Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and musician. He is known as the founder, lead singer, and main songwriter of Jefferson Airplane, a rock band formed in San Francisco in 1965. Balin is also known as being the founder, songwriter, and lead singer of Jefferson Starship, another rock band formed in San Francisco in 1974 by musicians including the former members of Jefferson Airplane. With Jefferson Airplane, Marty Balin released eight studio albums and 19 singles. As a member of Jefferson Starship, Balin released 11 studio albums and 22 singles. The singer also released six singles as a solo artist. Here are the 10 best Marty Balin songs of all time.
10. It’s No Secret (1966)
‘It’s No Secret’ was Jefferson Airplane’s debut single in 1966, and it also featured on their debut album, ‘Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.’ Balin sings the lead vocals on the track, with backing from Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson. Although the band was compared to the Byrds at the time, Jefferson Airplane had their own distinctive sound, and ‘It’s No Secret’ set the tone for the style and sound of the music they would continue to produce for more than two decades.
9. Young Girl Sunday Blues (1967)
‘Bathing at Baxter’s’ was Jefferson Airplane’s third album, released in 1967. Most of the tracks on the album were written by Slick and Kantner. However, one of the best tracks on the album was ‘Young Girl Sunday Blues,’ which was co-written by Marty Balin and Kantner. Although Balin was known for singing ballads, he showed his rocker side on this track.
8. Comin’ Back to Me (1967)
Balin demonstrated his talents as a ballad singer on ‘Comin’ Back to Me,’ which is a haunting ballad that featured on the 1967 Jefferson Airplane album ‘Surrealist Pillow.’ In this song, Balin sings solo, so fans could hear the true beauty of his voice. Balin admitted that he wrote this song while he was under the influence of marijuana. After writing the song, he went straight to the studio to record the track using any musicians that were available. ‘Comin’ Back to Me’ was later covered by Richie Havens and Rickie Lee Jones.
7. Plastic Fantastic Lover (1969)
‘Plastic Fantastic Lover’ was the closing track on the 1969 album ‘Surrealistic Lover.’ It is said that the song was inspired by the American people’s addiction to television. It is a catchy rock sound that has a pounding beat. A longer and rockier version of the song also appears on the 1969 live album ‘Bless Its Little Head.’ The longer version of the song was recorded when the band played live at Woodstock.
6. Miracles (1975)
‘Miracles’ is one of Marty Balin’s best songs from his time with Jefferson Starship. It appeared on the 1975 album ‘Red Octopus,’ and the album version of the track was seven minutes long. However, when Jefferson Starship released ‘Miracles’ as a single, it was edited to just three minutes long. It was one of Balin’s most commercially successful songs, as it reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also charted in Canada and New Zealand.
5. Come Up the Years (1966)
Despite ‘Come Up the Years’ not charting as a single, Jefferson Airplane fans still rate it as one of the band’s best singles. It was the second single the band released, and it was from their debut album ‘Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.’ The song is about new love, and Balin and Kentner harmonize as the lead vocalists on the track. Its simplicity was one of the things that make this song great, and it is unusual as there is a glockenspiel solo.
4. She Has Funny Cars (1967)
Balin co-wrote ‘She Has Funny Cars’ with Jorma Kaukonen, Jefferson Airplane’s lead guitarist, and it is the opening track from the album’ Surrealistic Pillow.’ The track begins with a drum solo followed by an impressive guitar riff before Marty Balin begins the lead vocals and is then joined by Grace Slick. This song was also released as the B-side to the single ‘Somebody to Love.
3. 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds (1967)
Balin wrote the lyrics for ‘3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds’ and performed the lead vocals on the track. This song was the opening track from the second side of Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 album ‘Surrealistic Pillow.’ The album reached number 146 on Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All-Time’ in 2003. However, it dropped to number 471 when the list was revised in 2020.
2. Volunteers (1969)
‘Volunteers’ is the title track off the 1969 album of the same name, and it was the only single that Jefferson Airplane released from that album. Balin was inspired to write the song after he heard a Volunteers of America donation truck outside in the street. He quickly wrote down some lyrics that were then used as the basis for the song, which features a guitar riff played by Kantner. ‘Volunteers’ became an anthem for the late 1960s. The single ‘Volunteers reached number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the album peaked at number 13 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
1. Today (1967)
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the best Marty Balin song is ‘Today.’ It is a love song that features on the 1967 album ‘Surrealistic Pillow,’ which reached number three on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Marty Balin’s voice on the track is bare and pure, with a backing track of guitar riffs and very little percussion. The song sounds almost ethereal due to the reverb.