Jefferson Airplane | Surrealistic Pillow
Welcome back to another throw back! Papa Maldjian took us on a journey this week with a revisit (or for some, first time visit) to some Jefferson Airplane. I’d link a place for you to listen to this…but if we’re all being honest you should just go find the record of it that you own and throw it on.
Then, just snuggle up with your hallucinogenic cushions and read what the family had to say:
Listen along on Spotify and check out what we had to say:
I was really happy to see this album [that he suggested], one of my favorites. The musicians obviously put a lot of thought into the placement of the tracks, as a result the music flows like a composition or a good story, rising and falling at the appropriate time.
I first heard this album in college, my roommate owned a collection he got from a kid stationed in Camp Pendleton CA. He brought back great music.
This music definitely influenced my guitar playing, Jorma plays with such purpose, on both the electric and acoustic tracks.
The Airplane defined the San Francisco sound, of the mid 60’s and the psychedelic rock movement. It is rumored that Jerry Garcia played on some tracks.
Seeking out more about this group I discovered Hot Tuna a heavy electric blues band with members in common.
A very biased 7/7
A long journey.. Grace Slick’s voice just fills in all the gaps perfectly.
It’s such an abrupt change from “Somebody to Love” (what can I say that hasn’t already been said about this song, just a classic, a goodie for sure) to “My Best Friend.” That’s when it gets all Beatlesy and my mind wanders elsewhere. Say what you will about the Beatles but their influence is everywhere, did ya know that the word for Turtleneck in Chile is “beatle” pronounced in accordance with Spanish pronunciation of course, and, yes, it’s because the Beatles wore them.
Back to the album, I like the arrangement of “Today.”
And then comes the “Embryonic Journey.” I always enjoy this Allman Brothers-esque acoustic track, it brings my attention right back and is the perfect lead in to “White Rabbit.” “White Rabbit” well to me is just a masterpiece, yes it has become a bit of a cliche but I still find it a resonating wondrous trip. The building is fantastic, the whole song leads to one note, a short moment. But those words and the mood it creates. It also has all that cultural importance. The line, “feed your head” has been murdered as a quote, but I like it still.
“Plastic Fantastic Lover” kept up with the energy of “White Rabbit.” Then, “In the Morning” got all Grateful Dead.
I feel like this the majority of this album just reminded me of a bunch of different bands and then the really iconic, classic, well-known songs just sounded like them.
Take the power! BECOME THE JOURNEY! Gosh I was really kinda cautious diving into this album. I think hearing “ho ho oh man ‘White Rabbit’ is one of my favorite songs so trippy” from too many annoying people at bars kind of made me forget what a spectacular little album this is.
Its got a real range of fun fluffy pop/folk, and then some pretty driving psych rock stuff. Ah man even with the way the songs jumped around in style the whole thing was covered in this sort of cavernous kind of sound, which made it sound more warm…a warm cave groove but hey what are ya gonna do it was a different time.
This album lives up to its name, serving up surrealistic sounds and imagery to release our unconscious minds. It’s a sweet combination of hippy dippy folk and psychedelic stomping ballads with drifting and powerful harmonies. The howling vocals, metallic guitar licks, and bouncy baselines make me wanna groove and fight and sleep all at the same time.
It’s a total relic of 1960’s psych-rock. The Alice in Wonderland claustrophobic trip of “White Rabbit,” mixed with the fingerpicked acoustics in “Embryonic Journey,” and the disillusioned “Somebody to Love” create a visceral soundtrack perfect for a day eating tofu and planning a righteous sit-in.
Please note: to fully fall into the psychedelic meditation, turn the volume UP.
Although I have never been a JA plane fan, revisiting this album made me realize what an iconic representation of the creative music scene of the late 60’s it truly is. Put together, in old school album form, to set a mood and take you on their journey.
Oh boy, we have definitely landed in the 60’s!
First go-through of this was while skyping with 80% of the Family That Reviews, but I quickly found this is not an album you can multi-task with.
When I took the time to listen in my own space, I found some tranquil hits and some higher energy tracks. It fulfilled all the nooks and crannies to make this a truly satisfying album of its decade. I don’t gravitate to the more psychedelic stuff. You know, the songs that sound like laying around in some grass with flowers sprouting up all around you. If you’re into that then that’s cool. Maybe I’ve ridden the NYC subway too many times to feel entirely “let’s all hold hands” hippy-dippy anymore.
“Plastic Fantastic Lover” had a Bob Dylan feel that I was digging. And “Embroyotic Journey” felt a little more on the twangy side which I liked. And of course I love that chart-topper “Somebody to Love”.
Not upset I took this trip down memory lane into memories I never had…because I wasn’t even a fetus yet.
Another album with songs that I’d heard millions of times in the car yet never knew the name or band for them.
Definitely got that 60’s feel. It’s like a more hippy, psychedelic version of the Beatles with some Cream thrown in. Not really for super intense listening, but I could see this being an album you’d play on a record while just chilling on the floor with some buds
Everything had kind of a weird echo to it, and as Kevin mentioned when we were talking about the album, the levels aren’t mixed optimally. Like in “Comin’ Back to Me” for example. It started as a nice atmospheric country rock song, but once the vocals popped up they drowned out the instruments. “Embryonic Journey” gets you that straight instrumental fix in later though. Sounds like the guitarist had some fun noodling around for a bit.
Not a bad album, interesting combination of trippy and hokey underlined by that old grassroots country feel.