Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

Kronomyth 2.0: HELLO DALI. You’re standing at the gilded gateway to the psychedelic revolution, the twin spires of “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit” beckoning you with open mind. The Airplane’s second trip stands as the first truly great achievement in the cultural exodus to San Francisco. You could call it a groundbreaking record, but it’s more of a sky-opening one: the potentialities of popular music were significantly expanded with Surrealistic Pillow. Much of its genius stems from the different personalities within the band, all of whom brought something unique into the mix (including departed drummer, Skip Spence). There are the fragile, unreal ballads from Balin (“Today,” “Comin’ Back To Me”), the ambitious adventures of Paul Kantner (“D.C.B.A.—25”), the combustible rockers (“3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds”) and even an acoustic oasis (Jorma’s “Embryonic Journey,” which served as a sort of template for countless guitar interludes from “Embryo” to “The Clap”). Truly, the bands that came before appeared as men on a chessboard, moving in predictable fashion. Surrealistic Pillow’s charm is its unpredictability; you simply don’t know what’s coming next. The same could be said for the Airplane itself, which was flying straight into heavy turbulence, but here it’s all part of a fantastic journey. In 2003, the album was remastered and expanded with six bonus tracks, including a second Skip Spence song (“J.P.P. McStep B. Blues”) and Kantner’s “Go To Her,” both of which had turned up earlier on the catchall compilation, Early Flight.

The Songs
A1. She Has Funny Cars (Jorma Kaukonen/Marty Balin) (3:07)
A2. Somebody To Love (Darby Slick) (2:54)
A3. My Best Friend (Skip Spence) (2:59)
A4. Today (Marty Balin/Paul Kantner) (2:57)
A5. Comin’ Back To Me (Marty Balin) (5:14)
B1. 3/5 of a Mile In 10 Seconds (Marty Balin) (3:39)
B2. D.C.B.A.—25 (Paul Kantner) (2:35)
B3. How Do You Feel (Tom Mastin) (3:28)
B4. Embryonic Journey (Jorma Kaukonen) (1:51)
B5. White Rabbit (Grace Slick) (2:30)
B6. Plastic Fantastic Lover (Marty Balin) (2:33)

CD Reissue Bonus Tracks
12. In The Morning (Jorma Kaukonen) (6:20)
13. J.P.P. McStep B. Blues (Alex Spence) (2:36)
14. Go To Her (version two) (Paul Kantner/Irving Estes) (4:01)
15. Come Back Baby (Traditional) (2:55)
16. Somebody To Love (Single Version) (Darby Slick) (2:57)
17. White Rabbit (Single Version) (Grace Slick) (2:30)

Original UK elpee track listing
1. My Best Friend
2. 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds
3. D.C.B.A.—25
4. How Do You Feel
5. Embryonic Journey
6. Don’t Slip Away
7. Come Up The Years
8. Chauffeur Blues
9. Today
10. Comin’ Back To Me
11. Somebody To Love

The Players
Marty Balin (guitar and vocals), Jack Casady (bass, fuzz bass and rhythm guitar), Spencer Dryden (percussion), Paul Kantner (guitar and vocals), Jorma Kaukonen (lead and rhythm guitar and vocals), Grace Slick (piano, organ, recorder and vocals) with Jerry Garcia (musical and spiritual adviser). Produced by Rick Jarrard; recording engineered by David Hassinger.

The (Fantastic) Plastic
Released on elpee in February 1967 in the US (RCA Victor, LSP-3766) and the UK (RCA, RD-7889). Reissued on elpee in 1970 in France (RCA Victor, 461.015) with a different cover. Reissued on elpee in the 1970s in the US (RCA, LSP-3766, orange label) and the UK (RCA, SF-7889) and in 1973 in Japan (RCA, RCA-6135). Reissued on elpee in 1978 in Japan (RCA, PG-102) and in 1983 in the US (RCA, AYL1-3738). Reissued on expanded CD in 1995 in the US (RCA, 66598) featuring mono & stereo mixes of each song. Reissued on 120g vinyl in 2001 in the UK (Simply Vinyl, S125008) and on 180g vinyl elpee in 2002 in the US (Sundazed, LP-5135). Reissued on expanded CD in 2003 in the US and the UK (BMG Heritage, 50351-2) and on SHMCD in 2008 in Japan (BMG, BVCM-34406) with six bonus tracks. Album photographs by Herb Green. Album designed by Marty Balin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *