Though the Jefferson Starship's musical horizons have shrunk from mystical folk-rock id mundance hard rock, the old bird still refuses to land. On Winds of Change, the Starship's hard-rock image is spruced up with thicker harmonies and a more anthemic style. Grace Slick takes a couple of grand, swooping solos — the predatory vamp of "Black Widow" is a typically exotic caricature — but she is used as a harmony voice more than in the old days.
Whereas the musical model for earlier Starship probes was Fleetwood Mac, now it's Journey, with raunchy belter Mickey Thomas playing Steve Perry's role. But Thomas lacks Perry's soulfulness, and he and Slick don't engage in the mutual sexual coaxing that made her duets with Marty Balin so powerful. Winds of Change emphasizes rock ballads, with "Be My Lady," a Smokey Robinson-like stroll performed in a martial AOR style, being the catchiest. Many of the Starship's standard themes — apocalyptic awe ("Winds of Change"), demonic sensuality ("I Came Back from the Jaws of the Dragon") and visionary idealism ("Quit Wasting Time," "Can't Find Love") — have been recycled once again. Though the new songs lack the personality of earlier models, there's still enough of a glimmer from the spark of Red Octopus to keep this ship rattling along.