Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

Jefferson Airplane were one of the best-known bands of San Francisco’s legendary 60s psychedelic rock scene. They were pioneers of the genre and the first band from the area to achieve mainstream commercial success.

After one album with the band, both Skip Spence and Signe Andersen left Jefferson Airplane (the former went on to form Moby Grape). They were replaced respectively by drummer Spencer Dryden and singer Grace Slick (formerly of The Great Society), leading to the band's best-known line-up: Marty Balin (vocals), Grace Slick (vocals), Paul Kantner (rhythm guitar/vocals), Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitar), Jack Casady (bass) and Spencer Dryden (drums). Dryden was a much better drummer than Spence, having a background in jazz, and as well as her distinctive, powerful voice, Slick gave the band a new focal point on stage and helped forge them a new artistic direction.
The resultant album from these line-up changes - Surrealistic Pillow - proved to be a national hit, introducing the band to a huge new fan base. It was the first album from the San Francisco scene to achieve commercial success, and thus the Airplane became the scene's best-known group. It was musically quite diverse, mixing hard-driving psychedelic rock with tender folk-rock ballads, and technically more complex and imaginative than it's predecessor. Slick's and Balin's voices blended together to create something truly special which came to be one of the defining aspects of the Jefferson Airplane sound, along with Kaukonen's lead guitar and Casady's powerful, driving bass sound. Apparently Jerry Garcia contributed guitar to a few tracks - he was listed on the album credits as 'musical and spiritual adviser'. One song which stood out stylistically from the rest was Kaukonen's solo instrumental "Embryonic Journey", which showed his folk roots and dazzling acoustic guitar skills.
The songwriting was mostly shared by Balin and Kantner, though there are a few notable exceptions: "My Best Friend" by old bandmate Skip Spence, "How Do You Feel" by the mysterious Tom Mastin (apparently a friend of the band), and two songs Slick brought with her from The Great Society - "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit". These last two proved to be the group's first (and only) hit singles, and remain today their best-known songs.
Surrealistic Pillow reached #3 on the album charts.

Jefferson Airplane Takes Off
(1966) <|> After Bathing At Baxter's (1967)
More from Jefferson Airplane



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