Marty Balin is best known as the co-founder and soaring tenor voice of the Jefferson Airplane, and later, Jefferson Starship. This show, recorded in the fall of 1981, was captured on Balin's first post-Starship solo tour and features mostly material from his successful debut album, Balin. He had assembled a cracker-jack touring band that included Johnny DeCaro on guitar and percussionist Steve Forman. By the time he recorded Balin, he had made a pretty drastic musical transformation since his earlier days as the "cynical" member of the legendary San Francisco psychedelic-rock band. Gone were the sharp-tongued anti-war protest songs with the piercing vibrato electric guitar solos of Jorma Kaukonen, and the thunderous bottomed-out bass of Jack Casady; and noticeably absent were the signature harmonies he'd made with Grace Slick and Paul Kantner. Balin, instead, had become one of the most popular contemporary singers of adult love songs, charting hits with names like "Hearts" and "Atlanta Lady."
Nevertheless, this show demonstrates Balin's still formidable abilities as fire-tongued rock 'n' roller. Consider crunchers like "Out On The Fringe" and "What Do You People Like?" (the latter which he'd written and contributed to a science fiction film that never came out). Balin, for the most part, picks up right where he left off with the Starship, when he was pushing the band to the top of the charts with love songs like "Miracles" and "Count On Me." Listening to this show a quarter century after it was recorded, Balin still sounds great, and the songs are solid - even if the instrumentation (especially the keyboards and guitar) does sound dated. As was common in the early '80s, there is an overabundance of raspy synthesizers and metallic Journey-like electric guitars.
Born Martyn Jerel Buchwald in Cincinnati, OH, Balin moved with his parents to the Bay Area at an early age. He grew up in San Francisco, and after attending college there, changed his name to Marty Balin and began a career as a folk singer. He recorded two unnoticed albums before forming Jefferson Airplane in 1965 with friend Paul Kantner as one of the earliest folk-rock bands. The group was signed to RCA, and before they made their second album, they recruited vocalist Grace Slick.
After they scored a massive hit with two songs Slick contributed ("Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit"), Jefferson Airplane became one of the cornerstone acts that launched the youth and drug movements of the 1960s. Balin was critical of the band's musical direction and image, and ego clashes with Kantner finally forced him to leave the band in 1971. He would rejoin them in the re-named Jefferson Starship in 1974. After contributing many of the hits that took the Starship to the top of the charts, Balin again saw the writing on the wall, and left when they were at the height of their career.
"I began backing off because I saw the band getting too big," said Balin, in an interview conducted during the time this show was recorded. "I'm into the guerilla sense of a rock band. I'm not a corporation." Balin would make one more solo album with EMI Records and this band before falling back into another Starship offshoot project. Fans of Balin, or any of the various Airplane incarnations, will love the chance to hear Balin here.