Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow

Jefferson AirplaneJefferson Airplane are regarded as the definitive 60’s, hippy-rock band and with good reason; they recorded six albums (yes, six!) between 1966 and 1969 during the peak of flower power. Despite the brilliant West-coast bands that became huge stars in this period (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield), Jefferson Airplane were actually one of the most innovative. Meshing popular folk music to the emerging psychedelic rock music scene that was coming through in the mid-60’s, founder member and vocalist Marty Balin created the template for the whole Hippy generation. But it was the appointment of vocalist Grace Slick that cemented Jefferson Airplane’s position as one of the peroid’s top bands.

Indeed, it was Slick who wrote the band’s two signature tunes and indeed, classic hippy anthems: “White Rabbit” and “Feed Your Head”. The former, a song about Alice In Wonderland that’s really about drugs, became one of the first real druggy anthems (see it’s two appearances in Fear And Loathing). Hearing it now, it’s amazing how strange it is. It’s two and a half minutes of pure build up, with no chorus and a strict military drum beat propelling it along. “Somebody To Love” of course, became famous due to it’s recent dance remix, but still sounds really great in it’ original form. Both songs are presented on this disc in mono and stereo form (try telling the difference).

But there’s more to this album that just these two songs; from the blues-ey swagger of “In The Morning” to  thesunny, laid-back acoustic “Today”. My favourite is actually the gentle melancholy song “Coming Back To Me”. It has a really simple and haunting melody and dream-like production. I’ve read that the way Surrealistic Pillow wasn’t a fair re-production of Jefferson Airplane’s live sound and that various re-issues of the album on CD have incorporated different mixes, some clearer and some not. It doesn’t really matter here as the production is clear and crisp and the songs really shine through. Hippy rock rightly has some stigma attached to it, but you really need to give this album a go. It’s one of the few albums that can be really representative of it’s era and still sound good.

Jefferson Airplane – Somebody To Love:

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