Friday, December 17, 2004

3: Find Your Way Back

Today we'll be looking at one of CAPTAIN VIDEO!'s favorite bands, Jefferson Starship--or Starship, or Jefferson Airplane, or whatever the hell they're calling themselves these days. The Starship belongs to an elite group in the music world, one consisting of musicians who began their careers with bright promise and seemingly unimpeachable credibility--only to frantically piss it all away as career twilight approached. In Starship's case, this was accomplished by joining forces with Mickey Thomas, the vocally talented but musically inane Elvin Bishop Band singer. It may seem unfair to pin all of the Starship's many sins on one person, but in this case, it's warranted. Within a decade, Thomas' enervating influence changed the band from a respected (if commercially foundering) relic of the Summer of Love into a vapid, soulless crap factory whose albums were reviled by thinking people everywhere.

The low point, of course, is 1986's towering masterpiece of pop stupidity, "We Built This City." CAPTAIN VIDEO! has no interest in dissecting that particular video. We all saw it a million times when it was popular, and these days, those snarky chumps at VH1 won't stop making it part of whatever list show they're scheduling the everloving fuck out of. Today, we'll be taking a look at a lesser-known entry in the Starship ouevre: "Find Your Way Back," from 1981's Modern Times. (Side note: while Modern Times is indeed one of the least creative album titles of the 1980s, the Starship shattered the stupidity barrier with 1984's Nuclear Furniture. Sometimes it's best not to get too fancy.) You know the song--all forced drama and phony emotion, dragged along by the feeble pulse of Aynsley Dunbar's airless drums; lots of awful squawking from Mickey Thomas; keyboards and guitars that sound like neither should. Oh, wait, that describes pretty much every Starship song since 1978, doesn't it? Maybe some stills from the video will jog your memory:


Glowing instruments!


Hurry up and suck!

The video's storyline seems to center around some kind of leather-clad alien woman who has had her heart broken by the band (even Grace Slick? Hmm) and carries a glowing white orb with her wherever she goes. These parts of "Find Your Way Back" are no better or worse, really, than any of the other videos from the period that had their budgets converted into convenient white powder form and snorted before a single frame was filmed. It's low-budget pretending to be high-concept! Hello, alien woman!



Alien woman doesn't do much and says even less. The only reason we know she's got a beef with Jefferson Starship is that she tears up a picture of the band and throws it in the air:



And, I mean, most of the Jefferson Airplane's old fans were probably doing that in 1981. Or at least tearing Mickey Thomas out of the band photo. And speaking of Mickey Thomas, Jesus Christ, would you look at this:



CAPTAIN VIDEO! can't believe his eyes! What was the director thinking? (There's no point in asking what Mickey Thomas was thinking.) It seems altogether fair to say that at no point in the history of music video--and this includes the various cameo appearances of Ron Jeremy--has any man ever looked more like he has just wandered off the set of a porno flick. It's difficult to select the worst part of Thomas' ensemble, but CAPTAIN VIDEO! is going to go with the striped tie, still tucked into his shirt from that last-minute trip to the bathroom to score a little blow. Mickey Thomas looks like such a tool, he even out-tools the other members of the band. Craig Chaquico, you look like Derek Smalls:



The only thing that would be funnier is if Chaquico were playing a--oh, never mind, he is:



And the only thing funnier than that is Mickey Thomas.



But wait! There's more! Thomas turns during Paul Kantner's mercifully brief guitar solo, pumps his fist as if to signify that he is about to rock, and grabs a tambourine. Grace Slick, who has thus far avoided being in the same shot with Mickey, must have been too coked out to notice what was happening. Otherwise, CAPTAIN VIDEO! is certain she would have swung her mike stand around and clubbed Mickey Thomas in his stupid head with it. Then she would have made him eat that tambourine. And then, mercifully, she would have broken up the band once and for all. But no:



At the end of the video, the alien woman--instead of attacking the band with enormous laser cannons--uses her alien magic to put their picture back together. This is a classic example of power gone to waste. If she can reassemble a piece of paper that has been torn to bits, it would seem reasonable for the viewer to surmise that she could have done something that might have made an actual difference in the world, like, say, atomizing Mickey Thomas. But no. The picture is restored and the band is safe to go on testing the boundaries of lame for another ten years. Curse you, alien woman!


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