Friday, January 31, 2014

Grace Slick - Software

Yesterday (January 30th) marked the thirtieth anniversary of Software, the fourth and last (to date) solo studio album from Grace Slick, lead singer of Jefferson Airplane in the 60's and Jefferson Starship in the 70's. This 1984 release stalled at number 206 on the US Billboard Album chart. Most of the tracks featured lyrics written by Slick and music by Austrian musician Peter Wolf (not to be confused with the member of the J. Geils Band); Wolf also played keyboards and synth bass on the record.

Side one opens with "Call It Right, Call It Wrong", a thought-provoking piece about the cultural diversity between the Eastern and the Western worlds.

"Me and Me", a song about someone who is living comfortably with a multiple personality disorder, is next up.

"All the Machines" was released as the first single, with an instrumental version as the B-side. It opens with a thundering tribal beat and a grinding guitar. The lyrics comment on how machines had infiltrated so many aspects of life at the time. Given how connected and online we are today with computers, smart phones and such, things in 1984 seems so antiquated.

"Fox Face", with its cautious sound, closes out the first half. It talks about an odd looking young man who has become the subject of tabloids.

Side two starts with "Through the Window", the second single. It has a strong new-wave sound thanks to the synthesizers.

"It Just Won't Stop" keeps along the same vein musically. The song is about facing the futility of situations.

"Habits" was chosen at the B-side to the second single. This slower, introspective tune is about looking at one's life and trying to change those negative behaviors that have become second nature.

"Rearrange My Face" is about making a decision to change one's outlook in hopes to change one's circumstances. It sort of goes hand in hand with the last song, but this one delivers the message in a catchy, up-tempo way.

"Bikini Atoll" closes the record out on a stiff and serious note. Near the end, the music and tempo pick up in such a way that they remind me of a speeding train.

Software was only released on vinyl back in 1984, so I was worried that finding this one to listen to online would be a challenge. Lucky, YouTube came to the rescue once again. I found it to be an interesting listen with a couple of the tracks that really captured my attention. It was interesting to see how Slick was adapting to the changing music landscape of the mid-80's. At times, she really hits it well.

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