Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Friday, January 6, 2012

DVD: Marty Balin ~ Live At The Boston Esplanade, June 14, 2008

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: classic rock
Label: MVD Entertainment
Year: 2009
Home: California

Concert location: Boston, Massachusetts
Year Recorded: 2008
Length: n/a

Bonus Features: interviews with Marty Balin, Signe Anderson, Craig Fenton, Jeff Tamarkin; live tracks: "Do It For Love", "Somebody To Love", "Summer Of Love", "Today", "Shaping The Night", "Somehow The Tired Reach Home", "Count On Me", "Later On"

Members: Marty Balin ~ lead vocals/rhythm guitar/percussion
Mark "Slick" Aguilar ~ lead guitar/b. vocals
Didi Stewart ~ vocals
Donnie Baldwin ~ drums
Gordon Gebert ~ keyboards/b. vocals
David Trupia ~ bass


In order to discuss MB's first solo DVD it's necessary to give a little history lesson. In 1965 a San Francisco folksy-hippie band was formed by 23 year old pop singer MB that would be known as Jefferson Airplane. With him was folk musician Paul Kantner & singer Signe Anderson, who would leave after one album to be replaced by Grace Slick. In 1971 MB left the band feeling isolated from their new & changing musical directions & wanting to pursue a non-drug/alcohol laden lifestyle, the opposite of his bandmates, which was beginning to take the lives of his friends such as Janis Joplin. Jefferson Airplane continued until 1972 ... though by then it was a shadow of itself & solo projects abounded including the Planet Earth Rock & Roll Orchestra that debuted a year earlier with Airplane members Kantner, Slick & bassist Jack Casady performing with David Crosby, Graham Nash & members of the Gradeful Dead. In 1973 Kantner & Slick turned the Orchestra into Jefferson Starship with later Airplane members filling out the line-up. MB would join the band during their commercially successful years. Slick would leave only to return in 1981 for their final three albums & help bring the band visibility on MTV even after the commercial hits were few. They have the distinction of being one of the first bands to utilize online technology to gather a large fanbase. Kantner left in 1984, the only remaining founding member of Airplane, suing his ex-bandmates for the name & thus one word Starship was born. They'd churn out the often quoted hit "We Built This City" amongst others. Slick left in 1988 for an Airplane reunion before retiring permanently from music. At this point, with a young & essentially new line-up, Starship came under the control of Slick's Jefferson Starship replacement Mickey Thomas who continues to tour the group as Starship Featuring Mickey Thomas. In 1992 Kantner formed Jefferson Starship - The Next Generation which regularly featured past members, even vocalist Signe Anderson, before removing the second part of the Star Trek inspired name. MB joined them for a decade before going full time into a solo career in 2003. Jefferson Starship continues to tour with Kantner at its helm with some members from earlier line-ups & some new faces. Having delved into all that this MB solo DVD is marketed as the "ultimate fan package". It's definetly for hardcore fans as few others will be interested in suffering through low production values & a small collection of rock classics by a 66 year old MB who is far more enjoyable heard versus seen. But, the question must be asked - fans of who? Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship, Kantner's reunited Jefferson Starship or MB solo? It doesn't help that the set-list is light on MB solo tracks aiming for the more well known catalogs of his past bands. It should be mentioned that drummer Donnie Baldwin was in Jefferson Starship in the 80's rejoining in 2005 alongside guitarist Mark "Slick" Aquilar who joined in the 90's. One would be hardpressed to possibly consider this a partial Jefferson Starship reunion as MB is given the full spotlight. Its obvious the band is holding back some energy to not offset their charasmatic-less frontman who looks ready for retirement & spends too much energy pushing back his not so long gray hair & looking a bit intimidated at the large audience before him but who is, after all, the founding member of Airplane that has given them all jobs. MB was always the short guy in the background who took second billing to the female singers only to step up occasionally with a few self-penned love ballads. Fronting a rock band is not really his forte. It doesn't help that the production is of low quality with sloppy camera movements, including moving from a stable camera to a jerking one, with none in a great location & never giving a full view of the band. The poor recording becames quite obvious during the chorus of the lost classic country ballad "Count On Me", one of the best songs for MB's voice, when the band stops but the audience is so far away to be inaudible & the result is a band with no music. Essentially, this is nostalgia through the roof with one of the originators of past music doing what he's always done while the band know exactly that nobody is coming to see them & they are in essence a tribute band. You can see bands like this at every community fair across the country & sadly MB isn't turning in any interesting versions of these songs to stand out nor, while he is in good voice, MB never really soars or gives the songs a personal touch. Though, "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" by Canadian songwriter/guitarist Bruce Cockburn is an interesting encore & doesn't just show that MB still clings to the protest hippie ideology but its also of the best songs of the concert given a very different feeling than Cockburn. It's also a common inclusion in his solo concerts. Other highlights include "Volunteers" even if it doesn't exactly have the same social impact that it once did the audience still enjoys dancing to it. Bonus tracks, generally of even worse camera quality, include MB singing "Somebody To Love" ... the first time on a commercial release he's sang lead to this classic. There's also an interview with Signe Anderson & two historians of the Jefferson Airplane legacy. MB is also interviewed in a hotel room & talks about Satya Sai Baba & California falling into the ocean & is everything but what one might expect to hear or want to hear on a music DVD. It's a rambling dialogue of one who appears a bit friend from drugs. Its far from necessary viewing though in some ways the bonus songs, largely acoustic, are at times more interesting than the main concert.

Track listing: 3/5th Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
Runaway
Count On Me
Somebody To Love
Miracles
Hearts
White Rabbit
Volunteers
If I Had A Rocket Launcher
2006 bonus track: Do It For Love
2007 bonus track: Somebody to Love
Summer Of Love
Today
2008 bonus track: Shaping The Night
Somehow The Tired Reach Home
Count On Me
1995 bonus track: Later On



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