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Gregor von Kallahann
- Publié sur Amazon.com
In a way I feel kinda sorry for Mickey Thomas. I mean, he probably thinks, "Hey, I've got more notes than Marty Balin or Grace Slick COMBINED!! Why wasn't *I* the star?" And, you know, he'd have a point. What he didn't have, however, was a lot of personality. Mick's was pretty much a standard issue arena rock voice, but it was never especially distinctive. I remember learning, well after Thomas had hooked up with Jefferson Starship, that his was the voice on the Elvin Bishop hit "Fooled Around And Fell In Love." I said, "Oh, yeah! I can hear that, now that you mention it." But if he was a truly distinctive singer (which is half the battle--in ALL genres of popular music), then I guess I would have heard that clearly the instant I first heard "Jane." Mickey was something of a journeyman--and come to think of it, if Steve Perry hadn't already had the gig, JOURNEY would have been the ideal band for him.
LOVE AMONG THE CANNIBALS is not, IMHO, the utter disaster that many other Airplane/JEFFERSON Starship fans dismiss it as. It's actually very competent AOR, and fans of that genre are probably missing out if they haven't picked up on it at some point in the twenty some years since its unheralded release. Me, well, I'm not that much of an AOR fan. I did wait til I could buy it dirt cheap, but I'm completist enough that I had to have it. It's sort of like being a Velvet Underground fan and feeling compelled to pick up on the Reed-less, Cale-less SQUEEZE, even though you know not to expect much.
I always thought the post-Kantner Starship was a pretty good pop band--with Grace on board to bring a slightly subversive, somewhat quirky element. Once she left for good, you had to know what we were in for: competent pop sans any trace of quirk. The most interesting tracks here are the title track--co-written by Mick and very likely directed (NEGATIVELY) at Slick and Kantner--and this band's sop to the social-consciousness of their forebears in the form of the anthemic "We Dream In Color." Lyrically, the tune evokes both Hendrix and U2: musically, it doesn't quite approach the level of either of those acts.
Before her actual departure from Starship, I recall reading an interview with Slick in which she revealed a certain fascination for the hitmaking process overall. The only real hit song SHE had ever penned was "White Rabbit," and that she conceded was something of a fluke. She didn't feel that she really understood the process of crafting a hit single and had developed a vaguely perverse kind of admiration for those songwriters who could churn 'em out. By extension, she probably kinda sorta admired her own latterday band too. They had something going for 'em commercially--and in the Age of Reagan, that counted for something.
LOVE AMONG THE CANNIBALS would probably have had to be a HUGE hit for the Grace-less Starship to continue to thrive. It did yield a modest hit in "It's Not Enough," which sounds enough like their previous work that you kind of EXPECT to hear Grace's distinctive hiss in the background and are likely to be disappointed when you don't. The album did crack the HOT 100, but it was not the stellar success it probably needed to be. The band might have struggled on thereafter, but there was that ugliness between Mickey Thomas and Donny Baldwin (that led to facial reconstruction for the former) and some other setbacks. That was pretty much the end of the Starship enterprise, although confusingly enough, Kantner still performs with Balin et al. under the JEFFERSON Starship name and, at least until recently, Thomas has been touring with a banned billed as Starship featuring Mickey Thomas. I nearly went to see 'em at a county fair a few years ago, but something came up.
It's all too bad in a way. This record has a few tracks on it that were promising. Here and there, Thomas showed an emerging distinctive rasp. It gave his vocals a bit of character. A little gravel amid all those high notes couldn't hurt.