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Jefferson Starship - 1981 Modern Times



ARTIST: Jefferson Starship
ALBUM: Modern Times
LABEL: Grunt
SERIAL: BZL-13848
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1998, BMG Japan, BVCM-7335

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Mickey Thomas, Grace Slick - lead vocals, Craig Chaquico - guitars * Paul Kantner - guitars, vocals * Pete Sears - keyboards, bass * David Freiberg - keyboards, bass * Aynsley Dunbar - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Find Your Way Back * 02 Stranger * 03 Wild Eyes * 04 Save Your Love * 05 Modern Times * 06 Mary * 07 Free * 08 Alien * 09 Stairway To Cleveland

WEBLINKS: www.jeffersonstarshipsf.com


Background
Retaining all of the line-up from the previous excellent LP 'Freedom At Point Zero', the band 'introduced' Grace Slick, returning as co lead vocalist. What was that all about? lol! Anyway, 'Modern Times' is a vastly underrated album in the chapters of the Jefferson back-catalogue. Admittedly it's more about Foreigner, Journey and Kansas than anything else, and highlighted within that framework, should be worthy of a reconsideration by many. I didn't really follow though on JS's output after 'Freedom..', not catching up with the band until 1984's 'Nuclear Furniture'. That was a bit silly of me, as the two albums 'Modern Times', 'Winds Of Change' and Grace Slick's two solo albums are well worth hearing.


The Songs
'Modern Times' certainly has some magical moments onboard. Much of it is comparable to the previous album 'Freedom At Point Zero', so that can only mean good things right? It sure does. The pairing of Thomas and Slick is a good one. In fact, it's the first time they teamed up, of course they would dominate radio in 1985 with their 'We Built This City' efforts. 'Find Your Way Back' cements JS's ranking in the AOR scene, long gone are reminders of their psychedelic origins, with tinkling synths and big vocal harmonies all over. 'Stranger' takes on a darker hue, and we hear Grace taking the lead vocal. It has a modern touch (well for 1981 at least). 'Wild Eyes' is a memorable event, with virtual pockets of melody exploding throughout. However, for me, the albums best moment is the 6 minute epic 'Save Your Love', the last segment of the song is astounding, with Chaquico's guitarwork totally on fire. He climaxes this song in much the same way he did on 'Awakening' from 'Freedom..'.

By contrast, the title song 'Modern Times' is a brief two and half minute excursion, though full of energy and excitement. Taking a back-seat breather, 'Mary' slows things up, but the song is still an interesting shuffle with Thomas' falsetto at the forefront. 'Free' is perhaps the beefiest track here, Chaquico turns it up to 11, his solos go ballastic at the 2.30 minute mark, and by the 3.20 point he's on his way! It's all pomp and power on 'Alien'. A big pulsing synth parp sets the scene, sort of like an Emerson Lake And Palmer burst of prog intensity.The way this song unravels makes it the most interesting addition to the album, bar none. We just made it past the most interesting song only to make it to the most energetic and wackiest. 'Stairway To Cleveland' has the indelible hand of Paul Kantner all over it. By now, most JS fans will know what I mean.. lol!


In Summary
There are some great tracks here. I really enjoyed most of it, and I'm sure most fans of JS will too. For some it may be difficult to get past the shadow cast upon it by 'Freedom At Point Zero', but once seen in its own light, there are some gems to be found.


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Comments
#1 | gdazegod on October 05 2014 06:16:43
Jefferson Starship - 1981 Find Your Way Back
YouTube Video:
#2 | gdazegod on October 05 2014 06:19:36
Jefferson Starship - 1981 Save Your Love
YouTube Video:
#3 | AOR Lee on October 06 2014 05:41:13
An incredible AOR album, and I agree with George on Save Your Love being an absolute standout. That Chaquico solo has always mesmerized me. I can do without Stairway To Cleveland (lol) but the rest is essential guitarkeyboards
#4 | Jez on October 06 2014 19:04:40
After the mega album that was 'Freedom At Point Zero' (one of my desert island discs) I remember being a little dissapointed with this at the time. Listening now, this is still patchy in places (especially the second half), but it does contain 2 Jefferson Starship classix in 'Find Your Way Back' and the awesome 'Save Your Love' (Craig Chaquico's guitar on this one is breathtaking) - worth buying for those 2 alone.
#5 | Eric on October 12 2014 19:37:08
Always thought the sleeve was awesome.
#6 | jefflynnefan on October 26 2014 19:30:19
Didn't Craig Chaguico release some new age guitar solo cds or something like that? Are they worth checking out?
#7 | jeffrey343 on October 27 2014 00:22:50
Chaquico did release several smooth jazz albums that are quite good if you like that style. They are a little more new-agey than a lot of smooth jazz material. Kinda like the Neal Schon albums, but less rocking. If you can stream some of them, you might find some that you like. I tend to pick and choose from among that material of his.
#8 | gdazegod on October 27 2014 05:23:47
Acoustic Highway from 1994 is particularly good.
#9 | Eric on October 27 2014 21:55:49
Heard a couple Chaquico solo's but none of them stuck to me, like so many other Narada, Windham Hill, American Gramophone releases... Great guitar player though-wow.
#10 | super80boy on February 28 2015 17:01:44
Always loved and still do, the leadoff single 'Find Your Way Back'. 'Stranger' is another interestingly dark cut. The original vinyl version comes as a nice package with an embossed front/back cover, a colorful gatefold jacket and thick cardboard inner sleeve with lyrics and pictures of Grace.
 
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