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Take Me to a Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual

by:
Craig Fenton (Author)

ISBN: 0-7414-3656-6 ©2006
Price: $29.95
Book Size: 8.5" x 11" , 543 pages
Category/Subject: MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Rock

Ninety photos starting from 1963, including maybe the rarest one ever, 33 interviews, 266 questions and answers and a look at 121 live shows and sixty unreleased studio treasures.

Abstract:
The most comprehensive look at the live and unreleased (studio) history of the Jefferson Airplane ever compiled. 90 photos, 121 performances, 110 different songs, 33 Jams, a combination of 36 improvisations, riffs, and vocal teases are examined. Explore 60 unreleased, alternate, excerpts, Jams, demos, rehearsals, and rough mixes. Including the earliest authenticated studio recording, the demo for Columbia Records (That is correct) circa 8/65. Find 266 questions, and answers, regarding the Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, KBC Band, SVT, and Wooden Ships. For dessert, 33 interviews from Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, and San Francisco friends (Not quotes but interviews).

Click Here for a SNEAK PEEK of this book.

Customer Reviews

  The ultimate Airplane book for the ultimate band! , 11/23/2006
Reviewer: Jeff R. Son
Take Me To A Circus Tent: A review by Jeff R. Son The 22nd of November, 2006 Writing letters or reviews isn’t something that is common for me, however in getting to read a sneak-peak of Mr. Fenton’s masterpiece I would be depriving Airplane fans of a must read. Authors often times seem to write what is hot, hip, or what the publisher tells them is the flavor of the month. Mr. Fenton’s words are from the heart. I have never seen any Airplane fan with this much knowledge and the ability to share it as if it is a long time friend talking to you. You can see how fan friendly he is by the attention to every detail. If you enjoy photos he gave over 90 and there are pictures that are so rare I bet the band members don’t even own them. If your bag is the music, the look at the 121 live performances and 60 unreleased songs/jams/tid-bits from the vaults could grow hair on a bald person. He left no stone unturned. References to riffs that were played for only a matter of seconds, song titles that before were never mentioned. He could have stopped there and taken a bow but there are 266 questions and answers that look not only at the Airplane but Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, KBC Band, & Wooden Ships. The information is a treasure chest. To top off the most exquisite meal Mr. Fenton finishes the book with 32 interviews. What he did was always make the most use out of the time afforded for the conversation. You can tell he didn’t even need notes to conduct the interviews, because often times the musicians asked him stuff! If seeing a photo of David Freiberg as a folk performer from 63 or a concert bill (1964) with original bass-player Bob Harvey, or a group photo without Jorma doesn’t excite you, simply turn to the interviews with Marty, Paul and even Signe Anderson. If that doesn’t get your attention why not look at the first and last time a song was ever performed by the band, or find out the history of the group through the eyes of the people that were there. If you are looking for a holiday gift for a friend, co-worker or family member you have found it. If you are like me and often get the worst holiday presents that will set under a bed or get returned, treat yourself to what is under the circus tent. I’ll go now because I want to look at some of the amazing photos of Grace from the Great Society days and alternate covers to the 2nd record.

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  It is the one-stop Airplane book of greatness , 11/29/2006
Reviewer: Rod Evans
On an early November morning (11/28/06) the Airplane Express delivered Craig’s new book. My wife told me that I hadn’t been this excited about anything since her mom moved out of the house. Others have written books on the San Francisco bands, but Craig has created an “Encyclopedia.” I first went through the book for the photos. What an experience! To see so many pictures not in print before was enough to make the book worth double the price; however it didn’t stop there. I couldn’t believe the detail he went through to explain the terminology in the book and to make reading it for the Jefferson Family fan the most pleasurable experience possible. The interviews are done with such skill that I would match Craig’s ability to make the person he is talking with comfortable against any I have come across in my years as a rock and roll fan. Not only the comfort level, but also the ability to bring out such detail with all the musicians he spoke with. It wasn’t the same things that we read about since the 60’s. The story of one person attempting to get Janis Joplin to sing one of his songs really was a soap-opera. The question and answer portion will give new facts to the most hardcore individual. The information that Craig knows takes a back seat to nobody when it comes to the Airplane. Reading about the stuff Marty did with Bodacious D.F. and why they have that name as well as Jorma’s early works and Bob Harvey’s promo CD info was icing on the best tasting cake ever. For the holiday season think 1 gift first “Take Me To A Circus Tent.” There is something in the book, sorry the ENCYCLOPEDIA for all.

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  6 Stars not 5. The best J.A. book ever! , 12/02/2006
Reviewer: Wood N. Ships
To all Jefferson fans: I am always worried when there is hype to a book or CD. Would it live up to advanced billing? Craig's "Take Me To A Circus Tent" goes beyond anything I have seen. He is always making the musician feel comfortable. Several ask Craig to send them their own music! The insights and knowledge that he shows is impressive; however more impressive is how he is happy to give so much credit to others. There are so many things that haven't previously been brought up in interviews. If you take the total length of Craig's conversation with Marty I bet it is as long as any interview Marty has done in or out of the Jefferson Airplane/Starship. The pictures are a sight to admire. Don Aters is as good as anybody snapping a photo. Craig has made sure the book is all meat and no filler. There is a logical layout to each segment. I knew the book would be something special when I looked at the index. He supplied more names than several books combined. The amount of time he must have labored to get the obscure song titles proved this isn't an author doing it for the publisher, it is a fan doing it for us guys and girls. Craig even went as far to get all the names of the players on the Great Society reunion, and the 1964 concert Bill that has Bob Harvey, Jorma and Paul playing at the same venue but on different dates was the best job of dropping in "What is to come" that I have seen." I first thumbed through the genius for the pictures. Signe was so cute and innocent and the entire journey made me feel young again. Once I looked at the photos and digested over 90 of them, I went to the interview section. I was blown away with Craig's style and he is really funny. Read what he says to Jesse Barish when Jesse asked him for a video of a specific tune. I was on the floor. I am now going over the Question & Answer segment again because I want to gain the full impact. The San Francisco scene has never seen a book that has flown as high. Thank you Craig and I hope you have the opportunity to get the full credit via TV/Radio and the printed word. 6 Stars and a must for any Holiday!! From Wood N. Ships

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  The Crown Jewels of Jefferson Books , 12/05/2006
Reviewer: Ralph Dellio
To all fans: Finished Craig's book "Take Me To A Circus Tent" this morning. It deserves a label above Gold Medal Winner. The research must have taken countless hours but the love of the band is a lifetime. The question and answer portion has something that a fan of one day or a decade could really sink their teeth into. The greatest stuff is uncovered. When you get to the interviews it will be impossible to not read staight through. The pictures blow away anything prior because Craig gave us not only the most (I believe 90 or so) but countless not in print before. The photo that Tim Lucas supplied is worth the price of the book and when you have pictures from 1963 on, I don't need to go further. The live and studio segments finally put the right information together and the titles that I always wondered why they didn't have names before. The way Craig documented the entire 89 reunion or some of Marty's material was as if he were in the band. If we can give Craig a hand, we should. He did it the best way and did it without treading on any other author's Airplane or Jefferson Starship books prior. Craig you are a Gold Medal writer in a world of plastic. Buy the book and spread the word, the Airplane Man has landed.

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  Airplane Man reached the stars, 5 that is , 12/07/2006
Reviewer: Sam Rotis
There have been only a handful of rock and roll books that I couldn't put down over the years. Craig Fenton's Take Me To A Circus Tent is the latest and best. It is an empire created with not only the mind and hands but with the heart. His fondness for the Airplane and spin-offs is easy to see from the start of the book. The layout is wonderful. Each chapter not only takes you on a flight to a specific year but is named after a part of a song that fits the theme. When you are done with the live and studio information the questions and answers and interview sections are something you can marvel at. Look how the questions aren't the same 5 day old bread that have always been recycled. When it is time for the interviews I have never seen anyone do it better than Craig. It is one thing to be prepared, to be a fan, but Craig is so full of information it is great when the musicians ask if they did something or if he would send them the rarity. The Marty Balin interview is a Rollys Royce, the info from Signe was wonderful and getting the insight from 3 former Great Society members was a treat I never thought would happen. Not only the interviews but the photos of the band and the studio/live history. There are pictures in the book that are so special for their rare nature and beauty that I ask all you fine people to turn the pages slowly and soak in every second of the sunshine. It shines with a light of brilliance. I really respect that Craig didn't forget about the Signe period. Although Grace is my favorite singer ever, Craig tells a nice story of the early days with some photos that you'll love and the info about a few of the live dates, recording sessions, etc. Get 2 copies of the book. One for yourself and one for the old Airplane fan that you may not see hanging around the Jefferson Airplane or Jefferson starship boards but who still longs for the day when rock and roll was played with skill and lyrics were memorable. Craig you are really the Airplane Man and I hope the book Takes Off and all dreams are realized. Buy the book, buy the book and buy the book.

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  The most detailed American rock book ever , 12/09/2006
Reviewer: Rich Harrigon
Wednesday the Airplane book by Craig Fenton called Take Me To A Circus Tent came and it is the most detailed book I have ever read about any American music band. Why? The details excel not in 1 portion of the book but all that Craig used to construct. He points out for the live portion even if a riff of a song got played, the studio unreleased portion opens the door to the massive music hiding from us all these years, the photos out number any music book you can think of and the interviews don't waste time with why somebody doesn't date their highscool sweetheart anymore. The information Craig gets out of the different people is an A+. Many have talked about the great Marty Balin interview and Signe and Paul but his conversation with Craig Chaquico is a tribute to Fenton's wide knowledge of the artists history. One moment Craig talks about a great tune on Dragonfly and then is able to converse with Mr. Chaquico about the solo albums went he changed styles 360 degrees. The Bob Harvey and Jerry Peloquin transcripts are really super and you'll dig the Tom Constanten conversation with excellent questions about his days after playing with Jerrry and the guys. I was going to look up great big words but it is better I used the simple language and tell you this is 5 stars in every avenue it travels. A great gift for yourself and friends. To Craig thanks for giving me a reason to miss going to my loud and off the wall sister-in-law's house. I told the wife that I was doing a book review. Craig I owe you a 50.00 steak for getting me out of seeing her run her mouth every second for no reason.

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  The Airplane soars to new heights , 12/14/2006
Reviewer: Terry Sorenson
This was the best gift I have given myself. All the reviews thus far don’t even touch the surface of what Craig’s “Take Me To A Circus Tent” is all about. When you get the book you can see how articulate Craig is when he talks about the intro of the book and the page before the interviews begin. What sets him apart from so many other writers is his ability to write as if it is for one person. He talks as if he is hanging out with you. The information he gets from the performers is outstanding. For Craig to get Tim Gorman to talk about how Keith Moon of the Who was really replaced shows that it doesn’t matter if it is Airplane, Beatles, Stones, Who or the band down the block, he is a magician with information and a passion I have never come across for 60’s and 70’s rock and roll music. The interviews with the Airplane members are superlative but check out the conversation Craig has with Greg Douglass formerly of Hot Tuna and Jerry Miller of Moby Grape. I recommend three copies of the book. One to read, one to keep as a part of San Francisco history and one to give to somebody that is important to you. Craig, you are the Airplaneman, Hot Tunaman, KBC, etc. Thank you again and again and again.

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  The Circus Tent is alive with music , 12/20/2006
Reviewer: Old But Not In The Way
Take Me To A Circus Tent (The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual) by Craig Fenton is a must for the holiday season and every one that follows. Craig is a wizard when interviewing the members of the Airplane and family of spin-of bands. His history of a former radi odisc-jockey comes into play as he always seems to get the most out of the artist and makes each person feel as if they were friends for years. (Maybe they are). The book will give you a great live history lesson and one of the studio stuff that didn't get released. It is full of pictures that can top any other San Francisco based publication both on volume 93 and rareness. Right before page one of the book you will see a photo that has never surfaced before. Autogrpahed by the band in the early days and Paul signs it "Paul Airplane." As a bonus it has Signe Anderson and Skip Spence. Later on a mindbuster photo of the days with Jerry Peloquin and Bob Harvery (Before Skip Spence and Jack Casady). There is also over 250 questions and answers about the Airplane and Hot Tuna and the Jefferson Starship. Craig went all out and the words put you right at the corner of Haight-Ashbury and the he can get you back to the 60's with his special time machine. I don't write reviews for a living or claim to be in the music business, but for that very reason I think it is important to get insight from a typical Joe or Jane Airplane fan. Take a look under the tent and make sure the book is under your tree or bush for the holiday season and 2007. Thank you for the opportunity to post this and I'll return to reading the book again.

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  The best investment is in Jefferson , 12/28/2006
Reviewer: L.J. Silver
The Mrs. gave me Craig Fenton's Take Me To A Circus Tent (Although she used my credit card) for the holiday. I had seen the reviews and the comments on A-Deck and the Jefferson Airplane sight and knew I would be in for a great ride. What impressed me were the things that Craig thought of that normaly you wouldn't find. Having an interview with a former Airplane/Starship roadie that also played with Jorma was cool. Hearing first hand what goes on behind the scenes was another side of the rock I wanted to explore. Getting the one off song titles was nice after all these years and the question and answer segment felt as if Craig was a fly on the wall (Should I say plane) since the start. People have compiled rock books but I haven't seen one I enjoyed more. It is all things to all fans. If the Mrs. didn't use your credit card to get you a copy for the December holiday, book a flight for January. You can't be let down with all the info packed into over 540 pages. Signe and Grace look tremendous in the rare photos. I hope someday Craig thinks of a volume 2, that is if he has anything that he didn't already share with us. To all the fans young and old, grab a seat the ride is great and the author really cool.

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  The final ,definitive word , 01/20/2007
Reviewer: Glen Boyd
1/20/07 http://theglenblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/take-me-to-circus-tent-jefferson_20.html Blog Critics www.blogcritics.org I can only say to Glen Boyd thank you so much for the kind words. Blog Critics has days that 100,000 people visit the sight. The thanks also goes to the great people who supported the book, Don Aters, Rick Martin, Mike Somavilla, Rick McNamara and Jeff Tamarkin (For being a class act every minute of the day and for keeping the J.A. flying with his terrific contribution to rock and roll). Saturday, January 20, 2007 Glen Boyd Take Me To A Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual "The object of this book was not to reinvent the wheel, or in this case reinvent the Plane," author Craig Fenton explained to me earlier this week, describing his remarkable new book on the Jefferson Airplane. "The aim was rather to help the spread the word, and to keep the torch going of one of the greatest bands ever." Amen Brother. Make no mistake. Craig Fenton's Take Me To A Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual is not just any rock book. It is in fact, the final, definitive word on the music of the band which most defined the so-called psychedelic acid-rock "San Francisco" sound of the late sixties (the very sound which would define an entire generation). The fact is, this may be the most extensive, meticulously researched account of the music of any rock and roll band ever. Period. From a purely historical, and especially from a musical standpoint, Take Me To A Circus Tent delves as deeply into the sixties phenomenon that was the Jefferson Airplane as any rock and roll book ever has. But let's get one thing straight right up front. This is a book which focuses strictly on the music. If you are looking for one of those sex, drugs, and rock and roll exposes, you'd best look elsewhere. You are not going to find any tales of band members lying face down in a pool of their own vomit. Nor will you find the sort of acid-fueled sex-orgies which have characterized the written accounts of other rock stars from the sixties, fallen and otherwise. Not that Craig Fenton didn't have his chance however. In the extensive research that went into this book, Fenton was given what amounted to an all-access pass, resulting in rare footage such as this, a great clip from the Dick Cavett show in 1969 of the Airplane performing "Somebody To Love," with David Crosby sitting in:There are complete interviews (and opportunities to dish the dirt) with no less than 32 Jefferson Airplane insiders contained within the 543 pages of this book. These include everybody from original members Paul Kantner and Marty Balin (who says that Fenton "knows so much about the Jefferson Airplane family I had to ask him the questions"), to guys who were there like Moby Grape's Jerry Miller and Big Brother And The Holding Company's Peter Albin (who remembers the late JA drummer Spencer Dryden). These interviews make up the latter half of the book. For the first part, Fenton exhaustively and extensively recounts the complete history of every single song written, recorded or performed by the Jefferson Airplane, as well as it off-shoots such as Hot Tuna and the various Jefferson Starship aggregations. The result is the sort of scholarly work that could have only come from the pen of a true music obsessive. Craig Fenton is basically an Airplane archivist. From his roots as a fan who discovered the Airplane after hearing "The Ballad Of You Me & Pooneil" on progressive rock station WNEW in the sixties, to his own career in rock radio, he has meticulously documented the evolution --the flight path if you will-- of the Jefferson Airplane. In Take Me To A Circus Tent, no less than 121 Jefferson Airplane shows are broken down song by song. There are also some 93 photos, many of which have never been seen before. But we are not just talking about photos and setlists here. Fenton breaks down everything from the first and final performances of individual songs; who played what and when; to songs never before officially documented at all. On page 149 for example, we learn of an incredible show performed in San Bernadino where the songs "Wooden Ships," and "Volunteers" were performed for the very first time. Later, we learn of a show in 1969 at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park days later where "Good Shepherd" is debuted, but sung by Grace Slick, rather than the version sung by Jorma Kaukonen on the Volunteers album. That's the type of detail we are talking about here. However, Take me To A Circus Tent is by no means complete. How could it be? By his own yardstick, Craig Fenton refused to include any information on shows or performances that he could not confirm either through interviews or tapes from his own rather extensive archives. For example, I had no luck finding my own point of reference to a 1969 show in Honolulu, Hawaii where I had my first exposure to the powers of Jefferson Airplane's live performances myself. As a thirteen year old attending that show at Honolulu's Civic Auditorium, I met the band on a day that also saw one of Hot Tuna's earliest performances opening for JA. Paul Kantner was also busted for marijuana posession that very day in Honolulu near Diamond Head. Still, this book is about as complete as rock books get. Word to the wise though. It is also laid out as something of a master thesis. This is definitely a book intended more to be painstakingly analyzed then it is to be read from cover to cover. Regardless, I would consider Take Me To A Circus Tent: The Jeferson Airplane Flight Manual your personal reference guide to one of the greatest rock bands ever. As rock and roll books go, this truly is as complete as it gets.

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  A Mesmerizing book! , 01/21/2007
Reviewer: Brandon Daviet
Despite being cut from a genetically different cloth, sports fanatics and music fanatics have a thing or two in common. While most sports fans usually pine over self-preservation and athletic skill, music fans (I’m a card-carrying member of the latter, for the record) tend to lean more towards slacking off and inventing new methods of self-destruction. One of the two camps' common traits lies in their undying, obsessive love for their chosen heroes. Sports fanatics tend to spend their time documenting performance statistics while music fanatics document musical performances and the comments made about them. Overall it’s the same kind of thing and is really just another facet of the human race's infatuation with fame and celebrity. For author Craig Fenton, his fan-boy obsession centers around the comings and goings of Jefferson Airplane, the highly psychedelic band that formed in the womb of the legendary ‘60s San Francisco music scene. Jefferson Airplane is perhaps most famous for introducing the world, and Hunter S. Thompson’s drugged-up lawyer, to the song "White Rabbit". But the story of Jefferson Airplane, who have also been known in leaner times as Jefferson Starship, is far more involved than many people know, as Fenton details lovingly in his new book: Take Me To A Circus Tent (The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual). Circus Tent is a treat for both hardcore fans of Jefferson Airplane and casual listeners alike. While I consider myself a fairly well-read music fan, my exposure to Jefferson Airplane has been mostly limited to owning a copy of Surrealistic Pillow, buying the soundtrack to the 1987 movie Mannequin for the song “We Built This City,” and seeing guitarist and the band's founder Paul Kantner perform the album Blows Against the Empire for a small crowd at a bar I worked in several years ago. Fenton, on the other hand, knows his stuff - and the book is a mind-boggling, phonebook-size documentation of the band's history. The book shares a lot in style with the Deadbase, the meticulously compiled history of the live performances of the Grateful Dead that any Deadhead worth his weight in patchouli oil owns. The main difference being that while The Grateful Dead and their fans carefully documented the band's career from day one, Jefferson Airplane's history relies more on recollection than historical record. In any event, Take Me to a Circus Tent is a mesmerizing book that will provide anyone who picks it up with hours upon hours of enjoyment. This is truly a unique book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the roots of psychedelic music or the band who once asked the world, “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love?”

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  Fenton Knows his stuff, the book is mind-boggling , 01/21/2007
Reviewer: Brandon Daviet
• Brandon Daviet Flies with Author Craig Fenton and The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual Book Review: Take Me to a Circus Tent (The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual) by Craig Fenton Published: January 20, 2007 Type: Review Section: Books Filed Under: Books: Nonfiction, Books: Entertainment, Books: Biography, Music: Rock Writer: Brandon Daviet Brandon Daviet's BC Writer page Brandon Daviet's personal site Despite being cut from a genetically different cloth, sports fanatics and music fanatics have a thing or two in common. While most sports fans usually pine over self-preservation and athletic skill, music fans (I’m a card-carrying member of the latter, for the record) tend to lean more towards slacking off and inventing new methods of self-destruction. One of the two camps' common traits lies in their undying, obsessive love for their chosen heroes. Sports fanatics tend to spend their time documenting performance statistics while music fanatics document musical performances and the comments made about them. Overall it’s the same kind of thing and is really just another facet of the human race's infatuation with fame and celebrity. For author Craig Fenton, his fan-boy obsession centers around the comings and goings of Jefferson Airplane, the highly psychedelic band that formed in the womb of the legendary ‘60s San Francisco music scene. Jefferson Airplane is perhaps most famous for introducing the world, and Hunter S. Thompson’s drugged-up lawyer, to the song "White Rabbit". But the story of Jefferson Airplane, who have also been known in leaner times as Jefferson Starship, is far more involved than many people know, as Fenton details lovingly in his new book: Take Me To A Circus Tent (The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual). Circus Tent is a treat for both hardcore fans of Jefferson Airplane and casual listeners alike. While I consider myself a fairly well-read music fan, my exposure to Jefferson Airplane has been mostly limited to owning a copy of Surrealistic Pillow, buying the soundtrack to the 1987 movie Mannequin for the song “We Built This City,” and seeing guitarist and the band's founder Paul Kantner perform the album Blows Against the Empire for a small crowd at a bar I worked in several years ago. Fenton, on the other hand, knows his stuff - and the book is a mind-boggling, phonebook-size documentation of the band's history. The book shares a lot in style with the Deadbase, the meticulously compiled history of the live performances of the Grateful Dead that any Deadhead worth his weight in patchouli oil owns. The main difference being that while The Grateful Dead and their fans carefully documented the band's career from day one, Jefferson Airplane's history relies more on recollection than historical record. In any event, Take Me to a Circus Tent is a mesmerizing book that will provide anyone who picks it up with hours upon hours of enjoyment. This is truly a unique book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the roots of psychedelic music or the band who once asked the world, “Don’t You Want Somebody to Love?” • • • • • • Take Me to a Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual Craig, Fenton Book, Usually ships in 24 hours

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  The Flight Should Go On Forever , 02/07/2007
Reviewer: Larry The 60's Guy Ladler
So the other day it is another birthday, boo hiss for me. Being old is no joy but............ There was a moment that blew me away. I got as a gift Craig Fenton's new Jefferson Airplane book (I refer to it as the Jefferson Everything book) and it delivered the goods first class. I had read many great reviews and thought there had to be something to this. I didn't pick it up and am sorry I waited until it came to me as a gift. The photos are so plentiful that if you want a treat the first time you open the book flip through all of them. To cover as much as Fenton did with pictures is worthy of a few stars but the main course is the actual attention to detail. How he got so much information into the book is a magic trick I want to know and the interviews are well constructed with knowledge, humor and the true fan he is. I could use big words from my college days but the best approach is this Get The Book. You'll dig the question and answer segment, you will be glued to the photos and you will not be pulled away from the book when he gets into all the unreleased material that is documented for us. Way to go Mr. Fenton and I hope you have a book signing everywhere.

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  Most comprehensive and definitive work , 03/11/2007
Reviewer: Steven Rosen
3/10/07 There is a distinct charm and allure when you read the words of a writer who loves his subject. Author Craig Fenton adores his. Here is the most comprehensive and definitive work you'll ever want to read on the classic San Francisco Summer of Love band, Jefferson Airplane. Every detail about the band's recordings, live performances, side projects, album tracks, singles, television appearances, collaborations, and anything else you might be able to think of lies in these 500-plus pages. There is so much information provided that it's almost impossible to simply sit and read this cover to cover. Rather, you need to put on Surrealistic Pillow , turn the lights low, fire up a ... (candle, what did you think I was going to say?) and read a section at a time. As you listen to those marvelous tracks looking for a foothold in your head, you can read about the history of each song. "The first single released was 'My Best Friend,'" explains an Airplane insider in the extensive interview section. "Very possibly the weakest tune on the record. It was also written by Skip Spence. Skip by this time is obviously out of the band. If we pretend the single sold well you are now promoting somebody that is on another record label. If the public enjoyed that style how will you recreate the song when the writer is with Moby Grape? Nobody could have predicted the well-deserved success of 'White Rabbit,' but if you went through the LP for potential singles, 'Plastic Fantastic Lover,' 'Somebody To Love,' 'Today' and 'White Rabbit' are light years better as an album track, single release, and/or live tune." At the end of the song, as it falls into that ascending diminished sequence of chords and segues into "Today," one of the most remarkable songs the group ever recorded, you're able to read about the sessions and glean maybe just a little bit of insight as to what it may have been like to have been there. It is 1967, and the world is full of possibilities - and with Fenton's new work, we can once again relive those moments through the words and wit of man who understands this very important group of musicians as clearly as anyone ever has. Even if you don't read every word, the photos are priceless and timeless. Herb Greene, the man responsible for the iconic Surrealistic Pillow cover provides a tremendous selection of portraits and group shot. In the bookstore, you'll find bios on rap bands, boy bands, girl bands, rock bands, and pop bands. It's unlikely that even a small percentage of them will be remembered in ten years time. Here, 40-plus years later, the Jefferson Airplane still occupy a place in our hearts and our heads. This book will bring their music and their lives back to you. Fenton has done outstanding work here. You can't help but be moved by the depth of his passion for one the world's truly significant group of musicians. Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Steven Rosen, 2007

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  A Circus Tent Like No Other , 07/22/2007
Reviewer: Mark "Sea Of Green"
The greatest compliment I can give an author is where the book ends up upon its conclusion. If it is filed away the second the last words have been comprehended, it hadn't made a significant enough impression. Mr. Fenton's Jefferson Airplane book "Take Me To A Circus Tent" isn't ever going to far from my arms reach. I was pleasantly surprised with the tremendous effort he put forward. The first inclination to the books brilliance was a photo before the meat and potatoes. My eyes were fixated on a picture of the pre-Grace and Spencer period of the band. Seeing both Skip Spence and Signe Anderson represented together was an obvious clue Mr. Fenton would give us the history lesson from the roots to the last time on stage. As the story is being told the interspersing of over ninety photos may very well be unparalleled. The sheer amount will engage any fan in wanting a copy of the book. It isn't only the quantity but the percentage that have not been previously available. Herb Greene who provided the cover to the Airplane's second album "Surrealistic Pillow" provides his magical photography on a great many of the shots. These include not only the Airplane but some outstanding pictures from Grace Slick with the Great Society. It is one thing for a fan to be passionate about Mr. Fenton's book but is evident the respect it commanded from those that were there for the ride. Marty Balin has a quote on the back cover "Craig Fenton knows so much about the Jefferson Airplane and Family, I was asking him the questions." The original bass-player Bob Harvey supplied Mr. Fenton with a rare photo of his bluegrass group way back when (Slippery Rock String Band) and one he took of Marty at the Airplane Mansion. Besides a look at 120 live performances and roughly 60 studio songs that were alternate versions, rehearsals, or demos, Mr. Fenton's main course may be the interview section. There are over thirty transcribed interviews from the Airplane and family. Here is where Mr. Fenton's passion for the band is evident. No matter how knowledgeable you are about the Airplane if you keep track of every piece of information that surfaces during the conversations his knowledge will astonish you. "Take Me To A Circus Tent" is a tribute to one of the finest bands to ever record and hit the stage. Mr. Fenton makes you feel as if you were there all along. A most excellent book!

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  Essential Jefferson Reference Book , 01/23/2008
Reviewer: Kathy Miller McCarthy
Lately I've been compelled to go back to where I once belonged and rediscover all things Jefferson. Maybe it's the eerie parallel to the late '60's - illegal and immoral war, lying despotic presidency, the Haves & Have More approach to the economy. But I've dusted off the vinyl, bought the recent surplus of live CDs, been cruising A-Deck regularly. I often looked at this book, and finally bought it. It's the size of the telephone book. I first used it to find all the Airplane concerts I attended - from Hunter College & Fillmore East shows to the 1972 topless Grace Slick finale at Gaelic Park, and the 1989 reunion gig at Jones Beach. I needed all of Craig Fenton's research to determine what I heard at these historic shows. My mind was probably altered at the time, and frankly, even if it wasn't, aging alone has done a number on my brain cells. This book is the perfect grazing companion. Reading through the set lists inspire rampant jealousy of the "I wish I'd been there THAT night!" or "Does anybody have a decent tape of THAT?" varieties. But it doesn't stop with set lists, it goes on with annotated notes on concerts, discographies, interviews, FAQ, previously unreleased photos, etc. It is impossible to digest all at once ala "Got To Revolution" but it is the perfect companion piece to that tome. How did he get this stuff? Hat's off to Craig Fenton, and for keeping the lamps trimmed and burning! Well done!

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  The best San Francisco rock book period , 09/11/2008
Reviewer: Eddie Elmonti
It is fitting that one of the great rock and roll bands ever the Jefferson Airplane can have a book so thorough in its scope that even the most hardcore fan can learn a great deal. What Craig Fenton the author has done is create the best San Francisco rock book to date. Having over 30 interviews was enough to have me on board the plane but the knowledge he shows solidified how content I am with the purchase. Relaxed, friendly, and one to one. It doesn't get better. With almost 100 photos that bring the story to life, you are right on stage with the band. Speaking of stage, Craig looks at over 100 concerts the Airplane played, the songs performed, has a question and answer segment that will blow you away, and even found time and space to include a bunch on the Great Society, and what is in the vaults as far as unreleased music. Worth twice the price!

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