FTR-1002 Sunfighter
Produced by Paul Kantner, Grace Slick
Released on December 1971
US CHART POSITION #89
Find it at GEMM
FTR-1002 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

M omma and Daddy had a baby and then popped off this headtrip. While some couples make beautiful music together, the best that can be said of Sunfighter is that Paul and Grace are on the same strange trip together. The songs are hippy trippy acoustic numbers mixed with psychedelic blues, more glider than Airplane, as folky as it is freaky. The couple split songwriting and often share vocals, with harmonies that are sometimes sweet (“Diana 2”) and sometimes sour (“Look At The Wood”). Since neither partner is a succinct songwriter or prone to rigorous self-pruning, Sunfighter is an amorphous collection of psychedelic folk/blues songs with mind-candy moments (“Titanic,” “Universal Copernican Mumbles”) along the way. Grace Slick and Paul Kantner make much of the music on the album, so piano and guitar are often the main instruments, which renders the arrangements a little murky. If nothing on Sunfighter jumps out as memorable, the same could be said of back-to-the-country efforts in general, from The Kinks to the Grateful Dead. If this is a concept album (and it may well be), the concept must deal with raising a family together. In that context, “Silver Spoon” is Grace’s invitation to Paul, “Diana” and “Earth Mother” the roles that Grace will play, “China” their daughter (which she was) and the “wolfpack” their (extended?) family. Without a lyric sheet, however, I’m going on guesswork here. Paul Kantner always seemed more interested in telling stories than writing songs, as if whatever melodies popped up in the course of playing were good enough to support his tales. Grace Slick is the unknown quantity here, capable of digging her nails in (“Silver Spoon”) or drifting off into psychedelic speculation (“Look At The Wood”). Sunfighter is ultimately a speculative work, putting the pair’s yin/yang union into musical practice with mixed results. It remains a minor artifact of the early ‘70s, interesting if you’re a frequent flyer of Jefferson Airplane but otherwise inessential.

FTR-1002 inner gatefold FTR-1002 picture sleeve
FTR-1002 inner gatefold FTR-1002 picture sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. SILVER SPOON    (Grace Slick)    5:40
  2. DIANA - PART 1    (Grace Slick/Paul Kantner)    0:52
  3. SUNFIGHTER    (Paul Kantner)    3:50
  4. TITANIC    (Phil Sawyer)    2:25
  5. LOOK AT THE WOOD    (Grace Slick/Paul Kantner)    2:08
  6. WHEN I WAS A BOY I WATCHED THE WOLVES    (Grace Slick/Paul Kantner)    4:59
  7. MILLION    (Paul Kantner)    4:02
  8. CHINA    (Grace Slick)    3:17
  9. EARTH MOTHER    (Jack Traylor)    3:16
  10. DIANA - PART 2    (Grace Slick/Paul Kantner)    1:01
  11. UNIVERSAL COPERNICAN MUMBLES    (Pat Gleeson/John Vierra/Paul Kantner)    2:03
  12. HOLDING TOGETHER    (Grace Slick/Paul Kantner)    7:40

CREDITS

PAUL KANTNER --
GRACE SLICK -- heavy water light libretto booklet
Craig Chaquico -- guitar (9)
Maurice The Miracle Man --
Tru Engine Hearing Phil Sawyer --
Pat Ieraci -- engineer
Acy Lehman -- cover, booklet assistance
Mary Ann Mayer, Joan Chase -- lights inside
Gary Blackman -- booklet assistance

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US December 1971 Grunt LP FTR-1002 gatefold, booklet, picture sleeve
UK   Grunt LP AYL1-4385  
GER 1971 Grunt LP FTR-1002 blue label
UK April 1989 Essential LP/CD ESS 001  
US July 29, 1997 RCA CD 67421 digital remaster

Did you know...

...this album featured a 16-year-old Craig Chaquico playing guitar? He appears on "Earth Mother," a track written by Jack Traylor, who had been Chaquico's English teacher. (Source: SmoothViews interview, 2/06.)

 

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