Bless Its Pointed Little Head
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10
Written by John Metzger
Jefferson Airplane’s concerts were wildly erratic affairs that typically ranged from the cluttered and chaotic to the poignant and powerful — often within the span of just a few minutes. Such was the nature of the group’s democratic approach to music and the tenuous order that often resulted from six strong-willed and opinionated artists, all of whom were trying to outdo one another while traveling down the road to collective enlightenment. In essence, its concerts were a form of performance art, and therefore, plucking tunes out of context in an effort to craft a live album ordinarily was an utter waste of time simply because the magical thread that bound an entire show together would be lost in the process.
This theory held true, at least in part, on Jefferson Airplane’s first concert recording Bless Its Pointed Little Head, but from within the jumbled mayhem crept something greater. Recorded over the course of six nights, split evenly among appearances at the Fillmore East and the Fillmore West in the Fall of 1968, the collection sparkles in its recently remastered state, adding further emphasis to the manner in which the original vinyl rendition ever so carefully highlighted Jefferson Airplane in all its resplendent glory. It’s No Secret and 3/5’s of a Mile in 10 Seconds were unleashed at an intensely supersonic speed, and even the hit single Somebody to Love became a ragged and raw blast of punchy funk-rock. Elsewhere, Rock Me Baby was a scorching slice of blues heaven; Fat Angel — the tune by the Scottish-born bard Donovan that paid tribute to the Bay Area ensemble — unraveled at a more relaxed pace, twisting and turning around Jorma Kaukonen’s mind-bending lead guitar; and Bear Melt was a strangely alluring concoction of churning improvisational fury.
The trio of tracks that serve as bonus material on the restored rendition of Bless Its Pointed Little Head were all intended for release on the original album, but due to the time limitations of vinyl, the songs were left on the cutting room floor. Each — from the soft and sweet progressive folk of Today to the hard-charging Watch Her Ride to the hippie anthem Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon — is stellar and augments an already well-rounded collection that concisely capture the precipitous high-wire act that took place at each and every concert that Jefferson Airplane performed.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box