Category: Jefferson Airplane

Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing at Baxter’s

ARTIST: Jefferson Airplane 220px-After_bathing_at_baxters

TITLE: After Bathing at Baxter’s

YEAR RELEASED: 1967

CHART ACTION: #17

SINGLES: The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil (#42), Watch Her Ride (#61)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Martha, Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon

LINEUP: Marty Balin, Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Airplane decided to go full-tilt psychedelic, and the album has a lot of trippy elements to it, man.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I don’t think this was Marty Balin’s group anymore, but he had to have gone along with it. His voice, as harmony singer mostly, is all over the place, and his “Young Girl Sunday Blues” is one of the highlights.

Starting with the outstanding yet challenging “The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil” and ending with Kantner’s statement “Won’t You Try / Saturday Afternoon”, the Airplane moves the listener through a truly acid-drenched trip, complete with experimental sounds, anti-war statements, hippie imagery, and general electrical tom-foolery.

Their status, after one successful album, was such that they got to do what they wanted, and how they wanted. While the freedom was welcome by the band (after RCA put the screws to them on their first album), it’s lack of direction meant fewer sales and less radio play on AM stations.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The album title was code for “tripping on acid”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Alternate cuts and mixes.

 GRADE B+: The weird for weird-sake cuts drag it down.

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow

ARTIST: Jefferson Airplane

TITLE: Surrealistic Pillow220px-Jeffair

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.

Jefferson Airplane – Jefferson Airplane Takes Off

ARTIST: Jefferson Airplane 220px-Jefferson_airplane_takes_off

TITLE: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #128

SINGLES: It’s No Secret, Come Up the Years, Bringing Me Down

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Blues from an Airplane

LINEUP: Marty Balin, Signe Anderson, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Skip Spence

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pre-Grace Slick and pre-hippie Jefferson Airplane release a rote folk rock album with a few highlights.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This was definitely Marty Balin’s group. He formed it, and shaped the sound of the album with his folk-rock songs. Sometimes co-written by Paul Kantner, and assisted vocally by Signe Anderson, Balin has some good hands helping him, but it’s definitely his show.

Bassist Jack Casady makes his impact felt right away with some melodic and powerful bass lines, while the guitars lack the usual fireworks of later years (though Jorma Kaukonen’s playing is elegant and precise). That musicianship helps elevate the slightly above average songs.

Balin’s material is augmented by three covers, which are the weakest tracks (they just sound off), and “Come Up the Years” is beautiful but skeevy. (It seems very much a Lolita tale). All in all, a record that wouldn’t make a ripple outside of folk-rock zealots, but then they changed Balin’s vocal assistance.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Skip Spence left soon after to form Moby Grape, and Signe Anderson left to form a family. They grabbed this singer named Grace to replace her…

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. B-sides and cuts left off because RCA didn’t like the very mild sexual references.

 GRADE B: An OK folk rock record, but they’d turn into something else soon enough.