Tuesday, January 3, 2017

"No Way Out" by Jefferson Starship

Song#:  1899
Date:  05/12/1984
Debut:  72
Peak:  23
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Starting with 1975 #1 LP Red Octopus, Jefferson Starship began to move away from their original rock sound to something more commercial. While the move had its rewards with steady selling albums and hits like "Count on Me" (#8, 1978) and "Jane" (#14, 1979), older fans were jumping ship and critics were not kind. It also caused friction in the band and personnel changes ensued. By 1984, there was only one true original member left in the band, Paul Kantner (Grace Slick was back on board, but she joined Jefferson Airplane almost two years after its original lineup). They soldiered on for an eighth album under the Jefferson Starship moniker titled Nuclear Furniture. With a successful rock producer on board, Ron Nevison (soon to have huge success with a revamped Heart), the band enlisted some songwriting help on a few tracks in order to keep their commercial sound progressing. One of those tracks was this lead single. Written by Peter and Ina Wolf (not the Peter Wolf from J. Geils Band), the song took off at Rock and became their first to hit #1 on that chart. Its success there allowed it to cross over to Pop where it nearly got into the Top 20.

ReduxReview:  This song is a bit strange. It has an smooth AC-leaning verse that all of a sudden shifts key into this big rock chorus. It almost feels like two different songs stitched together. However, I think it works. Yes, it is not the Jefferson of yore and they had pretty much jumped the shark by this time, but I think if a new band had issued this song, it would still be a hit with folks going "who is that great new band?!" I never let it bother me that this was JeffStar (probably because I wasn't a big fan to begin with). During this critically low point, I actually liked several of the songs they issued including this one.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  As someone who saw the band in their best days, Kantner was not happy with the commercial sound of Jefferson Starship. He was able to force four of this songs on the new album, but he was not pleased with the rest of the songs and the overall sound. Apparently, he was so upset by the outcome that at one point during the mixing sessions, he broke into the studio, stole the master tapes, and held them hostage until the band agreed to let him get the songs mixed the way he wanted them. Everything finally worked out, but it took a toll on Kantner and he decided to leave the band. Unfortunately for the rest of the members, they could not continue on as Jefferson Starship due to  Kantner successfully seeking legal action to prevent them from using the name. After the dust settled, the next incarnation of the band simply went by Starship.


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