Marty Balin: What happened?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by wayneklein, Aug 28, 2009.

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  1. wayneklein

    wayneklein Forum Fool Thread Starter

    The thread on "Miracles" reminded me to pull out the reissue of Marty Balin's "Balin" on American Beat. Although far from a great album, it has some moments that are extremely good and more than its fair share of lousy songs.

    What mystifies me is Balin was an accomplished songwriter and singer and yet seemed reluctant throughout the bulk of his solo career to write his own material. Had he dried up as a songwriter? Did he just want to be a vocalist?

    How could such a dynamic talent release such a series of mediocre albums throughout his career and allow other writers to pen such vapid tunes for the bulk of his career.

    Then again, maybe Balin is the type of artist that thrives on a "band" environment.

    Thoughts? There must be a Jefferson Airplane/Starship expert here to chime in...
    Hep Alien likes this.
  2. jgreen

    jgreen Well-Known Member

    St. Louis,MO.
    You may have answered your own question. His writing may have dried up and he is definitely a band guy, not a solo artist.
  3. jwoverho

    jwoverho Forum Resident

    Mobile, AL USA
    Always liked Marty's contributions to Airplane/Starship the best. Slick had some interesting tunes but I always thought Kantner was a little full of himself. Jorma's guitar playing fit the band great, but his compositions somehow seemed out of place- maybe that's why Hot Tuna was a better outlet for him.

    "Share a Little Joke" from CROWN OF CREATION is an underrated gem. Marty's ballads from the Starship phase are also great.

    I'm with you on wondering what happened post-Starship: maybe Marty did dry up as a writer or needed the creative and competitive atmosphere of a band to inspire him.

    Buckingham-Nicks era Fleetwood Mac had nothing on the Airplane for interpersonal drama and power struggles. The Behind The Music special on JA from several years ago was one of the best in terms of being riveting and illuminating. Marty's line about "Whoever was sleeping with Grace had the power over the band" was particularly telling. Marty seemed bitter about losing control over the band he created.
  4. Mark

    Mark I Am Gort, Hear Me Roar Staff

    One of my all-time favorite singers. I didn't see him in concert for many years, but managed to catch him outdoors, in the rain, at the Milford, CT Oyster Festival several years ago. Despite the conditions, he sounded great.
  5. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    Someone who had been in the company of the band told me in the 90's that Marty has personality quirks. He's not retarded, but it's very difficult for him to live in the real, if he was a working stiff like us, he'd have lots of issues. He's not mean, far from it, but he's not a strong person. At least not anymore. He needs strong people around him to tell him where to go, when, etc.

    That might explain his writing stopping. I, too, loved his Starship stuff and some of his post Starship work like Atlanta Lady and Camellia.

    I remember an interview with Paul where he actually had to seek Marty out to write with him for Dragonfly. He described Marty in an almost hermit like existence and it sounded a lot like depression. Even Marty described those years as very dark and he didn't do much of anything. I wonder if he kind of had a nervous breakdown after Janis died/he left Airplane.
  6. Jose Jones

    Jose Jones Outstanding Forum Member

    Detroit, Michigan
    Too bad about Marty, I love "Miracles".
  7. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Member Of The Midnight Society

    Greater St. Louis
    He is a great singer. I do love him on Red Octopus.
  8. Mr. Dependable

    Mr. Dependable New Member

    Durham, NC
    Didn't he get beat up pretty good on stage at Altamont? That's gotta have a long term effect on your ability to create/perform.
  9. Holy Diver

    Holy Diver Member Of The Midnight Society

    Greater St. Louis
    I think he got knocked out.
  10. sixelsix

    sixelsix Forum Resident

    memphis, tn, usa
    Yep. I remember watching the section of Gimme Shelter immediately after that happened, where Kantner is mock-thanking the Hell's Angels for doing so. At least, I THINK he was being sarcastic; it was kinda hard to tell.
  11. wayneklein

    wayneklein Forum Fool Thread Starter

    The direction stuff makes sense...whenever he's worked as a solo artist and recorded stuff it's like the producer is making ALL the decisions from material to arrangements. The songs from his second solo and third solo albums are just amazingly...bad.

    It's like Balin's being musically color blind--he no longer can tell the difference between Green (good songs) and red (bad songs).

    It's tragic because he's a brilliant singer.
  12. wayneklein

    wayneklein Forum Fool Thread Starter

    For those that are interested Balin's just released a DVD concert video.
  13. hoggydoggy

    hoggydoggy Forum Resident

    Maybe because Marty never slept with Grace? (He was apparently the only member of the "classic" Airplane lineup that didn't and not because he didn't have the opportunity to either, allegedly)
  14. Johnny11758

    Johnny11758 Member

    Massapequa, NY
  15. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member


    one of my fave singers as well. IMO, the best male vocalist on "miracles".
  16. dotwacky

    dotwacky Forum Resident

    milwaukee, wi
    That sounds correct to me. I remember him implying that the other members no longer wanted to write with him. Maybe there was some resentment left over from when Marty was the undisputed leader. I'm only guessing, of course.
  17. PhilCohen

    PhilCohen Forum Resident

    In the Airplane, the move towards extended instrumental jamming(in 1968) and Grace Slick's ascending media stardom seemed to leave Marty(originally the group's leader) out in the cold.
  18. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    That's the way Kantner got him into Starship--writing. He just said he wanted to write with Marty (Caroline, of course). Then he got him to sing it in the studio. Then he got him to sing it live once (at the end of that tour, IIRC). Then asked him to join.
    Hep Alien likes this.
  19. lou

    lou Forum Resident

    That, and Paul Kantner's amazing leap in songwriting productivity after Surrrealistic Pillow. Whereas before Marty had to go to Paul and Jorma and try to get them to write some songs or collaborate with him, suddenly Paul was churning out top notch songs without prompting and without Marty's participation. There was plenty of material and no one was seeking Marty out as a song collaborator. Which was unfortunate. As you say, the power within the band (which dictated musical direction) had shifted to Grace and Paul.
  20. dennislee

    dennislee New Member

    Marty is a great singer I really like his album "hearts"
  21. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    Seems Marty lost his mojo while still in the Starship. On the "Earth" album he sings three songs, all written by Jesse Barish (and none very good, though "COunt On Me" was a big hit). And this was only two albums after he'd written "Mirackes" himself.
  22. wayneklein

    wayneklein Forum Fool Thread Starter

    Yeah you're right. Barish writes the bulk of Marty's solo album. They are pedestrian compared to Balin's best material.
  23. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    He jumped off the stage to involve himself in some kind of Hell's Angel/crowd fracas, and got clobbered.
  24. Rosskolnikov

    Rosskolnikov Designated Cloud Yeller

    I always liked him. From what I understand, he was seen as being a little bit "square" compared to the other Airplane members. To me, that just means that he thought for himself and could separate the wheat from the chaff within the hippie movement.
    Hazuki likes this.
  25. dennislee

    dennislee New Member

    btw at altamont. Marty jumped off the stage to help a kid who was getting beat up by the hells many people would do that???
    wayne66 and Hep Alien like this.
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