Going back in time… Early seventies, former century (November 1970) Everything is nice with this album. The title is epic, the cover, both outside and inside is beautiful, The music, big and simple, very divers. The lyrics ànd the


musicians. Jack Casady’s bass and Grace Slicks’piano are the backbone but Jerry Garcia’s inspired (steel)guitar plying is so uplifting.

The cover featured a piece of Russian folk art from a painted lacquer box, attributed to CCCP (U.S.S.R. in Russian).

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The inner dust jacket was decorated with collages of musician photos, writings and doodles. Original pressings included a full-color booklet as well, with lyrics, poetry and drawings mostly done by Slick during the recording sessions and collected daily by Kantner.

It started as a Paul Kantner solo project but it evolved into a real ‘Jefferson’ album. A lot of guest-musicians, most from the bay area. And the sessions led directly to Crosby’s solo masterpiece, If Only I Could Remember My Name, which features many of the same players and was recorded around the same time. But as Davids Crosby first solo album is (now) graded as a masterwork, this album is still mostly overlooked and underrated. Blows Against The Empire didn’t contain a hit single, and so the album has faded from memory over the years. One of the most overlooked records of it’s time.

Based on the works of science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, particularly the novel Methuselah’s Children. Kantner went so far as to write to Heinlein to obtain permission to use his ideas. Heinlein wrote back that over the years many people had used his ideas, but Paul was the first one to ask for permission, which he granted. The first rock album to be nominated for Sci-Fi’s prestigious Hugo Award ( 2 ever be nominated). Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship. It is also the first album to use the “Starship” moniker.

As usual the music critics were divided over this album. Reviewing in Christgau’s Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau found Kantner’s singing and melodies “murky” while believing, “for all the record’s sci-fi pretensions (does Philip K. Dick actually like this stuff?) it never even gets off the ground.” He graded it a C-plus.
It was voted number 850 in the third edition of Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).
In The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Paul Evans said while its experimental quality may have impressed in 1970, the album “now suffers from concept-album creakiness”.
William Ruhlmann was more enthusiastic, giving it four out of five stars in his review for AllMusic. “Kantner employed often dense instrumentation and complex arrangements”, he wrote, “but there were enough hooks and harmonies to keep things interesting.”

I remember listening to it on the old record player, age fifteen or sixteen. Cover in the hands and headphones on the ears and the mind wonders off on an epic imaginairy space travel… Blows Against the Empire: a pot-fueled trip through the galaxy, With a stolen spaceship, visiting a place where babies grow in trees…

Here’s the label info of the two versions i have on vinyl. First the version which has title and artist at the bottom of the front cover:

Paul Kantner / Jefferson Starship – Blows Against The Empire

Label: RCA Victor ‎– LSP-4448
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Indianapolis Pressing, Gatefold
Country: US
Released: 1970

Matrix / Runout (Side 1 Label): ZPRS-9053
Matrix / Runout (Side 2 Label): ZPRS-9054
Matrix / Runout (Side 1 Runout Stamped): ZPRS 9053 12S ArtisianⅠ A1
Matrix / Runout (Side 2 Runout Etched ): ZPRS-9054-5S
Matrix / Runout (Side 2 Runout Stamped): Artisian[Logo] Ⅰ A2

Discogs Price indication (sept. 2020)
Lowest: €0.74
Median: €2.52
Highest: €16.80

Pressing variation RCA Records Pressing Plant, Indianapolis

1st Pressings have 110/130 grams vinyl, not Dyna Flex. Released with gatefold jacket, Included Inner artwork imagery sleeve and 8 page Lyrics and illustrated booklet.
Mastering info from stamped “circle w/ 2 drumsticks” symbol (the mastering stamper for Artisan) in runout on side 2.

Includes white/black printed inner sleeve and 8-page colored booklet with lyrics and artwork.
Only 1970 versions of this release have this booklet with colored artwork..
Cover has title and artist at the bottom of the front.
Later reissues have title and artist at the top of the front cover.
Catalog number only on the spine of the cover and center labels.

And my second version (reissue) which has title and artist at the top of the front cover:

Paul Kantner / Jefferson Starship – Blows Against The Empire

Label: RCA – LSP-4448, RCA Victor – LSP-4448
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue
Country: US
Released:  1976

Matrix / Runout: Side 1: ZPRS 9053 37S
Matrix / Runout: Side 2: ZPRS 9054 39

Tan label background, estimated release date 1976.
There is a small “RE” on bottom left of front cover, Cover (Gatefold) design is arranged different and has “Title/Artist” name on top of cover unlike 1st pressing: Blows Against The Empire
Includes the inner artwork sleeve and the 8 page lyrics illustrated booklet, the last page has the # LSP-4448 RE.
This vinyl pressing is made with Dyna-Flex vinyl, although not explicitly stated on the label
As it has the old LSP-4448 number, it seems to be a transition reissue before the label reintroduced the black label with the dog and the new AFL1-4448 number, which VinylBeat.com dates starting from 1976.

Discogs Price indication (sept. 2020)
Lowest: €1.26
Median: €2.10
Highest: €10.08


A1 Mau Mau (Amerikon) (Paul Kantner/Grace Slick/Joey Covington) (6:35)
a heavy bass driven song to begin the album. Lots of ernergy and the famous sentence: ‘my only office is the park’  and ‘we come to stay!’

Drums – Joey Covington
Guitar [Lead] – Peter Kaukonen

A2     The Baby Tree  (Rosalie Sorrells) (1:42)
a beautiful banjo intro with strange lyrics that could have been written in this Corona era. ‘you gotta watch out if you sneeze’

A3     Let’s Go Together (Paul Kantner) (4:11)
again a very different song from the former. This is epic. ‘Wave goodbye to America, say hello to the garden’ Again a strong bass with beautiful piano playing and vocals of Grace Slick.

Banjo – Jerry Garcia
Drums – Bill Kreutzmann

A4   A Child Is Coming  (Paul Kantner/Grace Slick/David Crosby) (6:15)
after the intensity of ‘Lets go together’ this ‘feel good’ song closes side one and brings you back to earth. the break midway in the song is beautiful. The song ends with (again) beautiful bass playing by Jack Casady.

Bass – Jack Casady
Guitar, Vocals – David Crosby

B1     Sunrise  (Grace Slick) (1:54)
a beautiful beginning of side 2. The beauty of a sunrise translated into music.

Bass – Jack Casady

B2  Hijack (Paul Kantner/Grace Slick/Marty Balin/Gary Blackman) (8:18)
after the short intro of Sunrise the journey takes off with ‘Hijack’. a piano driven star ship trip, room for 7000 people, searching for Free minds Free bodies Free dope and Free music. You gotta ride said the doctor of space… Hijack the starship

Congas – Graham Nash, Joey Covington

B3     Home     (Paul Kantner/Phil Sawyer/Graham Nash) (0:37)  

B4  Have You Seen The Stars Tonite (Paul Kantner/David Crosby) (3:42)
this song takes you on the journey. Dream away !  beautiful steel-guitar by Jerry Garcia.

Guitar – David Crosby 
Percussion – Mickey Hart 
Steel Guitar [Pedal] – Jerry Garcia

B5   X M   (Paul Kantner/Phil Sawyer/Jerry Garcia/Mickey Hart) (1:22) 

B6  Starship  (Paul Kantner/Grace Slick/Marty Balin/Gary Blackman) (7:07)
and the journey continues. Immaculate intro by Captain Trips on guitar and Harvey Brooks on the bass. Best song of the album !

Bass – Harvey Brooks
Guitar – Jerry Garcia
Vocals – David Crosby, David Freiberg, Graham Nash

Soon to come: part 2

... And now the story continues…

Jefferson Starship – Roswell UFO Festival 2009, Tales from the mothership