man, there’s…like this opening. It’s crazy, I dunno what’s being said, but it’s somethin’ funny I think. The crowd digs it and then the band explodes into “Volunteers,” and the Airplane takes off! This is a top notch version of this groover, bringing out a real sparked-up groove to it that isn’t on the studio take. They then slide into the extended earth-jolting “Good Shepherd.” Man, this is where you need to toke a big one if you haven’t yet. Do that, and this song will take you places. And then, and then…there’s “Plastic Fantastic Lover” where Balin just goes really fuckin’ crazy at the end like he’s possessed by a greasy heart…yeah.

Whew. Too much, Jackson. Yeah, but here’s a cool one…”Uncle Sam Blues” as perfected by HOT TUNA, man! Aw man, sometimes I’m torn. That first Hot Tuna album is a gas and I like it a bit more than some of the Airplane stuff, but don’t tell anybody, dude. Shhhh…it’s a secret, okay? Righteous…righteous, and outta-sighteous. Hey, while we’re here talkin’ about this album and diggin’ each other, I wanna mention the special thing here is “You Wear Your Dresses Too Short” at over nine minutes. Supreme.

There’s so much here. Dig it. Another long workout in “The Ballad of You and Me & Pooneil” at over ten minutes…I can lose myself there, man. And hey, what would an Airplane show be without “White Rabbit”? Hearing this band rock like crazy throughout the set, it’s almost quaint to hear this acid tune crop up, as if….as if it was already fading away. Shit. I get a little choked up over that, man. But hell, they rock “Crown of Creation” sky high and close the show with “The Other Side of This Life” for another ten minutes, man. That’s giving the audience something way back when. Yeah.

So I wanna say hey, if you like the Airplane, you will want this one. And if you only sort of like ‘em, but like a really good sound, then maybe you should try it as well, man. You get to hear ‘em here, pure and crazy, before …before…hmm? Oh yeah, before all the changes set in. They turned into a weird and terrible artifact a lot later on through the various Starship things, but…but this is where it’s at. Yeah, man. Dig it.

~Jason Thompson