Blows Against the Empire

The Classic Psychedelic Rock Album

Blows Against the Empire

Blows Against the Empire was released in 1970 by Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. The recording is a concept album that tells the story of a counter-culture revolution and a plan to steal a starship from orbit and journey into space in search of a new home. The lyrics celebrate the late-sixties counter-culture, depicting a group of young people who condemn the divisive strictures of an oppressive society and dream of forming a Utopia in outer space. Musically, the songs range from light folk music to hard rock, and are delivered in the improvised, free-form rock & roll known as the “San Francisco Sound” that changed forever the sound of popular music.

Begun as the demos for the follow-up to Jefferson Airplane’s successful Volunteers album, it became a Paul Kantner solo project when a number of key Jefferson Airplane members were otherwise involved. At first, Blows Against the Empire was a collaboration of Kantner with the Airplane’s lead singer Grace Slick, but soon evolved into an all-star lineup of the West Coast music scene. The album features musical, vocal and songwriting contributions from Jerry Garcia, David Crosby, Graham Nash, David Freiberg of Quicksilver Messenger Service, Miles Davis-alum Harvey Brooks, and Grateful Dead percussionists Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. Kantner dubbed this musical collective the Jefferson Starship to acknowledge the science fiction theme of the material, a name he still uses for his current band.

By Kantner's own admission, the underlying premise of the narrative was derived in part from the works of science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, particularly the novel Methuselah's Children. Living up to that standard, Blows Against the Empire was the first rock album ever to be nominated for the science fiction world’s prestigious Hugo Award, in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation.


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