Songs You May Have Missed #185


Jefferson Starship: “Love Too Good” (1978)

When I was a lad my dad’s living room stereo was generally off-limits to us kids. The sounds of the Tijuana Brass or Bert Kaempfert or Olivia Newton-John would play from this, our home’s “main stage” music source, while if I wanted to listen to my Steely Dan and Elvis Costello albums I usually had to–and preferred to–listen from the “second stage” of my bedroom record player.

But the day in ’78 when I came home with Jefferson Starship’s Earth LP, I felt that I was holding a record that deserved main stage status. Maybe the lush, classy, textured cover art made it feel living room-worthy. Or possibly I knew the music (I’d already heard the rich harmonies of “Count On Me” and “Runaway” on the radio) might actually appeal to my dad’s almost-AOR sensibilities. Or maybe I just knew the lyrics wouldn’t offend him (My Aim is True was the previous album I’d brought home–it went straight second stage, closed bedroom door).

But for whatever reason, for the first time I asked my dad if he’d mind me playing my latest music purchase on his prized 4-speaker system, and to my mild surprise he consented.

Grace Slick, Marty Balin, Paul Kantner and company didn’t let me down. The first notes out of those speakers were every bit as classy as the album art had hinted. Track one was “Love Too Good”.

Some songs were just perfectly suited to be an album’s lead track. This song’s unhurried one-minute instrumental intro made it just such a track. (Original vinyl copies of the Jefferson Starship Gold compilation trimmed this intro, effectively robbing the song of its laid-back groove.) Slick’s vocals literally fade in at almost precisely the one minute mark. To this day I listen every time to note the exact moment her voice becomes audible–it’s too smooth to discern.

Sadly for me, this was the last album by my favorite lineup of the band; Slick and Balin would be gone for the next year’s Freedom At Point Zero, and the Mickey Thomas era (shudder) began. Soon they’d be making music completely bereft of subtelty under the one-word Starship moniker. Grace Slick returned to the band in ’82 but Kantner left in ’84, etc. etc. You know how these things always go.

Earth, and “Love Too Good” mark a place in time that couldn’t last. When the keyboards take the song into quasi-jazz territory, especially in the outro, I can’t help but think: This is the sound of a confident band standing atop more than a decade’s worth of accomplishments and acclaim. They had nothing to prove in terms of rock credibility. At the height of punk rock’s influence, they’d make jazzy living room AOR if they felt like it. And apparently they did.

And my dad never complained about the music on that day. And that was the highest compliment he could give.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lois
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 14:33:55

    Jefferson – wonderful…. and Grace Slick, my all-time favourite female singer!


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