When Jefferson Airplane morphed into Jefferson Starship in the early seventies, guitarist Paul Kantner was always there to help give the band a true anchor. Despite constantly changing line-ups and changing sounds throughout that decade and beyond, they made some great albums. When Kantner left the band in 1984, he took the Jefferson name with him and although that marked the end for an important phase of the Airplane/Starship story, the remaining members of the newly named Starship (sans Jefferson) went on to have their greatest success. Although often derided, their mega-selling ‘We Built This City’ (co-written with the legendary Bernie Taupin) was a massive success on both sides of the Atlantic.

Following Kantner’s return in 1992, the band (now with the Jefferson properly reinstated) didn’t have so much in the way of commercial success. However, they continued to work hard and various incarnations of Jefferson Starship could be found touring the States in the first part of the twentieth century, in all kinds of venues and on all kinds of nostalgia bills. Several official bootlegs document this time and can be listened to with varying degrees of enjoyment. Between 1992 and 2019, only two new studio albums (1998’s ‘Windows of Heaven’ and 2008’s ‘Jefferson’s Tree of Liberty’) made it into the wild. Neither were very good, but Jefferson Starship trucked on, much in the way they always had, until Paul passed away in 2016.

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After Mickey Thomas joined Jefferson Starship in 1979, they entered the most commercial phase of their career, with Thomas always seen as a key figure in pushing the band in a more pop direction (culminating in its Starship incarnation).  It’s not entirely fair to blame Mickey Thomas for that, since he joined the band on the cusp of the new decade, and lots of bands turned rather more poppy in the 80s, so it likely would have happened to Jefferson Starship too, with or without the help of Mickey Thomas.  Although all of a very 80s persuasion, some of his work with that band is great, however, with ‘Freedom at Point Zero (1979), ‘Knee Deep In The Hoopla (1985) and ‘No Protection’ (1987) all worth investigating.

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