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Updated by Love-It Loud on Mar 10, 2015
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Top Ten Grace Slick Songs


Of the songs included on the Great Society's debut album that one that stood out was White Rabbit, a six-minute psychedelic opus Slick wrote following an acid trip in which she felt seduced by Spanish culture. The lyrics were non-too-subtle parallel between Lewis Carroll's surreal children's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and LSD. 'The music is a bolero (Spanish) rip-off,' explained Slick. 'In part the lyrics allude to the hypocrisy of the older generation swilling one of the hardest drugs (alcohol) known to man, but telling us not to use psychedelics.' Although written for the Great Society, this version would not be released until 1968, a year after Jefferson Airplane had gained acclaim for their two-and-a-half minute interpretation.


Frustrated with the changing music industry and eager to work on new material she had written, Slick walked away from Jefferson Starship to work on her second solo album, joining forces with producer Ron Frangipane to create Dreams. While the title track would prove to be the dramatic highpoint of the record, the standout moment was the Spanish-flavoured El Diablo, which boasted impressive acoustics from guitarist Scott Zito and an end solo from Sol Ditroia. Beat your breast like thunder, vent your anger with a howl,' she declared in the song. 'You'll not pull me under, I'll not tremble at your growl.'


While the 1980s incarnation of Starship may have become too corporate for many fans of Jefferson Airplane, when Earth was released in 1978 Jefferson Starship still felt like a continuation of the earlier band. Slick's alcohol consumption had started to cause tension within the ranks, while the majority of the vocal duties were performed by frontman Marty Balin, but Slick's one shining moment on Earth was the opening song Love Too Good, penned by guitarist Craig Chaquico with lyrics by Gabriel Robles. During the Jefferson Starship's 1978 tour of Europe Slick would suffer from sickness, resulting in the band being forced to cancel the show.


Originally written for the Jaynetts, who had reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963 before vanishing into obscurity, Sally Go 'Round the Roses became a live favourite for the Great Society and was later chosen as the opening track of Conspicuous Only in Its Absence, an album that had been recorded live at the San Francisco venue The Matrix in 1968. Perfectly capturing the sound of the city's mid-1960s psychedelic scene, the band's rendition of the song would also be something of a precursor for the type of music that the Velvet Underground would perfect a few years later.


While arguably the most famous of all Jefferson Airplane's repertoire, Somebody to Love, as with White Rabbit, was written for the Great Society. Composed by guitarist Darby Slick, the song would become a staple of the band's live set and would later be included on Conspicuous Only in Its Absence, released two years after the group had split. 'In the past, when people wrote love songs they were talking about someone who would or wouldn't fill their personal desires,' said Slick. 'Somebody to Loveā€¦turned the old concept around. The lyrics implied that rather than the loving you're whining about getting or not getting, a more satisfying state of heart might be the love you're giving.'


Jefferson Airplane had already split when Slick decided to venture out onto her own and work on a solo album called Manhole, although members of the band were invited to participate in the recording and in some cases even the writing of the songs. Even while Slick worked on new material, guitarist Paul Kantner was forming a new incarnation called Jefferson Starship. Slick intended on her debut album to be confrontational, a theme that had continued throughout her work. 'That title, Manhole, was meant to shock the women's libbers and the lyrics - half Spanish, half English - were meant to please me,' she admitted. While a departure from the style of Jefferson Airplane, the thirteen-minute epic Theme from the Movie Manhole would best demonstrate Slick's unrestrained musical abilities, refusing to conform to a particular genre or offer the label a song that could be marketed as a single.


There was no denying that Jefferson Starship was Kantner's band and Slick was in many ways dispensable, as was most evident by how Kantner dominated each of the albums, but with the title track of their 1982 record Winds of Change Slick was able to croon over the verses, with Kantner remaining on the sidelines. The song was written by bassist Pete Sears and his wife Jeannette, who had contributed lyrics to songs on the 1979 album Freedom at Point Zero and the 1981 follow-up Modern Times.


In between the releases of 1969's Volunteers and Bark, which followed two years later, Kantner decided to work on a solo album, Blows Against the Empire, although ultimately other members of the band would come to join him in the studio. Among these would be Slick, who would contribute both vocals and piano, the latter accompanying guitarists David Crosby and Jerry Garcia on the mostly-instrumental Have You Seen the Stars Tonite? The song had been written by Kantner and Crosby, a guest musician who was best known for his work with the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, who would also co-write another track, A Child is Coming. Incidentally, Slick and Kantner's daughter was born the following January. Blows Against the Empire would be credited to Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship, the first time the band would be referred to as Jefferson Starship, despite still professionally known as Jefferson Airplane.


The 1980s would prove to be a difficult decade for those who had started out in the 1960s and still carried those same sensibilities. The 1980s imposed a lot of restrictions on artists, from having to work with songwriters to stylists rebranding them for magazines and MTV. All of this was too much for Kantner and he decided to part ways with the band he had helped to form twenty years earlier, forcing the remaining members to rename themselves Starship. Mickey Thomas, who had joined Jefferson Starship for the recording of 1979's Freedom at Point Zero, would share lead vocals with Slick, and the band's first hit would come in 1985 with We Built This City. They would score their second number one two years later with the power ballad Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, a song co-written by Diane Warren for the movie Mannequin. The track would receive an Academy Award nomination, further enhancing the band's success, although it would prove to be their last big hit.


Grace Slick had proved to be one of the most influential female rock singers of all time, having arrived on the scene a decade before Heart and the Runaways. She had inspired one generation after another, and in the 1990s it would be bands such as Hole, Bikini Kill and the 4 Non Blondes who would walk in her shadow. Following the split of the latter, singer Linda Perry embarked on a solo career with her debut album In Flight, writing most of the songs by herself and working with producer Bill Bottrell, who also performed guitar on the album. The highlight was the slow and dream-like Knock Me Out, which featured vocals from Slick, who had also contributed to the writing of the song. 'You knocked me out, you bit my lip. You held me down and kept me sober,' sang Perry, words that felt as much from Slick's heart as her own. The song would later be included on the soundtrack to the fantasy sequel The Crow: City of Angels, which would also include music from PJ Harvey and Hole.