'Venusian Love Songs' is the second volume of a series of CDs, Paul Kantner and the Windowpane Collective, planned to bring out. The first was 'A Martian Christmas,' and in keeping with the seasonal theme. 'Venusian Love Songs' was scheduled for release on Valentine’s Day in 2011.

Paul Kantner passed away in January 2016. Like many of his generation, he was fascinated by space and planetary spheres. Airplanes and spaceships were part of the mid-20th century story, and it isn’t surprising that this interest was reflected in the names of bands for which he was so closely associated, Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship. The sixties were a time for opening up inner space as well as outer space and the psychedelic, soaring music of Jefferson Airplane was part of its soundtrack.

This album is made up of music that reflects his past, through collaborations with musicians from throughout his long career. They create fresh versions of well-known songs, some their own, some by other people as diverse as the Beatles and Heart, Bob Dylan and Ewan MacColl, Bono, Van Morrison and Vangelis. It’s a double CD, and it’s a celebration of love.

The first disc kicks off with a version of U2’s 'Pride' ('In The Name Of Love') remixed by The Duke of New York. This is followed by a wonderful mix of the song, 'Miracles' with Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. There’s something so poignant about the lilting melody and the desperate hope of King’s words. 'Today,' written by Paul Kantner and Marty Balin follows, beautifully sung by Darby Gould. Kantner provides the harmonies.

There’s a snatch of an instrumental, 'Meadowlands,' before we are treated to a rousing version of the Beatles’ 'All You Need Is Love.' Vangelis’ 'Love Theme' from Bladerunner, takes us from instrumental, back to song with David Freiberg’s lead vocal on Van Morrison’s 'Crazy Love'. Cathy Richardson takes the lead on a version of Heart’s 'Crazy On You'. Paul Kantner’s rendition of 'Girl In The Wood' takes us into traditional American folk music, leading the way into a beautiful version of 'The Trees They Do Grow High', sung by Darby Gould. Marty Balin’s 'We Flew Away,' recorded in 1993, follows and Disc One ends with a wonderful love-to-the-end-of time themed song, 'Fifteen Years After' by Jack Traylor.

As a compilation of songs to celebrate and explore aspects of love, this is great. But wait! There’s more to come.

Disc Two starts with Paul Kantner’s mature and gravelly tones singing Dylan’s end-of-the affair song, 'Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright'. Next David Freiberg gives us a heartfelt version of Ewan MacColl’s 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. Jack Traylor’s 'East Virginia' takes us into the world of dark, country-folk, murder ballads. Linda Imperial’s soulful 'Just Right' lifts the mood. Marty Balin’s 'instrumental Hearts' gives us a breathing space before Darby Gould breaks our hearts again with her version of 'Love Has No Pride'. Paul Kantner treats us to a recitation of a poem by Otto Rene Castillo, 'My Desire For You,' in praise of physical passion. The next song, Kantner’s, 'I’m on Fire' is about passion for politics, for righting wrongs and bearing witness, harking back to 'A Dream of Miracles' on Disc One.

Surprisingly the CD ends with a Rodgers and Hart classic, 'My Romance,' sung by Linda Imperial and David Freiberg.

By the end of the collection, we have been from Hollywood to the Folk Revival, from the
Sixties to the future, from the Beatles to the Blues. The spacey, psychedelic sounds of Kantner and his collective of musicians and singers are familiar. Jefferson Airplane’s music was the soundtrack to my teenage years and I even got to see them at the Bath Festival in 1970. This collection is like one of those great cassette mix tapes we used to do. Venus must be thrilled and I can’t fault it, though if I was given the task of putting an album of 'Venusian Love Songs' together, I would have been tempted to add 'Somebody To Love'.

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