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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical space rock masterpiece !
True rating - an entire galaxy (Andromeda)
Some wonder what happened to the principle players of the original Jefferson Airplane. The answer is that they kept getting better. During the time of this album's release, it was period of the Jefferson Airplane -Jefferson Starship continuum when Jack and Jorma went off to form Hot Tuna while Grace Slick and Paul...
Published on June 13, 2005 by Hallstatt Prince

versus
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On Their Way to the Starship
Between the Airplane and the Starship stood Baron Von Tollbooth. Make no mistake - this is the Jefferson Airplane sans Marty Balin. The problem with pre-Starship releases was the pathetic sound of the recordings: muddy base lines, instruments obscuring vocals and an ear shattering edge on Grace's voice. The original recording of "Baron Von Tollbooth" was a clear...
Published on February 21, 2000 by dev1


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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical space rock masterpiece !, June 13, 2005
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
True rating - an entire galaxy (Andromeda)
Some wonder what happened to the principle players of the original Jefferson Airplane. The answer is that they kept getting better. During the time of this album's release, it was period of the Jefferson Airplane -Jefferson Starship continuum when Jack and Jorma went off to form Hot Tuna while Grace Slick and Paul Kantner had a child and for a time made some of their best albums.

After Paul Kantner's successful solo project the 1970 science fiction rock epic "Blows Against the Empire" Kantner found himself in one of his most prolific writing periods. His writing style takes the form of the prophetic as he contemplates the meaning of the psychedelic experience -his conclusion is that man's destiny lies in the stars.

Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun (the pet names bestowed upon Slick and Kantner by their friend David Crosby) is a very mature well produced yet a daring album that continues the Kantner space theme. Sharing the bill with Kantner and Slick is old folkie friend David Freiberg. They are joined by a group that reads like a who's who of the San Francisco psychedelic scene: drummers John Barbata (formerly of CSN&Y) and Mickey Hart (loaned out from the Grateful Dead), Jorma Kaukonen, legendary bassist Jack Casady, Violinist Papa John Creech, the Pointer Sisters, David Crosby, Jack Traylor (a fellow psychedelic space rocker) and even Jerry Garcia himself. The entire album has a polished sound that has somewhat mystical theme layered on top of Kantner's visions of life in space.

1) The Ballad of the Chrome Nun (Freiberg/Slick)
The song is classic Slick in its irreverence but is also optimistic. Although she may be poking fun at traditional religion there is a spiritual nature to it. The song is well textured and Slick is in great voice.

2) Fat (Slick)
Backed up by the Pointer Sisters this song has unmistakable religious almost Gospel music sound to it. Her lyric "so we all went through the wall" suggests such things as telepathy and telekinesis. And the fat which she sings about seems to refer to excesses - most likely the excesses of the 60s. Yet in no way is this group giving up their values but paring them down in preparation for a new world they envision. The repetition of Slick belting out the word "someday" is moving and hopeful. It is obvious that they want the psychedelic parade to continue but with a new focus.

3) Flowers of the Night (Traylor)
The song is sung by Kantner and in the lyric of this song Traylor lists political, intellectual and spiritual revolutionaries as the song tells a story of change. The song contains some beautiful guitar work.

4) Walkin' (Kantner/Slick)
The music is bouncy with Creech on Violin in his characteristic style and Slick on the piano. The lyric is somewhat cryptic but seems to offer a justification for the chances taken in their psychedelic rock and roll life style as well as an invitation to the listener to live vicariously through their life, music and visions. Again like the rest of the songs on the album it is a very hopeful song.

5) Your Mind Has Left Your Body (Kantner)
This song seems to have to do with astroprojection and it was written in the days when Kantner Leary and others were attempting to experiment with the phenomena. The "White Bear" some say refers to Augustus Owsley Stanley and the part of the chorus "riders of the rainbow" may come from the book title "Warriors of the Rainbow"-a book about the mystical experiences of the American Indians. It is a beautiful visionary and haunting.

6) Across the Board (Slick)
A beautiful but campy song and in true Grace Slick fashion Grace does her best vocally to spice things up. The lyrics are more than a little suggestive but quite witty.

7) Harp Tree Lament (Freiberg/Hunter)
Co-written by Robert Hunter Jerry Garcia's song writing partner the title refers to the Bible verse in which the children of Israel are goaded to sing for their captors. It is a somewhat slow down beat song but beautiful.

8) White Boy (Transcaucasian Airmachine Blues) (Kantner)
In this song Kantner sums up his work and states his thesis which began with the album Blows Against the Empire and which he continues to this very day. It clearly proposes idea that civilization is progressive and our ultimate future is in outer space and further that we don't really belong here. It is a very thoughtful (and again hopeful) song. In 1973 when other rock artists were questioning the experience of the 60s and a feeling isolated Kantner gives a more hopeful view.

9) Fishman (Slick)
The lyrics at first blush sound pretty bizarre but it is actually a love song from Slick to Kantner. Slick's voice is powerful and she really belts out the lines.

10) Sketches of China (Kantner /Slick)
Sung by Kantner and Slick and accompanied by oriental sounding rock it tells a bizarre story in picture fragments. There seems to be some word play going on in the song between China the nation and China Kantner (Grace and Paul's daughter). It is ultimately a triumphant sounding song.

Baron von Tollbooth is one of the most beautiful and hopeful albums of the JA/JS opus. In it Kantner and Slick do their best to keep the spirit of the 60s going while focusing their eyes on the stars.

Highly recommended

Jim Connell "Hallstatt Prince"
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On Their Way to the Starship, February 21, 2000
By 
dev1 (Baltimore) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
Between the Airplane and the Starship stood Baron Von Tollbooth. Make no mistake - this is the Jefferson Airplane sans Marty Balin. The problem with pre-Starship releases was the pathetic sound of the recordings: muddy base lines, instruments obscuring vocals and an ear shattering edge on Grace's voice. The original recording of "Baron Von Tollbooth" was a clear departure from muddy previous work: it was crisp and clean. The CD, with the assistance of Paul Williams from House of Hits Production improves on the fine original - sound quality is exceptional. Sure, the Airplane still call for revolution (Flowers of the Night) and recommend leaving this world on a drug induced airplane (or is it a starship?). What's new are songs like "Ballad of the Chrome Nun" and "Across the Board." Both will jump off the turntable (CD player) and knock you out with a left hook. "Across the Board" must be the most pornographic song to date (1980). Grace sings every descriptive phase with passion - and you can bet that she means it. Missing are the romantic Slick-Balin love ballads. "Harp Tree Lament" is the closest we get a sentimental tune, but it just doesn't measure up to Slick and Balin trading heart felt lyrics. Still, "Baron" is an example of what the Airplane could have been had they exercised some care in recording and production techniques. Recommended for post-hippies and pre-punkers.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical musical journey~Bravo Grace & Paul!!!, October 26, 2004
By 
Bradly Briggs "sing it!" (TOLUCA LAKE, CALIFORNIA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
Apparently this brilliant musical masterpiece came a few years too late at the wrong time in that boring singer/songwriter period where bland was in and musical genius such as this was not...a loss for the audience, not to mention great musical talent tossed aside for flavor of the day. From the top it is clear this cutting-edge masterpiece is incomparable with everyone in peak creative form...Grace and Paul are an amazing musical force and that Slick voice is one of the "Unsung" greatest ever in the history of rock that has been amazingly and sadly overlooked. "Your Mind Has Left Your Body" is wondrous and Grace Slick is mindblowing & at a soulful peak in "Across The Board" which is a lost hit that should have been while "Sketches Of China" is an awesome finale to this wonderful musical journey. Majestic flowing orchestrations along with masterful vocals will satisfy those who love creative rock at its finest! "White Boy" is an exhilarating rock anthem and a unique musical gem to experience...how was this amazing set of songs along with Slick solo masterpiece "Dreams" overlooked...little wonder the music industry is in such a mess as they don't get behind the great stuff and radio, pathetic silly trends of the day dominate. "Baron" and "Dreams" are both essential musical experiences and so damn happy these amazing works have been remastered and available now for us music lovers to savor and enjoy. Beyond compare and musical genius like this isn't happening anymore so enjoy. BRAVO to everyone involved with the creation of this great ride...
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best rockin' on Baron VonTollbooth and the Chrome Nun, July 22, 2003
By 
Charles Little (Saginaw, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
This album is a must have for any Jefferson Airplane/Starship fan. This is Grace Slick and Paul Kantner at their very best - political, poetic, and just plain weird.
Of course, it takes shots at the expected government and church alike, as the first track The Ballad of the Chrome Nun 'Anytime I laugh I got religion' In the early eighties a reverend actually protested a Jefferson Starship concert because of the band's lyric implications.
The second track "Fat" is a classic Grace Slick, with then unknown The Pointer Sisters on background vocals.
Other great songs on this album are Harp Tree Lament, fishman, and Sketches of China.
You gotta ride this music!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Album, Poor Quality Recording, August 12, 2000
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
The remastered version of Baron von Tollbooth & The Chrome Nun undoubtedly contains some exceptional songs (check out Ballad of the Chrome Nun, Fat, and the indomitable Across the Board). The material is very good, but listening is made difficult by the poor sound quality. Grace Slick's voice is obscured by the music, which in turn is obscured by the overall sound quality. Kinda sounds like listening to music at the end of a very long tunnel, very dim sounding (the term "remastered" is lost on this album). I still can't distinguish some of the lyrics to Ballad of the Chrome Nun, although I get the overall jist of it. This is a must if you're a Grace Slick/Jefferson Airplane fan, but if you're just a casual listener, don't bother, unless you like the tunnel effect. Buy it for the artistic vision and the witty lyrical content, not for the sound quality.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grace Slick Fans Must Have This, January 3, 2000
By 
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
Call me crazy, but I think BVTB is one of the best recordings made by any Airplane people. The Ballad of the Chrome Nun is hilariously ironic besides being a very catchy song. The style of the piano in it is reminiscent of something you would hear at a 'soulful' church, yet the song is glaringly anti-Christian. In all, this album is perfect for you if you tend to pay attention to both the words AND music. Both work hand-in-hand to make a huge statement in BVTB.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong Album, Muddy Sound, August 22, 2001
By 
Benjamin C. Leonard (South Bend, Indiana United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
I had to knock this album down a star because of poor sound. There is no crispness in it. Too bad to, because this is a fine piece of work from start to finish. Grace Slick gives some of her finest vocal work ever here. Sketches Of China is an incredible cut and the best on the album. The title comes from David Crosby's pet names for Grace Slick and Paul Kantner. David Freiberg is also on board for this effort, which gives us a preview of what the Jefferson Starship was going to sound like. A really curious thing was that the Airplane albums at this time were very weak, partially because Marty Balin jumped ship, but not completely. Yet Kanter and Slick were turning out several fine things together and solo. This album was out of print for years and I am very glad it is back, I just wished they could have cleaned up the sound.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slick's Best Work of the Early '70s, May 13, 2005
By 
Toolshed (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
Grace Slick and Paul Kantner--along with various members of their extended musical entourage--recorded several little-known, but really great records in the early '70s on their way from Jefferson Airplane to Jefferson Starship (n.b. Dragonfly has their names on the cover). Sunfighter (1971) is the first, but Baron von Tollbooth (despite the overly-whimsical title) is a stunning collection of songs that feature some of Slick best writing ever. Her contributions range from the highly melodic "Fat" to the imperious and bracingly-delivered "Across the Board." "Sketches of China" is a great song, mobilizing each band member's skills nearly perfectly. Kantner and Slick always generously gave over space on their records to their collaborators--with almost uniformly bad results and here, Friedberg's token track is one big New Left platitude after another. Overall, the album has a beautiful, deep sound, and Slick's vocals are particularly crisp and set off strikingly. And who ever missed the hystrionics of Marty Balin?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AND I THOUGHT IT WAS NOT AVAILABLE, June 28, 2000
By 
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
I had just done a review of "Sunfighter" and was gloating over having this on CD, thinking it was no more. Guess I didn't scroll down enough the first time. While it's not quite up to snuff with "Sunfighter" it succeeds on another level by not really sounding stuck so much in an era. Sure, there's plenty of political and religious tomfoolery, but it's more general here than on Sunfighter. In a sense, it's much more of a Jefferson Starship album than Airplane. "Across The Board" is Grace's all out best rocker, bar none! There are a couple of weak tracks and the vocal mixes are muddy. Also, David Frieberg was no substitute for Marty Balin's vocal ability, but when Marty did return later on, the shmaltz factor was too much for this listener. At any rate, Frieberg sounds great at the end of "Sketches of China", where you really get to hear him. "Sketches of China" remains one of my favorite Kantner/Slick pieces. Something I'll always return to.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Over-looked Slick-Kantner Gem, October 18, 2004
This review is from: Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun (Audio CD)
At the time of its release (1973), this was regarded as yet another solo project from the splintering Jefferson Airplane.Today it stands out as one of Grace and Pauls (and David Freibergs) tightest and well written collection of material from their solo years.You can hear Jefferson Starship (formed in 74) starting to come together with show-stoppers like Grace Slicks "Across the Board" and Paul Kantners haunting "White Boy".Be sure to check out the Pointer Sisters backing up Grace on the nearly Gospel sounding "Fat". An excellent addition to the prolific collection of spooky-beautiful anthems from the Baron and the Chrome Nun.
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Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun
Baron Von Tollbooth And The Chrome Nun by David Freiberg (Audio CD - 1997)
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