New York City 1975. The city is teetering on bankruptcy, mere months away from President Ford's infamous "Drop dead" speech. And over 100,000 well-lubricated fans attend a free concert by Jefferson Starship in Central Park. What could go wrong?
Actually, unless you were a tree, not much (a constant theme of the concert is threats by the police and park staff to shut down the show unless fans get out of the trees, and the Starship and the concert sponsor, WNEW-FM, had to pony up for park repairs after the event). This is the Starship on the eve of the release of Red Octopus, mere months away from ascending commercial heights never attained by the Airplane, and the band is absolutely on fire there s a reason this concert ranks among the most treasured bootlegs in Airplane or Starship tape collector circles. And speaking of tape collectors, for this first-ever legitimate release we have worked with a tape provided by the band and filled in some gaps (including the long-lost ending of "Volunteers") with recordings contributed by collectors to present the complete show on two CDs mastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios (minus some of the incessant exhortations to get out of the trees). The material ranges from songs off of their debut Dragonfly ("Ride the Tiger," "Caroline") to tunes from the forthcoming Red Octopus ("Play on Love," "Fast Buck Freddie" ) to Airplane faves "White Rabbit," "Somebody to Love" and "Volunteers," performed by the early Starship line-up of Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Marty Balin, David Freiberg, Craig Chaquico, Pete Sears, John Barbata and Papa John Creach. The Kantner-Slick-Balin vocal dynamics have rarely been better than on this recording, and guitarist Chaquico particularly shines; it being the '70s, there are also long drum and bass solos and a bit of the anarchic spirit of mid-'70s New York City seeps into the show as well. The scene is captured by professional photographer Allan Tannenbaum (photographer/author of New York in the '70s), who was at the gig and supplies photos (including the cover shot) for this collection, while Richie Unterberger's notes featuring exclusive quotes from Starship pilot Paul Kantner set the stage for the Starship playing the biggest gig imaginable.