BY GREG PTACEK
Airplane Players Take
Aim At Each Other
efore there was a Starship, even be-
fore there was a Jefferson Starship,
there was a Jefferson Airplane-the
seminal '60s band that was spawned
during the halcyon days of San Francisco's Flow-
er Power movement.
Well, there's no love lost between two of the
band's original members and one-time lovers
themselves, Paul Kanter and Grace Slick. Kanter
has filed a lawsuit against Slick, claiming she ille-
gally taped telephone conversations they had
and played them for others in the music industry,
which violates California law.
Slick already hasa suit pending against Kanter,
who she claims has deprived her of her half-own-
ership in the infamous Jefferson Airplane resi-
dential headquarters in San Francisco. The 18-
room Victorian mansion, which along with the
Fillmore Auditorium was the most visible archi-
tectural symbol of the psychedelic movement,
was recently sold for nearly $700,000 to a rel-
gious cult. The halcyon daze continue .
The Kantner-Balin-Casady band recently re-
leased its first album; Slick, of course, still con-
fronts Starship. Despite their differences, Slick's
attorney says "There still is a lot of love there"
You can see the product of their love these days
on MTV where China Slick, their daughter,
serves as a VJ.
Save Those Granny
The Sixties are Back!
The sounds of the Sixtien returned with
a vengeance in '86. During the sum-
mer alone there were more neo-psy-
chedelic bands, covers of '60s pop
songs, touring oldsters and reissues of songs
than you can shake a stick at.
Witness: The original Monkees, minus Mi-
chael Nesmith, performed on a sold-out, nation-
wide concert tour and produced a hit single and
video. Bananarama went to number one with a
remake of "Venus,' by the '60s Dutch band,
Shocking Blue. Another Brit band, Dr. & the
Medics, went to number one in England with the
remake of "Spirit in the Sky,'" by '60s artist Nor-
In addition, the Beatles'''Twist and Shout"re-
entered the Top 40 more than 20 years after its
release, after receiving national exposure in the
film soundtracks to Back to School and Ferris
Bue/yer's Day Off. Ben E. King's career was re-
vived after the song he wrote and sang in the
early Sixties became the title and theme for Rob
Reiner's surprise hit film of the summer, Stand
By Me. And Eddie Money scored his biggest hit
in three years with a song co-sung and inspired
by Ronnie Spector, former wife of Phil and ex-
lead singer of the ultimate '60s girls group, The
Ronnettes. Summer was definitely poppin'
Industry observers are at a loss to explain the
sudden surge of interest in the Sixties sounds.
Revival tours, such as the Turtles ''Happy To-
gether" series of concerts and Fabian's perenni-
al battle of the '60s bands, have been traveling
around the country for years. One movie music
supervisor believes the trend was in fact sparked
by the spate of summer films that featured music
of that famous era.
Interestingly, record surveys show that the
'60s obsession-which some believe is respon-
sible for the popularity of such neo-paisley bands
as R.E.M., the Del Lords, the Bangles and Three
O'Clock-is equally divided between the 30-40
year olds who grew up with music and teens-to-
20 year olds who are tuning in and turning on to
the Sixties sounds for the first time.
Rock 'N' Roll Vs.
he censorship of rock music, an issue
many had hoped ended with the con-
clusion of Congressionalihearings on
the subject, continued to generate
headlines in '86.
While the Washington Wives group led by Tip-
per Gore-the impetus behind the censorship
movement-took a backseat this year, others
moved into the spotlight to claim a little fame.
The Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, a TV evangelist and,
ironically, the cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis, is credit-
ed for pressuring several major retail chains to
drop music magazines from their newsstands.
In fact, one magazine, Canadian-based Hard
Rock, seems to have folded because of attacks
by television fundamentalists. Several regional
wholesalers in Wisconsin, Ohio and West Virgin-
ia refused to distribute the magazine's Septem-
ber issue, which featured on the cover speed-
metal queen Wendy 0. Williams in a leather bikini
and a centerfold of porn star Seka with Motley
Crue. Is rock too hot to handle?
But, not all the censorship came from half-
baked boob tube preachers. No less a pillar of
mainstream respectability than Tom Bradley,
Mayor of Los Angeles, was responsible for one
of the most blatant bans on music this year. New
York rap group Run-D.M.C. was scheduled to
headline at the massive annual Los Angeles
Street Scene outdoor fair in September. Howev-
er, they were prohibited from playing because of
gang violence that had disrupted a concert by
the rap masters in the Los Angeles area the pre-
vious month. Run-D.M.C. denounced the gang
activity at that concert and, quite rightfully,
pointed out that their lyrics, like those of most
rap bands, are against violence.
The recent attacks on rock music and maga-
zines prompted the formation of a new organiza-
tion called Music In Action. Founded by the man-
ager of the Scorpions, PR executive Howard
Bloome and'Spin publisher, Bob Guccione, Jr.,
the group plans to organize boycotts and to pick-
et stores that buckle under to censorship by re-
moving rock records and magazines from their
shelves. They'll also screen political candidates
and support those who uphold free speech in
rock. Big Brother beware.
At least one ultra-right critic of rock has taken
an "if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em" attitude to-
ward rock censorship. Wally George, a conser-
vative syndicated television talk show host, re-
turned this year to the stage after a 20-year
absence. In his former life in the '60s, he used to
lead a popish teen group called Wally George
and the Hollywood Twisters. Now he's backed
by a surf-rock group called Sound Wave, playing
peppy pro-American tunes.
the multinational musical con-glamourates of
this world, 'cause the per-unit manufacturing
cost of the average cassette is 25 cents less
than its LP counterpart. Let's see . . . a gold al-
bum sells 500,000 copies; 300,000 times
$.25 is something to keep in mind next time you
hear the record companies whine about all the
money they're losing from home taping.
B-sides the point: Even those who are not
dyed-in-the-Pendleton fans of John Fogerty will
want to pick up on the non-album flipside of his
recent "Eye of the Zombie" 45. Titled, "I Con-
fess," it's a screaming, white-hot gospel-rocker
that goes through at least three distinct rhythm
changes on its wayto glory-glory.
Serious as a Haute Attack: When you get
right down to the real nitty-gritty, eccentrically-
coiffed British pinup boys have been selling
America's good ol'-fashioned red, white and
black music right back to the Colonies ever since
the halcyon daze of JohnPaulGeorgeandRingo.
Usually, the Brits let it age at least a decade, by
which time the U.S. black music market is inter-
ested in something else entirely. But lately, blue-
eyed Anglo soul brothers from Robert Palmer
to Simply Red have taken to raiding the Cultural
Warehouse for such respective recent U.S.
chartbusters as "I Didn't Mean to Turn You
On," the merely six-month-old Cherrelle smash
(written and produced by ex-Time members Jim-
my Jam and Terry Lewis); and "Money'$ Too
Tight to Mention," an '82 hit for the Valentine
Brothers that first surfaced on the Bridge label. In
the inimitable mumble of that great American,
Sly Rocky Rambo, "Yo! Know yuh kulcha!"
teasnhile, Bauk lapthe States: Recent hit
black records that no self-respecting Caucasian
should be without include Oran "Juice"
Jones' bizarre, deadpan ballad of domestic vio-
lence, "The Rain" (Def Jam); veteran funkar-
toonists Cameo's finally-someone-got-a-hit-
out-of-this-expression, booty-buster "Word
Up" (Atlanta Artists) and Gwen Guthrie's so-
cio-logical, duel guitar throwdown ''Ain't
Nothin' Goin' on But the Rent" (Polydor). Guth-
rie, incidentally, is noted for having co-written
Ben E. King's 1975 comeback hit, "Supernatu-
ral Thing" (Atlantic), a sinewy, guitar-driven disc
that's simply one of the best records of its, or
any other, decade.
_ om-Stalgla, Parts 1 and 2: Speaking of
Ben E. King, he's back on the charts with his
original recording of "Stand By Me" (Atco), a
great record no matter what decade you buy it.
Same goes for the Beatles' "Twist and Shout"
(Capitol), likewise back from the dead zone via
the hit motion picture route. Like my old runnin'
buddy Phast Phreddie-the world's hippest
man-always says sometimes, "New music is
anything you haven't heard before." Meanwild,
'86 continues to be an exceptional year for reis-
sues, headed by the New York Dolls' uproari-
ous Night of the Living Dolts (Mercury) LP, a
"greatest non-hits" package that had inexplica-
bly been hitherto unavailable domestically for
Acoustricks: Following the collapse of his ill-
starred rock group, The Plimsouls, Peter Case
broke out his trusty acoustic guitar, strapped on
his rusty harmonica holder and spent the last
couple of years bumming around the country
performing as a solo artist. Incredibly, Geffen Re-
cords, which still had Case under contract, let
him record some of his new solo material and,
perhaps even more incredibly, released an al-
bum's worth of it. Titled Peter Case, the disc
contains at least a half-dozen "songs of sin and
salvation"-Case's description-that scrupu-
lously avoid the precious and twee pitfalls asso-
ciated with such projects.
Madonna-manial: Regarding the reprehen-
sible sentiments of "Papa Don't Preach," in
which Lil' Miz Catholic Damage counsels keep-
ing one's illegitimate child without a clue as to
how her teenage heroine intends to support the
child, we are reminded of tiny sex therapist Dr.
Ruth's famous interview with Cyndi Lauper,
which, crudely paraphrased, went something
like this: "So, Cyndi, your song "She-Bop," is
about female masturbation, no? I think that's
very good. But maybe next time you should do a
song about contraception" .. .
Final Thoughts: Whether it's Elvis Presley
swiveling his hips, Pete Townsend smashing his
guitar or Iggy Pop smearing himself with peanut
butter, the classic images of rock'n' roll all come
out of live performances.
While these days it seems as if any eccentri-
cally coiffed art school dropout with a Casio and
a beat box can make a hit record, when it comes
to playing live, very few of these acts can back
A prime example is The Cars, who burst out of
obscurity-actually, Boston-several years
back with what would become a string of smash
singles, yet had almost no reputation even in
their hometown, mostly because on stage the
band was-and is-about as exciting as watch-
ing Astroturf grow.
On the other finger, one-time El Lay fave-
raves, the Plimsouls, who never once left the
stage without having first reduced the entire au-
dience to a spent and throbbing heap of ecto-
plasm, never could distill that same 151-proof
spirit down to where it'd stick to a reel of mag-
netic tape. Which is also why the Plimsouls have
departed to that great fillin' station in the sky.
Nevertheless, there are a number of perform-
ers who've been able to sustain careers strictly
on the basis of their live shows. These tend to be
acts that specialize in gimmicky, work 'em up 'n'
move 'em out, guaranteed audience response
routines: lengthy bar-walking solos, mindless
synchronized choreography, gratuitous knee-
jerkcheerleading ("Hello, Cleveland!") and simi-
lar perversions too vile to mention.
No one's saying an act shouldn't perform its
hit(s), in something resembling a reasonable ap-
proximation of the original recording(s). But any-
one who goes to a club or concert expecting to
hear a mere, note-for-note duplication of a 24-
track, digitally-mastered disc would be better off
just staying at home and playing the record. *
Don Wallerris the author of The Motown Story
(Scribner's, 7985) andhas written voluminously
y on the subject ofpopmusic for thelast elebenty-