Grace Slick - vocals, organ; Marty Balin - vocals, tambourine; Paul Kantner - guitar, vocals; Jorma Kaukonen - guitar, vocals; Jack Casady - bass; Spencer Dryden - drums
This run of shows represents one of the first Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead excursion outside the United States. Bill Graham financed the presentation of these two seminal San Francisco bands for a week of shows at Toronto's O'Keefe Center. On this last day of the run, both early and late shows were performed. This recording is Jefferson Airplane's afternoon show which is relatively short but features an excellent performance.
By August of 1967, Grace Slick had been fully integrated into the band and her confidence level had dramatically increased since her initial shows in late 1966. She was quickly becoming the visual focal point - as well as an icon - of the San Francisco music scene. The band's sound was changing as well, heading in a far more experimental direction. The sessions for their most challenging and exploratory album, After Bathing at Baxter's, were still in progress, and the heavy psychedelic flavor of those sessions was permeating the sound of the group's live performances.
This afternoon set begins appropriately enough, with the band's current hit single "Somebody To Love." While played very close to the studio arrangement, it's apparent that a new, heavier sound is beginning to emerge in this version. Casady's bass playing and Kaukonen's guitar techniques are becoming more aggressive and distinctive. Kaukonen's "She Has Funny Cars" exemplifies this further before the band ventures into new material.
These are possibly the earliest surviving live recordings of "Two Heads" and "Young Girl Sunday Blues" in existence - two songs that would be featured on the Baxter's album later that year. "Two Heads," one of Slick's earliest original contributions to the group, reveals her gift for writing intriguing lyrics that work on multiple levels; it's fascinating hearing both of these songs in their early, embryonic states.
Donovan's homage to San Francisco, "Fat Angel" - with its summary line "Fly Jefferson Airplane, gets you there on time" - is up next. Here, the band is at their most exploratory, and each instrumentalist gets an opportunity to stretch out into a relaxed, spacey groove. The set ends with Kaukonen and Casady fronting the band for a bluesy romp through "Come Back Baby," a song that, years later, would become standard electric Hot Tuna material.
This set, compared to shows less than a year prior, shows a significant shift in the power factions of the band beginning to take place. While Balin's voice is still a crucial element to the group's overall sound, Slick is clearly coming into her own and the team of Kaukonen and Casady are now shaping the overall sound of the band.
Written by Alan Bershaw