by Jefferson StarshipJefferson Starship


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Spitfire was Jefferson Starship's 1976 follow-up to the chart-topping Red Octopus (1975), and it found the band in a cooperative mood. All seven bandmembers earned writing credits on at least one of the nine songs, along with eight outsiders, and even drummer John Barbata got a lead vocal on the simple rock & roll song "Big City." But the three main power centers in the group remained in place. Singer/guitarist Paul Kantner continued to turn out his lengthy, complex songs with their exhortatory, vaguely political lyrics (the five-minute "Dance with the Dragon" and the seven-minute "Song to the Sun: Ozymandias/Don't Let It Rain"). Singer Grace Slick contributed her own idiosyncratic compositions, simultaneously elliptical and passionately stated ("Hot Water" and "Switchblade"). And singer Marty Balin, whose romantic ballad "Miracles" had fueled the success of Red Octopus, wrote (or located) and sang more songs of love and pleasure ("Cruisin'," "St. Charles," "With Your Love," and "Love Lovely Love"). Weaving the three styles together were the fluid lead guitar work of Craig Chaquico and the alternating bass and keyboard playing of David Freiberg and Pete Sears. The result was an album that quickly scaled the charts, spending six consecutive weeks at number three in Billboard and going platinum. That it didn't do better on the band's considerable career momentum can be put down to the relatively disappointing nature of the material. There was no "Miracles" on the album, to begin with. Grunt Records released the more modest "With Your Love" as a single and got it into the Top 20, but the closest thing to "Miracles" was really "St. Charles," a song that certainly had some of the same elements but lacked the kind of direct emotional statement that made "Miracles" a classic. Similarly, "Dance with the Dragon" was no "Ride the Tiger" (from Dragon Fly [1974]), and while "Switchblade" was an unusually clear statement of romantic intent from Slick (whose "lyrical wordplay is...not easily accessible yet compelling and thought-provoking," as 2004 reissue annotator Jeff Tamarkin generously says of "Hot Water"), its provocative title made it an unlikely choice for an adult contemporary hit. Spitfire was more than the sum of its parts, boasting the sort of vocal interplay and instrumental virtuosity that had always been the hallmarks of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. If the band had taken more time to write and find better songs, it might have matched the sales and quality of its predecessor.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/24/2004
Label: Rca
UPC: 0828766287127
catalogNumber: 62871
Rank: 20218

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jefferson Starship   Primary Artist
Jefferson Airplane   Primary Artist
Marty Balin   Guitar,Vocals
Grace Slick   Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Pete Sears   Organ,Bass,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals,Moog Synthesizer,Mellotron
Paul Kantner   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Vocals
Bobbye Hall   Percussion,Conga
Craig Chaquico   Guitar,Vocals
John Barbata   Percussion,Conga,Drums,Vocals
David Freiberg   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals,ARP
Steven Schuster   Horn,Saxophone
Jacky Kaukonen   Announcer

Technical Credits

Marty Balin   Composer
Joey Covington   Composer
Paul Kantner   Composer
Larry Cox   Producer,Engineer
Chris Ethridge   Composer
China Kantner   Composer
Bill Laudner   Road Manager
V. Jeffrey Smith   Composer
Dave Roberts   Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements
Jefferson Starship   Producer,Art Direction
Rob Santos   Reissue Producer
Jeff Tamarkin   Liner Notes
Ron Slenzak   Cover Photo
Shusei Nagaoka   Illustrations
Betty Ann Rizzo   Licensing
Jeff Smith   Art Direction
John Langdon   Artwork,Label Design
Cynthia Bowman   Publicity
Heidi Howell   Publicity
Wild Bill Thompson   Executive Producer,Management
Bill Thompson   Executive Producer

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