Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow on 180g Mono LP
Not many bands go from an auspicious debut to an even greater second album, but Jefferson Airplane was no ordinary band. Quickly filling the drum position vacated by Skip Spence, they tapped session drummer and jazz specialist Spencer Dryden. For the co-lead vocalist position left open by Signe Anderson’s departure, they looked no further than the Great Society vocalist Grace Slick. Convinced to join Jefferson Airplane by bassist Jack Casady, Slick signed on and the band bought out her contract with the Great Society for $750. With the new lineup complete, they began work on Surrealistic Pillow.
In addition to her strong vocal skills and model-ready looks, Grace Slick also brought with her two songs which would be recorded for the new album and would help break the band on an international scale. “Somebody to Love,” written by her then brother-in-law Darby Slick, had already been released on a single to little fanfare by the Great Society, from a session produced by Sylvester “Sly Stone” Stewart. “White Rabbit,” an interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” was Grace’s own composition. The song was released as a single, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The other Slick-associated song, “Somebody to Love,” fared even better, reaching #5. Sales of these two chart-topping singles not only drove Surrealistic Pillow sales through the roof, they also tipped the balance of power away from band founder Marty Balin to Slick. It was a one-two punch from which Balin never fully recovered.
The album’s heady mix of folk rock and psychedelia had a much harder edge than the band’s debut. Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s stinging leads and Slick’s tough, assured vocals marked a major move forward. Lead track “She Has Funny Cars” updated the Bo Diddley beat for a new generation while album closer “Plastic Fantastic Lover” is a multi-color swirl, driven by Kaukonen and Casady’s swooping bass lines. In between, the album’s quality control never lags. With all but two selections written by the band, it is also a stellar showcase of their songwriting abilities that, as previously noted, had been significantly strengthened by Slick’s arrival.
Initially released in mono and stereo versions, the mono edition quickly went out of print due to the period’s preference for stereo. Collectors fortunate enough to obtain a mono copy noted that the mix was much more powerful and clearer than the stereo mix, with much less echo and reverb. Consequently, the mono version became a much-desired collectible. After a decades long absence, Sundazed makes the prized mono version of Surrealistic Pillow available again on deep groove 180-gram vinyl. Mastered from the original analog RCA session tapes and packaged in a vibrant recreation of the LP jacket artwork.
Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow Track Listing:
1. She Has Funny Cars
2. Somebody To Love
3. My Best Friend
5. Comin’ Back To Me
6. 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
8. How Do You Feel
9. Embryonic Journey
10. White Rabbit
11. Plastic Fantastic Lover