This package combines the final two albums released during the Jefferson Airplane'
s initial flight on a single disc. They were clearly contract-fulfilling, vault-clearing sets but both contain plenty of gems belying their shabby packaging, nearly non-existent liner notes, and commercially driven existence. The misleadingly titled Early Flight
, originally available in 1971, is not live, but a collection of Airplane
odds, ends, B-sides, and rarities. It ranges from material recorded before the band's 1966 debut with original lead singer Signe Anderson
to a track waxed after the group's breakup. With a span of that many years, it can't help but be a mish-mash, but it's a charming one that rescues some great cuts, such as the Marty Balin
-sung Jorma Kaukonen
gem "Up or Down." It's for collectors of course, who at this late stage probably already own all the selections, but the 2010 remastering is clean and warm, even on the earliest music. It closes with a studio take of "Have You Seen the Saucers" which, not coincidentally, is the opening track of the accompanying live portion. By the time of this 1972 tour, Marty Balin
had been replaced by ex-Quicksilver Messenger Service'
s David Freiberg
(who is practically inaudible throughout) and fiddle player Papa John Creach
was a full-fledged member. The Airplane'
s sound changed, arguably for the better, even if the lineup was short-lived. Despite, or maybe because of, Creach'
s involvement, the group's live work remained top-notch and his playing on an 11-minute version of Kaukonen'
s "Feel so Good" is one of the highlights of this part of the disc. The release also rescues some later period songs that might have otherwise been forgotten, such as "Milk Train" and "Twilight Double Leader," both of which are captured in spirited performances better than the studio versions.