Artist: Paul Kanter & Grace Slick
Musicians:Paul Kantner – vocals, rhythm guitar, Grace Slick – vocals, piano
Jack Traylor – guitar, Jerry Garcia – guitar, Papa John Creach – electric violin, Craig Chaquico – lead guitar, Bill Laudner – vocals, Jack Casady – bass, Spencer Dryden – drums, David Crosby – vocals, Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar, Graham Nash – Arp, vocals, Chris Wing – drums, Pat Gleeson – moog, piano, John Vierra – synthesizer, keyboards, Phill Sawyer – sound effects, Peter Kaukonen – guitar, mandolin, Shelley Silverman – drums, Joey Covington – drums, Edwin Hawkins Singers (Edwin Hawkins, Walter Hawkins, Tramaine Davis Hawkins, Elaine Kelley, Norma J. King, Barbara Gill, Ruth Wyons, Daphne Henderson, Shirley Miller, Eddie Bayers) – vocals on “Sunfighter”, Steven Schuster – flute, saxophone, horn arrangements, Tower of Power (Greg Adams, Mic Gillette) – horns
Producer:Paul Kanter, Grace Slick
Engineer:Pat Ieraci & Phill Sawyer
Sunfighter is a 1971 album created by Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane and judging by the musicians it is basically Jefferson Airplane as nearly all members of the Airplane are involved. The album is the second record released on the Airplane’s own Grunt label, backed by RCA. The album features a picture of their baby daughter, China Wing Kantner on the cover. Many big name Bay Area musicians perform on the album, including members of the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia), Crosby, Stills, and Nash (Graham Nash & David Crosby), and the horn group, Tower of Power. This album was also the first that Jazz guitarist Craig Chaquico performed on; he would become the lead guitarist for Jefferson Starship.
The album originally came with a booklet and I was lucky enough to get a copy of the LP with the booklet still included, an amazing thing seeing that it was a $2 used copy.
The sound of this LP seems to have been recorded at a low-level and guitars seem a bit thin. The record itself is also amazingly thin, like one of those records that used to come in cereal boxes or the kind you sent away for as a kid back in the sixties or something. I don’t know that it has anything to do with the sound though, usually not. That detraction said though the instrumentation and musicianship is top-notch, which is not that surprising considering the fact that Jefferson Airplane consisted of highly skilled musicians and adding the other big names to the list here.
All the songs were written by Paul Kanter and or Grace Slick with the exception of “Titanic”, “Earth Mother ” and “Universal Copernican Mumbles”
1. “Silver Spoon” – This strong opener with Jack Cassady’s feed-back bass and Papa John Creach’s electric violin drive, that show cases Grace Slick’s vocals to the hilt. This song has to be considered among some of her best work. Strong lyrics too.
2. “Diana” – This 52 second ditty features Grace’s vocals with acoustic guitar and piano.
3. “Sunfighter” – The obvious title track here features Grace on lead vocals along with the Edwin Hawkins singers. Great instrumentation on this cut.
4. “Titanic” Phill Sawyer – This is one of the songs, if you can call it that, not written by Paul Kanter or Grace Slick. This two and half-minute ride of torture opens with the sound of ocean waves and then goes into a ships warning with synth that runs the entire track and nothing else. A rather unfortunate inclusion on this LP in my opinion.
5. “Look at the Wood” – This great song about a woodworker starts with acoustic guitar and vocals with electric guitar and drums, etc. coming in later. Good song.
6. “When I Was a Boy I Watched the Wolves” – This suspected “filler” song is a bit more interesting with the time change in it.
1. “Million” – There is an interesting electric guitar effect in this song, which also includes piano, acoustic guitar and synth. I think it’s a song about the level of awareness that was back in the late sixties and related things. That’s my interpretation of it anyway.
2. “China” – This song is about Paul Kanter and Grace Slick’s daughter, China. It’s kind of a jazz ballad featuring piano, bass and acoustic guitar with drums coming in later. Once again Grace’s vocals are showcased here.
3. “Earth Mother” Jack Traylor – Who didn’t see the one coming? This is a good folk rock song with good lyrics as well about guess what.
4. “Diana 2” – This is just a reprise of the 52 second song from side one.
5. “Universal Copernican Mumbles” Pat Gleeson, John Vierra, Kantner – This is another song like Titanic with piano and Synth and not much better than Titanic either.
6. “Holding Together” – As the longest song on the LP at over 7 minutes, it is ironic that it is not one of the better songs in my opinion.