Jefferson Starship – Freedom at Point Zero (1979)

Starship_FreedomPointZero4.5 out of 5 Stars!

After the band released its rather disappointing, “middle of the road” Earth album in 1978, Jefferson Starship revamped its lineup in the wake of both Marty Balin’s and Grace Slick’s exits, hiring the dynamic Mickey Thomas (The Elvin Bishop Band) as its new lead vocalist and also recruiting ace drummer Aynsley Dunbar (Journey/Jeff Beck/Frank Zappa). More importantly, instead of continuing on in the same musical direction, the band smartly hardened its sound and released one of its best albums.

Freedom at Point Zero included the mega-hit “Jane,” along with the pounding and straightforward “Rock Music,” the beautiful ballad “Fading Lady Light,” and the kick-ass AOR gems “Just The Same” and the almost-proggish “Awakening,” which all showcase Mickey’s exceptional, breathtaking vocals. Incidentally, I also found it quite impressive that, in many respects—especially when the band employed its trademarked “Jefferson Airplane-ish” gang-vocal singing style on songs such as “Girl With the Hungry Eyes,” “Things To Come,” “Lightning Rose,” and the title track (which strongly reminds me of the band’s previously released “Ride The Tiger”)—Mickey Thomas, with his wide range, sounds almost exactly like Grace Slick, making her absence less “stinging” overall for longtime fans of the group who missed her presence.

Be that as it may, this album thankfully rejuvenated the band and became the first in another series of highly successful albums (with Grace happily returning to the fold on the next release). Both this album, as well as Modern Times (released two years later), are probably my favorite albums from the group, no matter its various incarnations.

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Starship – Loveless Fascination (2013)

Starship_LovelessFascination4 out of 5 Stars!

Truthfully, I was more than a little skeptical when I found this album. What would Starship sound like in the new century, especially without the appearance of Grace Slick and (apart from Mickey Thomas) an entirely new line-up? Would the band be a mere shadow of its former self? After the horribly disappointing Love Among the Cannibals album (the group’s final release from back in 1989), would Starship be able to convince me that it even deserves to be around more than two decades later?

I soon had my answers—Starship not only deserves to exist, but the group sounds like a solid, better-than-average AOR/Hard Rock band with Mickey delivering a wickedly wonderful (and gruffer than usual) performance, and has released an album with a large percentage of tracks being more than a tad enjoyable. And overall, when it comes to the songs, the band’s style, and the general production, this album sounds nothing like the old Starship. Indeed, I would have urged the band to change its name, thus starting afresh and avoiding any preconceived notions people might have.

Regardless, if this collection of tracks had been released back in 1989 instead of Love Among the Cannibals, Starship might have continued as a viable force throughout the ’90s. This album impressed me so much that I actually listened to it twice in a row. A tremendous surprise. And a note to fans of the original Starship—as mentioned before, when hearing the opening track “It’s Not The Same As Love,” you may find yourself wondering if this really is Starship, since it’s the heaviest track the band (whatever its lineup) has ever produced. In fact, most of the rockers on this album would probably feel right at home were they to appear on any album by bands such as Talisman, Harem Scarem, Tyketto, or Pink Cream 69.

The bottom line? Starship in the 2000s shows great promise, with this album standing right up there alongside other fine AOR/Hard Rock albums from the past few decades. There’s a nice mixture of rollicking tracks, catchy mid-tempo tunes, and a few decent ballads. Mickey Thomas fans will be thrilled!


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