Monday, March 29, 2010

Jefferson Airplane - "Surrealistic Pillow" Vinyl LP

Jefferson Airplane - "Surrealistic Pillow"
Original Release - 1967

Through the history of Rock & Roll there has always been a certain class of albums, benchmarks of a generation, that could stand with the greatest works of art in any of this worlds great museums: "Surrealistic Pillow" is one of these hallmarks of American Rock & Roll. An album that almost single handedly sums up the sounds of a generation of musicians, about to change the world forever. If there is a band, or an album, that can transport the listener immediately to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the cultural revolution during the 60's, this is it.

To understand this look no further than "Somebody to Love". A song so intertwined with the cultural revolution, it instantly brings to mind visions/memories of flower children, magic buses and the feeling that things were about to change. It has almost been used to a fault in Hollywood portrayals of the era, since I can hardly recall a movie that takes place during this time that doesn't use this song in the soundtrack.

Though not an original member of Jefferson Airplane, its hard to imagine the band without Grace Slick, who provides the haunting vocals on the two stand out tracks "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit". Her voice coupled with the musicianship and experimentation of Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Spencer Dryden, and Marty Balin provide the listener with a kaleidoscope of 60's folk/psychedelia that will transport you to a different time, and a different place.

Production credits for "Surrealistic Pillow" are given to Rick Jarrard, but Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead is listed on this version as a spiritual advisor. Its easy to feel Garcia's presence during this album, for it features a similar mood to studio recordings of The Dead, especially "American Beauty".

"3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" has Jefferson Airplane at their up-tempo best, with sounds that are now considered classics of the era. "D.C.B.A" gives us classic, dreamy California pop, for cool evenings while "White Rabbit" portrays a different side of the sunny California vibe, a much darker and experimental psychedelic song, most often associated with the use of drugs.

The obvious stand out on side A is "Somebody to Love", but if you go back, its hard to ignore how tracks like "Today" and "Comin' Back to Me" have stood the test of time.

It doesn't matter if you lived through it or not, these albums are a ticket to a different era. Once you drop the needle on "Surrealistic Pillow" its hard not to imagine what San Francisco in 67' looked like, sounded like, and felt like.

Album - A

Vinyl - B-

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