ARTIST: Jefferson Airplane
TITLE: Surrealistic Pillow
YEAR RELEASED: 1967
CHART ACTION: #3
SINGLES: My Best Friend (#103), Somebody to Love (#5), White Rabbit (#8)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Today, Plastic Fantastic Lover
LINEUP: Marty Balin, Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Changing drummers (a big plus) and female singers (who brought a couple of songs from her old band that you may have heard of), the Airplane make a psychedelic folkie LP that puts them on the map.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This was still mostly Marty Balin’s group. His folkie instincts came through on some of the cuts (especially at the end of side 1), but it’s not all in his voice, nor his songs. Former drummer Skip Spence has a track, as well as mysterious ‘friend’ Tom Mastin. Kantner and Kaukonen each have a solo credit, and then there’s the two songs the new singer Grace Slick brought them. I think you know them.
“Somebody to Love”, written by Slick’s brother in law, and “White Rabbit” were songs that Slick’s former band, the Great Society, had in their repertoire, to very minor success. The Airplane versions were turned up and turned on, and along with tracks like “She Has Funny Cars”, “3/5 of a Mile in 10 Second” and “Plastic Fantastic Lover”, the Airplane really took off.
The really slow ballad and a couple of the folkie tracks detract from the psychedelic onslaught, somewhat to the album’s detriment. But it’s still a good snapshot of a group ascending to its apex, quickly.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Jerry Garcia played on this album, unless he didn’t, and he arranged many of the tracks, unless he was just a ‘sage counsel’. I think people were too stoned to really remember.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. B-sides and cuts left off for…reasons I guess.
GRADE A-: They flew pretty high here, and became the ‘voice’ of hippies and San Francisco.