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Blows Against Empire

4.6 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 29, 1997
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 29, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: 1970
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000002X2B
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,038 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Junglies VINE VOICE on September 16, 2005
Format: Audio CD
First of all, acknowlegements for the use of part of a line from Starship written by Kantner, Slick, Balin and Blackman. In the liner notes, Paul Kantner tells of how he wrote to Robert Heinlein to ask permission to use some of his ideas in the project to which Heinlein replied with some astonishment that his ideas had been used many times before but only Kantner had written for permission.

Secondly, Amazon has the tracklist wrong to the extent that the radio slots for the album are at the end and not the beginning.

Thirdly, I do not want to duplicate my review of the first CD release of this album which can be found on Amazon's pages and which I pretty much stand by today.

Fourthly, I think that this remastering is truly excellent. I say this first and foremost because of the sound. The first time around sounds dark and murky in comparison but here the sound is pristine revealing much more in the process and giving the vocals a lot nore clarity in particular. And, if you never knew why Paul Kantner appreciated Grace Slick's vocals so much you sure do here. Listen to the bonus track of her demo version of Sunrise it is astounding. The Garcia contributions also benefit enormously from the remastering and it makes one wonder how awesome he would have become as a pedal steel guitar player if he had chosen that particular route had he not preferred to go back to the regular (sic) guitar. All of the instruments and vocals are greatly improved.

Next the bonus tracks. Although they do not add per se to the original album as new songs they certainly elaborate on their development. Let's Go Together is presented with alternative lyrics but after several plays I must confess to preferring the original album.
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By A Customer on September 25, 1999
Format: Audio CD
A rock and roll classic! Created with the help of members from the Airplane, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Grateful Dead, Crosby, Stills & Nash and others, this album belongs to a joint effort that also gave us "If I Could Only Remember My Name" (David Crosby), "Ace" (Bobby Weir), "Rolling Thunder" (Mickey Hart), "Garcia" (Jerry Garcia) and "Manhole" (Grace Slick). All of those are masterpieces, and "Blows Against The Empire" is possibly the most ambitious of the lot. Written in a time when people were still going to the Moon, the album tells a science fiction story, with a wonderfully naive concept, about the hijack of the first starship (build in secrecy by the government) by a group of hippies. But, if the cynicism of our days prevents us from "digging" the idea, the music is as strong as ever... from the revolutionary anger of "Mau Mau, Amerikon" till the final explosion of "Hijack" and "Starship"! Only in the recent "Windows of Heaven" Paul Kantner returned to this sort of "free form" cosmic delirium. A must for the sixties/seventies collector and for all the fans of psychedelic rock.
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Format: Audio CD
This is not really the Jefferson Starship. This is a project from Paul Kantner and Grace Slick, with the help of alot of friends, recorded during a break from the Jefferson Airplane, just after recording the album "Volunteers". Starship, which evolved from the Airplane, didn't really become an established group until four years later.
This album more or less marked the end of the San Francisco psychodelic and political period of rock and roll. After, this the Airplane went more pop, the Dead went country and everyone else just disappeared. In a way, it does lead into the British progressive period.
This a concept album about hippies taking off in their starship and embarking on a voyage of love and peace. It may sound like a silly, dated concept now, but Kantner is such a strong song writer that the words and music still hold up.
The music is fantastic. A big chunk of it is duets between Jerry Garcia and someone on piano. Could it be Grace Slick? I didn't think she was that talented on keyboards. The piano is upfront, slow and deliberate while Garcia's guitar is playing furiously in the background to set up an etherial mood.
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Format: Audio CD
That stands for "San Francisco science fiction."
I've mentioned in other reviews that science fiction/speculative fiction is a lot more important in the thought of the 1960s than many people seem to know. In fact the works of writers like Heinlein and Sturgeon informed those ideals from the very beginning. This album is a terrific example.
Besides being a fine selection of music by some of the best musicians around, it's also a musical adaptation of a theme from a Robert Heinlein novel. (Not the novella "Orphans of the Sky," as one reviewer has suggested, but _Methuselah's Children_, which is the one that introduces Lazarus Long.)
Paul Kantner was (and as far as I know still is) a tremendous fan of SF (science fiction, I mean, though I suppose he was also a fan of San Francisco, being the only member of the Airplane who was actually native to that city). He tried to apply it, too: for example, he and David Crosby once lived together as part of a commune operating on principles derived from Heinlein's _Stranger in a Strange Land_, a book to which Crosby also alludes in his song "Triad."
This album is another result of that fascination. The theme is simple enough: a bunch of libertarian hippies steal a starship. And there's a lot of cool music built around it; Kantner at his best was and is pretty damned good.
He had help, of course. This album was recorded at around the same time as David Crosby's _If I Could Only Remember My Name_ and includes most of the same personnel (notably the late and much missed Jerry Garcia on lead guitar throughout, but also other members of the Dead, the then-recently defunct Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby and Graham Nash, and anybody else who happened to be around).
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