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Review of PERRO ASIA in USA
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Sunday, November 1st, 2009
3:54 pm Paul Kantner on Planet Earth and Beyond


Beginning with Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (1966), Paul Kantner has been a main motor behind a series of interrelatedmusical congregations that keep alive an often unlikely legacy. While the names of the ensembles change, one, two, threeor more of the original Jefferson Airplane members keep coming together to record music that sometimes soars as highas Paul Kantnerfs celestial visions. Or, sometimes, as in the last gofficialh Airplane reunion in 1989, Kantner, Grace Slick,Marty Balin, Jack Casady, and Jorma Kaukonen can sound like anarchic bumper cars bouncing into, off of, and away fromeach other?a situation not all that different from the days when their creative direction revolved around which malemember Grace Slick was sleeping with. Pun intended.


After Blows Against the Empire (1970), Paul Kantner became the ringmaster of most of the post-Airplane projects, notincluding, of course, Hot Tuna and the Starship of the gWe Built This Cityh era. Through the years, when Kantner hasbeen center stage, the sound is unmistakably led by his full-throated imagery of stars, mountains, aliens, and dreams.With and without his most famous partners, Grace Slick, Marty Balin, and David Freiberg, Kantnerfs expansive lyrics areusually voiced by rock and roll choirs supported by guitar and keyboard legends from the Airplane family who donft mindtravelling with Paul into science-fiction, sociological commentary, political manifestos, and Eastern religion.


One of the most underappreciated of these projects was the August 1983 Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra, analbum I had only heard once at a friendfs house in the old vinyl format. For years, Ifd been watching for the CD releasebut somehow missed the 2005 re-mastered edition. Finally, after ordering a now rare copy from the Japanese-basedPERRO Records?a label named after this album?I can now attest that Planet Earth is an unusual nugget collectors shouldseek out if Jefferson Starship is a band you either simply admire or, as with many a Kantner fan, adore.


While the album is described as a solo effort, this rather inconsistent and often fragmentary collection takes its namefrom a group of musicians that worked on albums for Graham Nash, David Crosby, and Mickey Hart. One highlight, "Mountain Song," co-written by Kantner and Jerry Garcia, was dedicated "to David C, Jerry G, Graham N, Grace S,David F, Billy K and Mickey H and to one summer when all of our schedules almost didn't conflict." Another standout,gCircle of Fire," was recorded originally for the


Jefferson Starship album, Winds of Change and features the lineup of JS at the time?Kantner, Grace Slick (who providesa healthy body of vocal here), Scott Mathews, Mickey Thomas, and David Freiberg. Airplane alum Jack Casady providesbass for the entire album along with Craig Chaquico (lead guitar), Pete Sears (piano), and Aynsley Dunbar (drums). Guestperformers included producer Ron Nagle (piano), Ronnie Montrose (lead guitar on the albumfs low-point, "(She Is A)Telepath") and Flo & Eddie, not to mention Kantner and Slickfs daughter China singing a very nursery-rimishgDeclaration of Independence.h Oh, and baby Alexander Kantner as well burbling some coos for "Underground."Altogether, this is a rock and roll orchestra indeed.


Admittedly, Planet Earth can be a confusing experience if the listener doesnft know the context. In many ways, PERRO isa sequel to Blows Against the Empire, even carrying the sub-title g"The Empire Blows Back." The music was designed asthe gsoundtrackh to a Paul Kantner SF novel in which a San Francisco band develops telepathic abilities which attractsthe attention of U.S. government agencies. The band escapes to the Australian outback where they set up a new life?well, you can find out about the book at?


"Welcome to PERRO ? Chapter One From the novel "Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestrah by Paul Kantner".


http://www.jeffersonstarshipsf.com


However, even if you know the background, PERRO isnft an obvious concept album as some of the material is etherealinstrumentals that donft carry any plot. Some songs are short fragments that donft explain much either?who is thisLilith in gLilithfs Songh anyway? On itfs own, PERRO doesnft really add up to the sum of all its parts, but rather thelistener can choose which of the parts that suit their tastes. For example, you donft need lyrics to go on theinstrumental trip of "Transubstantiation: Part I: Esperanto / Part II: Science Friction." The introductory track, gPlanetEarth Rock and Roll Orchestrah is as alive and embracing as any of Kantnerfs anthems along with its reprise concludingthe album, gLetfs Go.h Few Jefferson Starship projects were ever first to last track gold, so PERRO is in good company?even if it is difficult to find. More on that below?suffice it to say for now JA/S fans shouldnft miss hearing gCircle ofFireh and gThe Mountain Songh?as worthy of any songs anthologized on all those gbest ofh collections. Perhaps not ashot as gRide the Tiger,h but certainly a step above most of Spitfire and Earth.


Speaking of gThe Mountain Song,h that was the first offering on the DVD of Jefferson Starship Live at Soiled Dovereleased On April 7, 2009, an acoustic set filmed in 2003. Itfs not a real JS concert in the sense of there being anyoriginal members on stage beyond Kantner himself. Instead, this stripped-down band?with no drummer?featured Kantnerfs touring ensemble of Slick Aguilar (lead guitar), Chris Smith (keyboards), and as good as stand-in for Grace Slick as youcan find, Gospel-flavored vocalist Diana Mangano. This club date was more evocative of the Airplane than Starship withKantner and Mangano belting out gWooden Ships,h gWhite Rabbit,h gSomebody to Love,h and gBallad of Me and You andPooneil.h Kantnerfs first Starship outing, 1970fs Blows Against the Empire, is represented by gThe Baby Treeh and mostof the starship high jacking suite. The rest of the concert is mainly pleasant folk ballads held together by Kantnerfsflowing rhythm guitars and Manganofs soaring, wailing Slick imitations.


On one level, this concert makes this old Airplane/Starship lover yearn for a more full-blown Kantner extravaganza, buton another itfs good to hear a more folk/rock setting, taking Kantner back to the roots of his original band. Itfssometimes a bit disconcerting to hear gWhite Rabbith and gSomebody to Loveh sung by a different lady without drummerDanny Baldwin to back her, but then again this concert took place in a more intimate atmosphere than some Areana orstadium, making this performance certainly something special for those who were there and a rather gentle, surprisingexperience for those of us who wish we had been. PERRO and this live performance are very different animals, togethershowing the spectrum of Paul Kantnerfs musical and philosophical interests.


The live DVD is available from a wide variety of outlets?however, the few remaining copies of Planet Earth Rock and RollOrchestra can only be found via Masahiro Yoshidafs Japanese PERRO label. Contact info: bettergeneration@xf6.so-net.ne.jp

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Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

8:10 pm Paul Kantner's Starship flying over Tokyo


A month or so ago, I mentioned in passing to Karl Anderson (President of Global Recording Artist) that one rarity Ifdlove to have a copy of is Paul Kantnerfs Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra. Karl connected me with MasahiroYoshida who, Karl said, had only 8 copies of the CD available from his company in Japan.


In short order, I contacted Masahiro and placed my order for PERRO from a label called?PERRO-Asia. Wondering why aJapanese record company would be named after an obscure disc from a California musician and his friends, I askedMasahiro what the story was. He wrote:


gMr. Paul Kantner is my No.1 Hero. I dreamed of his tour of Japan for a long time. At last, Jefferson Starship JapanTours were realized in 1994 and 1999. I enjoyed all the shows in Tokyo, I met Mr. Kantner at the back stage. I had reallydreamy days. Several years passed, and Paul's masterpiece "Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestrah album was issued asa digital- remastered CD for the first time in 2005. I was chosen by Paul and the merchandising staff of the band as adistributor in Japan and Asia. Although it was the first experience for me, I decided to take up the challenge immediately.And I named my label PERRO ASIA.


gNow I distribute Paul's PERRO, Jefferson Starship's DVD, many titles of Gary Duncanfs Quicksilver, and titles from thelegendary Funk Lady-Gail Muldrow. Many music fans love the past masterpieces, but I thought many legendary musiciansstill continue to progress and are playing an active part in the present progressive form. I'm thinking that I would like totell that to many music fans, so I am planning to sell unique works here in Asia and I have the stock to sell overseas aswell.h

y Catalogz

Paul Kantner
PLANET EARTH R&R ORCHESTRA 2005- Remaster

JEFFERSON STARSHIP
Live at Soiled Dove DVD-2003

Gary Duncan/Quicksilver
Strange Trim
Live at Sweet Water
Live at the 7th Note
Live '07
Six String Voodoo
Shape Shifter Vol.3
Shape Shifter Vol.4

GARY DUNCAN with Crawfish of Love
Snake Language

Gail Muldrow
Cleen Spirit

The next planned release - Jerry Miller's latest record


(Remember, Karl Andersonfs Global Recording Artists label has many of these titles as well?but not Planet Earth Rockand Roll Orchestra. As Ifm waiting for my copy, Ifll refrain from commenting on it until I can post a full-blown review. Doknow ordering from Japan using Paypal requires translating dollars to yen?which isnft difficult as the site walks youthrough the boxes you need to click. Oh, PERRO goes for around $27.00, including air mail.)



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