Jefferson Starship – Red Octopus

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Reviews and Commentaries for The Jefferson Airplane

  • A superb sounding copy with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, tons of energy and virtually none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… there can be little doubt that it was Balin’s irresistible ballad “Miracles,” the biggest hit single in the Jefferson Whatever catalog, that propelled Red Octopus to the top of the charts, the only Jefferson album to chart that high and the best-selling album in their collective lives.”

This vintage Grunt pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1975
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Red Octopus

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Fast Buck Freddie
Miracles
Git Fiddler
Ai Garimasu (There Is Love)
Sweeter Than Honey

Side Two

Play On Love
Tumblin
I Want To See Another World
Sandalphon
There Will Be Love

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Technically speaking, Red Octopus was the first album credited to Jefferson Starship, though practically the same lineup made Dragon Fly, credited to Grace Slick/Paul Kantner/Jefferson Starship. The difference, however, was crucial: Marty Balin was once again a fully integrated bandmember, writing or co-writing five of the ten tracks. And there can be little doubt that it was Balin’s irresistible ballad “Miracles,” the biggest hit single in the Jefferson Whatever catalog, that propelled Red Octopus to the top of the charts, the only Jefferson album to chart that high and the best-selling album in their collective lives.

Like Dragon Fly, Red Octopus reflected a multiplicity of musical tastes; there were ten credited songwriters, seven of whom were in the band. If there is any consistency in this material, it is in subject matter (love songs). The album is more ballad-heavy and melodic than the Airplane albums, which made it more accessible to the broader audience it reached, though “Sweeter Than Honey” is as tough a rocker as the band ever played.

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