Saturday, March 28, 2009

Number 406 - Jefferson Airplane

Number 406

Jefferson Airplane

"White Rabbit"

405 ......Genre: Psychedelic Rock...... 407
"A shot that was heard around the world" that is how this album is described by Mr Bruce Eder. So which was first? Beatles 'Sergeant Pepper" or Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow"? Answer: Jefferson Airplane, by a massive 30 odd days [and that's actual recording dates not release dates] and recorded on different sides of the Atlantic. I smell a tree whisperer conspiracy! Wouldn't it be cool if [back then] if the smoke from the dying embers of dak from their respective studios somehow found their way across the two sides of the Atlantic's and were secretly feeding the two bands "vibes" of the same sound. I was there man, i should know and no, it wasn't the mushrooms ~ Hippy
Jefferson Airplane
The second album by Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow as a groundbreaking piece of folk-rock-based psychedelia, and it hit -- literally -- like a shot heard round the world; where the later efforts from bands like the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and especially, the Charlatans, were initially not too much more than cult successes, Surrealistic Pillow rode the pop charts for most of 1967, soaring into that rarefied Top Five region occupied by the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and so on, to which few American rock acts apart from the Byrds had been able to lay claim since 1964. And decades later the album still comes off as strong as any of those artists' best work. From the Top Ten singles "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" to the sublime "Embryonic Journey," the sensibilities are fierce, the material manages to be both melodic and complex (and it rocks, too), and the performances, sparked by new member Grace Slick on most of the lead vocals, are inspired, helped along by Jerry Garcia (serving as spiritual and musical advisor and sometimes guitarist).
Psychedelia at its best
Every song is a perfectly cut diamond, too perfect in the eyes of the bandmembers, who felt that following the direction of producer Rick Jarrard and working within three- and four-minute running times, and delivering carefully sung accompaniments and succinct solos, resulted in a record that didn't represent their real sound. Regardless, they did wonderful things with the music within that framework, and the only pity is that RCA didn't record for official release any of the group's shows from the same era, when this material made up the bulk of their repertory. That way the live versions, with the band's creativity unrestricted, could be compared and contrasted with the record. The songwriting was spread around between Marty Balin, Slick, Paul Kantner, and Jorma Kaukonen, and Slick and Balin (who never had a prettier song than "Today," which he'd actually written for Tony Bennett) shared the vocals; the whole album was resplendent in a happy balance of all of these creative elements, before excessive experimentation (musical and chemical) began affecting the band's ability to do a straightforward song. The group never made a better album, and few artists from the era ever did.
click to *kaboom*
[Surrealistic Pillow on CD has been problematic -- actually, make that a real pain in the ass. It's been reissued numerous times on compact disc, in distinctly different editions -- a plain 11-song disc from the 1980s that sounded wretched and was an embarrassment; a high-priced RCA-BMG gold-disc upgrade, with significantly better sound from the mid-'90s that encompassed the stereo and mono mixes of the album; a European version from 2000/2001 (with four bonus tracks but no mono mix or liner notes) that got into the U.S. as an import; a U.S.-issued 2001 upgrade, initially available in the bizarre four-CD box Ignition, which encompassed the stereo and mono mixes in a brighter, sharper, louder remastering than the 1996 version, but still -- in some listeners' eyes [surely he means ears] -- lacking the presence and the soaring sound of the original LP; and a 2003 reissue (on the BMG Heritage label), mastered by renowned reissue producer Bob Irwin (of Sundazed Records fame), including the mono single versions of "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love," along with the related bonus tracks "Come Back Baby," "In the Morning," "J.P.P. McStep B. Blues," and "Go to Her," which have previously been scattered around various anthologies and other expanded editions. Those tracks generally push Kaukonen even more to the fore and give the balance of the material a bluesier feel. And there's an uncredited "hidden" bonus cut, an instrumental of "D.C.B.A. - 25."] ~ [Bruce Eder, All Music Guide]
White Rabbit
Grace Slick [sex goddess]
One of Grace Slick's earliest songs, written in either late 1965 or early 1966, it draws parallels between the hallucinatory effects of psychedelic drugs such as Magic Mushrooms and the imagery found in the fantasy works of Lewis Carroll: 1865's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Events in these books, such as changing size after eating mushrooms or drinking an unknown liquid, are referenced in the song. Alice, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the White Knight, the Red Queen, and the Dormouse are all mentioned. Slick has stated that White Rabbit was a response towards parents who asked why their children were taking drugs. According to her, books that parents would read to their children, such as Alice in Wonderland, encouraged them to experiment with substances since surreal and colorful imagery was often used. ~ [Source: Wikipedia]

For the Beatles see Number 489, #587, #894 & #947
For the Rolling Stones see Number 689 & #767

What does Rolling Stone think about Jefferson A?
No other studio record summed up the san Francisco rock aesthetic of the late Sixties better than the Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow. Half-live records like Quicksilver Messenger Service's Happy Trails and the Grateful Dead's Anthem of the Sun came close to capturing the city's ballroom experience on vinyl. But it was Surrealistic Pillow, the Airplane's second LP, with its artful compound of modal folk minstrelsy and electric acid beat, that spread the Bay Area message of peace, love and dance throughout the land. In Grace Slick's sirenlike wail on "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit," a generation heard the voice of a new Utopia and raced excitedly to its source. As Airplane singer-guitarist Paul Kantner says fondly, "She was everybody's dream for one good summer -- in fact, for a good many summers after that." ~ [Source: Rolling Stone - 1987]
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '406th Song of all Time' was "I Believe I Can Fly" by R Kelly. R Kelly has not appeared in The Definitive 1000, but has appeared in MM Vol 1 #127
Other songs with reference to Jefferson Airplane #478, #586, #745, #827
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number 478 and the Album ranked at Number 146
This song has a total Definitive rating of 78.3 out of 108
Studio Version
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