San Francisco's Jefferson Airplane created the archetype for a certain style of psychedelic music and in doing so brought two big hits to radio: "Somebody to Love" and the drug-informed "White Rabbit." Both of those showcases for the powerful vocals of Grace Slick are included here along with the yearning Marty Balin vocal "It's No Secret" and a selection of album favorites like "Good Shepherd," "Volunteers," "Plastic Fantastic Lover" and "Wooden Ships." Deeper album cuts are included too and the band gets a little out there with cuts like "Lather" and "Have You Seen the Saucers." The band initially held onto their psychedelic roots when they updated their name to Jefferson Starship, having minor hits with "Caroline" and "Ride the Tiger" but they soon morphed into an arena-rocking juggernaut that racked up hits "Miracles," "With Your Love," "Count on Me," "Jane," "Find Your Way Back" and others. The Essential wraps up with six songs from the Starship version of the band including big hits "We Built This City" and "Sara."
This Scottish band has a penchant for mesmerizing grooves that leave the listener floating in their choice of either outer or inner space. The album's opening cut "Introduction" is an instrumental that conjures images of a medieval people marching into a space/time continuum portal; the song segues into the vocal cut "Hail Bop," an appropriately space-themed and spacey number for a tune that imaginatively derives its title from the famous comet Hale Bopp. There's an Alan Parsons Project feel to much of Django Django as the band favors robotic synth bursts and memorable hooks and has in singer Vincent Neff a vocalist who knows how to enhance the otherworldly tenor of the set with just the right amount of cool detachment in his delivery. Another big plus here is that the band doesn't pile on layer after layer just because they can; still you'll want to eventually hear this one through good headphones.
Six Organs of Admittance
Six Organs of Admittance is guitarist Ben Chasny and members of Comets on Fire and they open Ascent with the rocking surf/psych instrumental "Waswasa" before moving into the slow, sublime psychedelia of "Close to the Sky." "They Called You Near" is a chant-and-drone number, a suitable soundtrack for bowing down to angels, alien masters, or more likely an acid-induced combination of the two. "One Thousand Birds" takes a basic Crazy Horse-style rocker and drenches it in psychedelia and album closer "Visions (From Io)" proves that they like to trip and chill on Jupiter's favorite moon.
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