I was wondering if John knew about this one. I found it in a local shop here and just had to pick it up for my companion as she almost certainly attended the gig as a teenager. It came out in 2010 on Sony so therefore is not a bootleg - although it sounds like one. Subtitled "Signe's Farewell", it is a recording of Signe Anderson's last performance with the band. I daresay it was made on a reel to reel with a microphone slung over the balcony. The quality is serviceable but not professional. The band are endearingly enthusiastic but equally unprofessional. Skip Spence has departed the drum seat to make way for Spencer Dryden. The only musician who really sounds like he knows what he's doing is Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady has yet to find his style and Paul Kantner's 12 string drifts further and further out of tune as the show progresses (as 12 strings are wont to do). Signe and Marty Balin sing like their lives depend on it. They do material from the first and second albums along with a hilariously inept highschool band version of "Midnight Hour". Charming, if you like.
The best track is a version of Donovan's "Fat Angel" - which also features on their "official" live album of a couple of years later ("Bless It's Pointed Little Head"). The later version, having been played in thoroughly, is an accomplished exercise in psychedelic dynamics but this is just a joyful splurge. In it is all the hope and excitement and keen anticipation of the time. There's the message-in-a-bottle from a very distant age.
Nice piece. I bought a Best Of JA last year just cause I wanted to hear a few of their hits. When Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings played the final encore of their London show in October they launched into White Rabbit - I laughed (in a nice way as it kind of suited their pastoral doom psych folk) and Helen said "I don't know this one" and I explained about JA - she had never heard of them. Which is kind of understandable as they have been largely forgotten - no one genuflects over them as they do The Doors of Love or Janis J. Is this coz they never made a good album? Or they became such an awful corporate soft rock band? And Grace Slick turned into an embarassing advertisement for the Sixties at their worst? Anyway, that album sounds fun.
Oh, I think they did make at least one good album. It's a matter of opinion but I'd say "Crown Of Creation" was their best. "Surrealistic Pillow" is probably the most archetypal. The first, "Takes Off", is lovely if you like that kind of thing (which of course I do) - a perfect snapshot of West Coast folk-rock turning a bit weird around the edges as the acid kicks in.
I also heard a lovely version of "White Rabbit" by Greek singer Kristi Stassinopoulou before she played live on one of Charlie's radio shows. Unfortunately, she only did it as a warm up, and not on air. It's one of those songs: you either know it because you were there, wished you had, or felt you ought to have been.
I bought "Signe's Farewell" when it came out a couple of years back - one of a series of Jefferson Airplane live recordings (probably recorded by Bill Graham, I would imagine), some of which I recently saw reduced to £3 each in FOPP. It's an enjoyable listen I think - particularly moving when Signe's departure is announced, prior to her singing her feature 'Chauffeur Blues' one final time.
The early J.A. albums still sound good to me, but things began to go wrong after Paul Kantner took control of the group away from Marty Balin I thought (long before 'We Built This City'). Now, apart from their aging admirers, they're mainly remembered for 'White Rabbit' it seems; - they never had the post-career boost that "Apocalypse Now" gave to the Doors.