Grace Slick would, of course, become more famous as the lead singer with Jefferson Airplane, but The Great Society is the band that came before, which featured other Slicks. There was Grace’s then husband Jerry Slick on drums, and Jerry’s brother Darby on guitar. A veritable slick of Slicks, indeed. Some Great Society songs came with Grace as she moved from them to the Jefferson Airplane – not least ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody To Love’.
Jefferson Airplane would, of course, lead to Jefferson Starship, who led to Starship, who – as we all know – built this city on rock and roll. I feel compelled to present the true awfulness of the video for that song:
Get over the shudders induced by that ‘orrible mess by reminding yourself of how cool Grace Slick was, when she was fronting the Great Society and Jefferson Airplane. The band are looking good on the cover of this record, in spite of the cover designer’s strange idea to overlay a photograph of a wicker chair on Grace’s face. I’m not sure why that was thought to be a good visual effect. But hey, the 1960s were a crazy time. It’s a lovely colour scheme on the sleeve, nonetheless.
I have three tapes somewhere which are all packed full of brilliant 1960s psychedelia and garage tunes. They’ve entertained me for over a decade now, at least. I think I may have mentioned them before here. Slowly but surely, I’m picking up the original releases of a lot of those tunes. ‘Somebody To Love’ by The Great Society is on one of those tapes – albeit not in the live version to be found on this album – and for years I always listened to it and thought “what a great cover of the Jefferson Airplane song… so close to the original in the vocal style… who are these Great Society pretenders, anyhow?” I guess there are always new facts to learn as way make our way through our musical lives.
I really like this record’s packaging. A simple, cardboard sleeve, with a folded-over photocopied sheet of paper glued on, and – on the back of the sleeve – a hand-stamped Soul Static Sound logo and catalogue number. This was a second-hand purchase – from, as I remember, a record shop in Wellington, Telford called Langland Records, which used to have a small box of second-hand seven-inch singles on its counter. The shop is still there, I think, in a different and smaller location, but when I was growing up I used to enjoy visiting it regularly. It was my go-to shop for records during my formative years of getting into what was then more genuinely called ‘indie’ music – back when that term meant something, grumble grumble. It was also directly opposite my pub of choice The White Lion, and its owner would often be brought pints from across the street to make his working day more, um, relaxed.
The glued-on paper has long since become unglued – indeed, it was that way from when I purchased it. This has revealed that whoever glued it on did so using criss-cross lines, and a single square outline of glue, which is – to anybody familiar with glueing – a normally excellent technique. Perhaps they used something that wasn’t built to last, like Gloy. I always used to prefer Cow Gum, but – unfortunately – I think that’s unavailable these days. Perhaps because of the outrageously noxious fumes it would release, that would turn one’s glueing session into impromptu glue-sniffing. Actually, perhaps that is why I used to prefer it, rather than for its sticking capability.
The Element Of Crime was a UK Riot Grrl-related outfit, featuring (I think) members of Huggy Bear. Let’s see what the internet has to say. Aha! It turns out – according to this blog, at least – the band included members of not only Huggy Bear but also Linus, Blood Sausage, Skinned Teen and Sister George. Pretty cool – at least to anybody into that whole scene in the early nineties. That was a fun time, and a lot of records were released back then. It was like bands released records just for the sake of the music, or to reinforce a point they had to make, rather than with some kind of career in mind. Does that still happen?