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Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

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Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow
Jeffair.jpg
Studio album by Jefferson Airplane
Released February 1, 1967
Recorded October 31 – November 22, 1966
Studio RCA Victor's Music Center, Hollywood, California
Genre
  • Psychedelic rock
  • folk rock
Length 34:48
Label RCA Victor
Producer Rick Jarrard
Jefferson Airplane chronology
Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
(1966)
Surrealistic Pillow
(1967)
After Bathing at Baxter's
(1967)
 
Singles from Surrealistic Pillow
  1. "Somebody to Love"
    Released: April 1, 1967
  2. "White Rabbit"
    Released: June 24, 1967
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars
The Village Voice B+

 

  "Surrealistic Pillow" is the second album by American rock band Jefferson Airplane, released on February 1, 1967, by RCA Victor (LSP-3766 [stereo] and LPM-3766 [mono]). It is the first album by the band with vocalist Grace Slick and drummer Spencer Dryden. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard album chart and has been certified a gold album by the RIAA.

Original drummer Alexander "Skip" Spence had left the band in mid-1966. He was soon replaced by Dryden, an experienced Los Angeles jazz drummer and the half-nephew of Charlie Chaplin. New female vocalist Slick, formerly with another San Francisco rock band the Great Society, joined the Airplane in the fall of 1966. Slick, Dryden, male lead vocalist Marty Balin, guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Paul Kantner, lead guitarist (and occasional vocalist) Jorma Kaukonen, and bassist Jack Casady formed the core of the best-known line-up of the group, which remained stable until Dryden's departure in early 1970.

The album is considered to be one of the quintessential works of the early psychedelic rock and 1960s counterculture eras.

 

Production

Jefferson Airplane's fusion of folk rock and psychedelia was original at the time, in line with musical developments pioneered by The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas, Bob Dylan, The Yardbirds, and The Beatles, among other mid-1960s rock bands. "Surrealistic Pillow" was the first blockbuster psychedelic album by a band from San Francisco, announcing to the world the active bohemian scene that had developed there starting with The Beats during the 1950s, extending and changing through the 1960s into the Haight-Ashbury counterculture. Subsequent exposure generated by the Airplane and others wrought great changes to that counterculture, and by 1968 the ensuing national media attention had precipitated a very different San Francisco scene than had existed in 1966. San Francisco photographer Herb Greene photographed the band for the album's cover art.

Some controversy exists as to the role of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia in the making of the album. His reputed presence on several tracks is denied by producer Rick Jarrard, but he is credited on the RCA label copy and received credits on the "Flight Log" compilation and the "Jefferson Airplane" box set. In his sleeve notes for "Early Flight", a 1974 compilation album of previously unreleased material, manager Bill Thompson writes only that Garcia was "listed as 'spiritual advisor' on the album cover [and] played one of the guitars" on "In The Morning," a Kaukonen composition that was released on "Early Flight" and subsequently included on the 2003 reissue of "Surrealistic Pillow". Garcia himself recalled in a mid-1967 interview that he played the high lead on "Today" in addition to playing guitar on two other songs ("Plastic Fantastic Lover" and "Comin' Back to Me") and rearranging "Somebody to Love." He also played on "J.P.P. McStep B. Blues" (included on Early Flight and the 2003 reissue) and may have played on "How Do You Feel." Kaukonen has opined that Garcia was essentially the producer who arranged the songs for the group. A comment by Garcia about the music being "as surrealistic as a pillow" also reportedly inspired the album title.

 

Mixing

The album was mixed in both mono and stereo. The stereo version includes heavier echo effects not present on the mono version.

 

Singles

Two singles were released from the album later in the year, "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit", peaked respectively at number five and number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and are the band's only Top 40 hits on that chart.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 146 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"

In January of 2017, "Somebody to Love" received a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, while "White Rabbit" received a platinum certification.

 

Track listing

Side one
  1. "She has Funny Cars" (Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin) – 3:14
  2. "Somebody to Love" (Darby Slick) – 3:00
  3. "My Best Friend" (Skip Spence) – 3:04
  4. "Today" (Balin, Paul Kantner) – 3:03
  5. "Comin' Back to Me" (Balin) – 5:23
Side two
  1. "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" (Balin) – 3:45
  2. "D.C.B.A.–25" (Kantner) – 2:39
  3. "How Do You Feel" (Tom Mastin) – 3:34
  4. "Embroyonic Journey" (Kaukonen) – 1:55
  5. "White Rabbit" (Grace Slick) – 2:32
  6. "Plastic Fantastic Lover" (Balin) – 2:39

 

Personnel

  • Marty Balin – vocals, guitar, album design, lead vocals on "Today", "Comin' Back To Me" and "Plastic Fantastic Lover", co-lead vocals on "She Has Funny Cars", "My Best Friend" and "Go To Her"
  • Jack Casady – bass guitar, fuzz bass, rhythm guitar
  • Spencer Dryden – drums, percussion
  • Paul Kantner – rhythm guitar, vocals, lead vocals on "How Do You Feel", co-lead vocals on "My Best Friend", "D. C. B. A.-25" and "Go To Her"
  • Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar, lead vocals on "Come Back Baby" and "In The Morning"
  • Grace Slick – vocals, piano, organ, recorder, lead vocals on "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit", co-lead vocals on "She Has Funny Cars", "My Best Friend", "D. C. B. A.-25" and "Go To Her"
  • Signe Toly Anderson - lead vocals on "Chauffeur Blues" (UK only)
  • Skip Spence - drums on "Don't Slip Away", "Come Up the Years", and "Chauffeur Blues" (UK only)
 
Additional personnel
  • Jerry Garcia – "spiritual advisor"; guitar on "Today", "Comin' Back to Me", "Plastic Fantastic Lover", "In the Morning", and "J. P. P. McStep B. Blues"
  • Herb Greene – photography
  • David Hassinger – engineering
  • Rick Jarrard – production

 

Charts

Album

Year Chart Position
1967 Billboard 200 3

 

Single

Year Single Chart Position
1967 "My Best Friend" Billboard Pop Singles 103
1967 "Somebody to Love" Billboard Pop Singles 5
1967 "White Rabbit" Billboard Pop Singles 8

 

Certifications

Organization Level Date
RIAA – USA Gold July 24, 1967

 

 

 

Jeffersopn Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

UK RCA (We Are Vinyl) 180gram repress (2017).

This record for sale is a new 2017 repress of the album first released in 1967.

The record is new, sealed and unplayed, and therefore attains a Mint grading.

Album produced by Rick Jarrard.

Packaging barcode 89853 96711.

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