Jefferson Starship Jefferson Starship 
Windows of Heaven
(CMC)


Once you’re a famous rock icon, how much do you have to decay before nobody will embarrass you and themselves by releasing your work? Apparently a lot. I’ve heard local bands with no money or studio experience who have made better albums than this.

Prairie Prince provides some pounding percussion work (this Starship doesn’t deserve him) and newcomer Diana Mangano wails and soars in a decent Grace Slick imititation (did we need one?). Slick herself turns up to guest on a reggae based eco-friendly anthem about saving the world called “I’m On Fire” but Paul Kantner is simply painful as a vocalist and songwriter. He incessantly quotes other writers, philosophers and poets – his outdated name-dropping hippie rhetoric and delivery on “The Light” sound about like what would happen if your average drunken grandfather fronted a rock band with a bravado borne of blindness. At the end of “Shadowlands” the band fades out while he continues to babble on with drugged-out poetry like: “Get with it, hide in the mouth of the dragon...” This stuff may have been cool 25 years ago, but it sounds false, pompous and foolish today.

Marty Balin has weathered better than Kantner, and a couple of the ballads he fronts here are passable. But ultimately, this is an album that blunders blindly on, never realizing that it reached a dead end before it began.

A ten-foot pole would be too short.

 

Dusty Springfield Dusty Springfield  
Dusty In Memphis
Dusty In London

(Rhino)


Now if you’re looking for some late ‘60s sounding music that is authentically period and yet new at the same time, Rhino may have just the thing. The re-release label has reissued Dusty Springfield’s 1969 album Dusty in Memphis featuring the hits “Son of a Preacher Man” and “The Windmills of Your Mind,” with more bonus tracks than there are original album sides! The original album featured 11 songs; Rhino’s expanded release features 25, most of which were recorded at the same time as the rest of the album, but remained unreleased.

Likewise, Dusty in London features her “Lost British Recordings,” 24 songs which were recorded between 1968 and 1971 but remained mostly unreleased in this country. Some of these tracks will be familiar anyway, as many of them are covers that other artists of the time made famous, including “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart,” a hit for Janis Joplin and “How Can I Be Sure,” a hit on these shores for The Young Rascals. While the string-heavy arrangements are a bit treacly and dated, Springfield’s delicate and sultry delivery on these songs is still inspiring 30 years after their recording.

Listening to these releases is like discovering a hidden treasure amid those beaten up, warped, scratchy Perry Como records in your parents’ basement...only without the scratches.

 

NKOTB New Kids On The Block 
Greatest Hits
(Columbia)


OK, I admit it. I didn’t understand the attraction to the New Kids when their first song topped the charts a decade ago. And there have certainly been some more talented male vocal groups to emerge since their shooting stardom. So when this belated hits collection turned up, I looked to it to give me a fresh perspective on the “talents” of the New Kids.

Don’t try this at home.

Some of these songs are even weaker than I remember them. But if you always wanted to have “Step By Step,” “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever),” their shameless Beatles ripoff “Tonight” and my personal favorite, “Cover Girl” (there, I admitted it, I liked one NKOTB song) this is the disc for you.

There are 14 tracks in all, along with an advertisement for an upcoming solo album by youngest Kid, Joey McIntyre, due next month.

I’ll be “Hangin’ Tough” until that one comes out.

 

Nancy Wilson Nancy Wilson  
Live at McCabes Guitar Shop
(Epic)
½


This is about as lowkey as its title would lead you to believe. For the unHeartful, Nancy is the lesser sung sister in the Heart center ring; despite a hit with “These Dreams,” sister Ann has done most of the Heart hit-singing, while Nancy played ace guitar behind her. This disc gives her the chance to bang on her acoustic guitar and mandolin and show off her own vocal chops, with some friends in the background. She opens with a bluesy strum of Heart’s “Even It Up” and near the close handles a soulful “These Dreams” proving herself worthy of the gig, but, given the “unplugged” nature of the situation, she doesn’t strike a very electrifying first impression. In between she offers some folky originals and covers of Paul Simon’s “Kathy’s Song,” Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and a nice strummer on Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.”

With its mix of covers and lightweight acoustic originals, performed in a live setting, this is more a curiosity piece than a solid first solo record.