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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE

Proto-Prog • United States


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Jefferson Airplane biography
Jefferson Airplane is one of the major psychedelic acts from US West Coast, with their great musicianship and their groundbreaking attitude which can be seen in their lyrics and album covers.
The history of Jefferson Airplane began in early 65 when Marty Balin, who had played in a folk group called the Town Criers in 1963 and 1964, invited the guitarist Paul Kantner to form a new band which would blend rock and folk. Then Kantner recommended the guitarist Jorma Kaukonen to join the band too. Balin wanted a female voice to contrast his voice and Signe Anderson Joined.

The band was completed with the bassist Bob Harvey and the drummer Jerry Peloquin. They started performing in small clubs and soon Peloquin and Harvey were fired and replaced by the drummer Skip Spence (later Moby Grape) and the bassist Jack Casady, an excellent virtuoso known as one of the best rock bassists ever. His technique was so good that later in his career he had to tap fingers together to make his bass lines less complex. They released their debut in early 1966, "It's no secret". Then Spence started to have problems with drugs, so he was fired and Spenccer Dryden was brought in his place.

They released the first album in 1966. Since the beginning, it showed psychedelic influences, which would grow till the end of the decade. After some months, Signe left to take care of her children and Grace Slick was recruited. They released in early 1967 their most successful album, Surrealistic Pillow, containing White Rabbit and Somebody to Love, their biggest hits. It was "the summer of love" and Jefferson Airplane became one of the most acclamated psychedelic bands, playing in the famous Monterey festival. In late 1967 they released an experimental album with long suites, After Bathing at Baxter's. Songs like Rejoice and Spare Chaynge show that Jefferson Airplane was among the pioneers of going a step further than the psychedelic rock. The next album, Crown of Creation is a bit less experimental, the sound is more deep (less "happy psychedelic") and considered by many their best album. HIghlights are the electronic experimental Chushingura and the fantastic The House of Pooneil Corners. In 1969 they released a partly-live album, Bless its Pointed Head, where all the virtuosity of Casady and Kaukonen can be appreciated. In late 69 they released another studio album, Volunteers, which had some great psychedelic songs and some prog-oriented acts, like Wooden Ships, Eskimo Blu...
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Surrealistic PillowSurrealistic Pillow
Remastered
RCA 2003
Audio CD$3.59
$1.92 (used)
Worst of Jefferson AirplaneWorst of Jefferson Airplane
Remastered
RCA 2006
Audio CD$3.34
$2.97 (used)
VolunteersVolunteers
Extra tracks
Sbme Special Mkts. 2004
Audio CD$2.86
$6.02 (used)
Crown of Creation - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl ReplicaCrown of Creation - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl Replica
Collector's Edition · Limited Edition · Remastered
Culture Factory USA 2013
Audio CD$12.78
$21.73 (used)
The EssentialThe Essential
Sony Legacy 2012
Audio CD$9.98
$5.99 (used)
Bark - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl ReplicaBark - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl Replica
Collector's Edition · Limited Edition · Remastered
Culture Factory USA 2013
Audio CD$12.82
$21.75 (used)
Volunteers - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl ReplicaVolunteers - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl Replica
Collector's Edition · Limited Edition · Remastered
Culture Factory USA 2013
Audio CD$10.57
$21.77 (used)
Original Album ClassicsOriginal Album Classics
Box set
Sony Legacy 2013
Audio CD$15.68
$23.25 (used)
Surrealistic Pillow - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl ReplicaSurrealistic Pillow - Paper Sleeve - CD Vinyl Replica
Collector's Edition · Limited Edition · Remastered
Culture Factory USA 2013
Audio CD$12.73
$21.72 (used)
The Essential Jefferson AirplaneThe Essential Jefferson Airplane
Remastered
RCA 2005
Audio CD$11.67
$9.93 (used)
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3h 30m
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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Classic Rock LP VOLUNTEERS US $5.99 [0 bids]
4h 56m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Classic Rock LP THE WORST OF JEFFERSON AIRPLANE US $5.99 [0 bids]
4h 56m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Classic Rock LP BLOWS AGAINST THE EMPIRE US $5.99 [0 bids]
4h 56m
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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE - AFTER BATHING AT BAXTER'S (LTD) NEW CD US $23.59 Buy It Now 5h 16m
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Jefferson Airplane - Live At The Fillmore - November 25th 1966 NEW CD US $21.02 Buy It Now 8h 35m
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Jefferson Airplane, Robin Trower, Whitesnake lp record album US $12.00 [0 bids]
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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE 'JOURNEY . THE BEST OF' 21-TRACK CD US $8.14 Buy It Now 9h 19m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE 'VOLUNTEERS' 15-TRACK CD US $8.14 Buy It Now 9h 20m
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2400 Fulton Street: An Anthology by Jefferson Airplane 2 CD SET US $4.99 Buy It Now 9h 24m
Jefferson Airplane "Flight Log 1965-1976" 2 LP Compilation US $6.59 [0 bids]
9h 27m
Jefferson Airplane "Takes Off" , Chauffuer Blues US $5.79 [0 bids]
9h 27m
Jefferson Airplane "The Worst of Jefferson Airplane" 1970 US $5.59 [0 bids]
9h 27m
Jefferson Airplane "Surrealistic Pillow" , Plastic Fantastic Lover US $4.59 [0 bids]
9h 27m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE TAKES OFF BEAUTIFUL COPY IN NM SHRINK DEEPGROOVE US $24.99 [0 bids]
9h 27m
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9h 28m
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9h 39m
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10h 15m
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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE LP Volunteers 1969 Rca insert psychedelic grace slick US $8.00 [0 bids]
10h 41m
Jefferson Airplane Bless Its Pointed Little Head {LSP-4133} **WITH INSERT** LP US $5.50 [0 bids]
10h 50m
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10h 53m
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11h 33m
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11h 33m
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12h 3m
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12h 14m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Somebody To Love/ 45/ 7"/1967/ RCA/ Rock US $4.99 [0 bids]
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12h 18m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: Pretty As You Feel/Wild Turkey (rock vinyl 45 CANADA) US $12.00 Buy It Now 12h 23m
Jefferson Airplane Volunteers RCA Quadradisc NICE US $19.99 [0 bids]
12h 25m
Jefferson Airplane : Jefferson Airplane CD (1997) US $10.21 Buy It Now 12h 36m
Bark by Jefferson Airplane(Grunt....1971) VG LP US $3.00 [0 bids]
12h 37m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE -- Flight Log -- 2 LP set with booklet. -- 1977 release US $7.00 [0 bids]
12h 55m
Jefferson Airplane Self Titled LP NM Epic E45271 1989 US $19.95 Buy It Now 13h 7m
Jefferson Airplane Crown Of Creation LP NM RCA Victor LSP-4058 US $19.95 Buy It Now 13h 7m
Jefferson Airplane The Worst Of LP NM RCA Victor LSP-4459 1970 US $19.95 Buy It Now 13h 7m
Jefferson Airplane Thirty Secords Over Winterland LP NM Grunt BFL1-0147 1973 US $19.95 Buy It Now 13h 7m
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13h 18m
Jefferson Airplane - Somebody To Love/My Best... - Spanish Picture Sleeve PS 7" US $14.99 [0 bids]
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13h 19m
VINTAGE 1971 JEFFERSON AIRPLANE GRUNT BARK ALBUM RECORD LP APRS-8410 US $9.99 [0 bids]
13h 21m
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13h 22m
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13h 22m
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13h 26m
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Thirty Seconds Over Winterland 1st US 8-TR tape STILL SEALED US $14.95 [0 bids]
13h 31m
1967 Jefferson Airplane ?Somebody To Love / She Has Funny Cars EX RCA 47-9140 US $8.25 Buy It Now 13h 34m
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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE - CROWN OF CREATION [BONUS TRACKS] - NEW CD US $7.98 Buy It Now 13h 44m
Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow {LSP-3766} Record, Vinyl, Album, LP US $6.50 [0 bids]
14h 4m
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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE shows & tickets


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JEFFERSON AIRPLANE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 47 ratings
Takes Off
1966
3.58 | 140 ratings
Surrealistic Pillow
1967
3.84 | 83 ratings
After Bathing at Baxter's
1967
3.89 | 90 ratings
Crown of Creation
1968
3.55 | 71 ratings
Volunteers
1969
2.68 | 33 ratings
Bark
1971
3.11 | 29 ratings
Long John Silver
1972
3.85 | 13 ratings
Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun (as Baron von Tollbooth & the Chrome Nun)
1973
1.71 | 16 ratings
Jefferson Airplane
1989

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.38 | 21 ratings
Bless Its Pointed Little Head
1969
2.88 | 13 ratings
Thirty Seconds Over Winterland
1973
4.03 | 11 ratings
Live At The Monterey Festival
1991
2.60 | 11 ratings
Live At The Fillmore East
1998
4.00 | 2 ratings
Through The Looking Glass
1999
4.02 | 4 ratings
At The Family Dog Ballroom
2007
3.92 | 7 ratings
The Woodstock Experience
2009
4.00 | 4 ratings
Return To The Matrix - 02/01/68
2010
4.33 | 3 ratings
Live At The Fillmore Auditorium - We Have Ignition - 11/25/66 & 11/27/66
2010
3.75 | 4 ratings
Live At The Fillmore Auditorium - Early & Late Shows - Grace's Debut - 10/16/66
2010
4.00 | 3 ratings
Live At The Fillmore Auditorium - Late Show - Signe's Farewell - 10/15/66
2010

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.22 | 12 ratings
Fly Jefferson Airplane
2004

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.06 | 9 ratings
The Worst Of Jeffreson Airplane
1970
4.40 | 5 ratings
Early Flight
1974
3.67 | 3 ratings
Flight Log
1977
4.00 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Jefferson Airplane
1978
4.00 | 7 ratings
2400 Fulton Street
1987
3.00 | 1 ratings
White Rabbit & Other Hits
1990
4.60 | 5 ratings
Loves You
1992
4.04 | 6 ratings
Journey - The Best Of Jefferson Airplane
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Collections: Jefferson Airplane
2003
4.00 | 2 ratings
Jefferson Airplane ('I Miti Musica' series)
2004
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Very Best Of Jefferson Airplane
2007
1.27 | 2 ratings
Collection 2CD: Jefferson Airplane
2008

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Come Up the Years
1966
0.00 | 0 ratings
Bringing Me Down
1966
0.00 | 0 ratings
My Best Friend
1966
5.00 | 1 ratings
Somebody to Love
1967
4.00 | 1 ratings
White Rabbit
1967
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil
1967
0.00 | 0 ratings
Watch Her Ride
1967
0.00 | 0 ratings
Surrealistic Pillow EP
1967
0.00 | 0 ratings
Greasy Heart
1968
0.00 | 0 ratings
If You Feel Like China Breaking
1968
0.00 | 0 ratings
Crown of Creation
1968
0.00 | 0 ratings
Plastic Fantastic Lover (live)
1969
3.05 | 2 ratings
Volunteers
1969
0.00 | 0 ratings
Mexico
1970
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pretty as You Feel
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Long John Silver
1972
2.00 | 1 ratings
Selections From Jefferson Airplane Loves You
1992

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Volunteers by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1969
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Volunteers
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I first listened to the song "Volunteers" and to JEFFERSON AIRPLANE in the "Woodstock" triple LP album from 1970. This song is a very energetic political, anti-war song, somewhat simple (2-3 chords), but maybe the anti-war and "revolutionary" political messages of the lyrics were more important then than the music itself. It has the late very good session piano player Nicky Hopkins as guest. He also appeared with the band in the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Unfortunately, the original film of that Festival did not include songs played by this band although they were represented in both of the original LP compilations of the Festival which were released as "Woodstock" in 1970 and as "Woodstock 2" in 1971. It seems that they finally appear in a new version of the film done some 30 years or more after that Festival was organized.

"Volunteers" is maybe one of their most popular and known songs.

The B-side of this single also was taken from the "Volunteers" LP from 1969. In fact, it is the first song from that album, and this song in particular is longer but musically very similar in some parts to the "Volunteers" song but with more chords in the other parts of the song. It also has Nicky Hopkins on piano.

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 Volunteers by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.55 | 71 ratings

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Volunteers
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars End of an era

"All your private property is target for your enemy. And your enemy is we."

Great line Paul though it does make me wonder what your bank balance is these days.

After the letdown that was "Crown of Creation" the Airplane came back with their last truly great album "Volunteers." Things had changed so fast in just a few years. Musically the band were perhaps influenced by their friends in the Dead, who had also moved from hallucinogenic explorations to a cross of harder rock tempered by a healthy dose of country-flavored hayride music. But while the Dead were happy to keep the lyrical themes mostly wide-eyed and road-ramblin', Kantner was getting angry and serving up plenty of good lefty rhetoric as noted at the top. Whatever currents were tossing them about in the chaos of this period, and it was very chaotic in the band, they managed to deliver what might be their finest work. It's certainly arguable: the Airplane's first five albums are all amazing in their own way and you can easily find people who will champion each of them as the best Airplane album. While "Volunteers" may lack the naive beauty of "Surrealistic Pillow" or the enjoyable insanity of "Baxters", it delivers some of their finest songs.

"Your worst enemy is yourself. There is no us and them. It's all us. We were very naive." -Grace

Recorded in the spring of 1969 and feeling very much like a last gasp, the album is bookended by Kantner's anthemic observations on the counterculture, "We Can Be Together" and "Volunteers" (co-written by Marty) which are very much sister tracks. They are equal parts anger and lament, trying to marshal the kids to stick together while at the same time calling for revolt. (He claims the band was not political and only commenting on what it saw.) The first is particularly effective in capturing the turbulence of what youth felt like at the time. The contrast of joy and anger is represented, musically and vocally, brilliantly by the melody and Marty and Grace's vocal. Oh my what a start! Side one then heads for Marin county for an afternoon in the country with "Good Shephard" and "The Farm." It wraps up with one of those fantastic mind-bending Grace tracks called "Hey Fredrick" with poetic lyrics and a sensual feel. Grace says the song is about doing what thou wilt when someone is saying you can't or you shouldn't. Not surprisingly Grace raises her finger again to the naysayers. Kaukonen lays some very hearty leads over the middle section. Yet again it is Slick who provides the band's most creative material.

"Turn My Life Down" was something of a quaint return to the sound of Surrealistic Pillow, the band coming full circle. The next track "Wooden Ships" is one of the best songs of the 60s, co-written by Stephen Stills, David Crosby, and Kantner. The Airplane version is far more powerful and dramatic than the earlier CSN version, which is more dreamy and laid back. Both are excellent. "Eskimo Blue Day" is another very strong tracks with superb arrangements, Grace is so powerful here belting out the vocal which deals with change in our lives. If they didn't know the classic line-up was splitting after this album then it was pure luck that had them sounding so dramatic and road wise. You can feel the "end of the road" throughout this album, lyrically and musically. Just before the climactic title track is a short instrumental interlude where Grace plays a theme song of the Soviet Army on organ. Crazy as it sounds it work perfectly. No matter how serious the world was getting this band was not going to forget to have fun. It's one reason they are remembered so fondly after so many decades.

If someone wanted to get just one Airplane album I'd still push them toward Surrealistic Pillow or Baxters. But in reality all of their 60s albums are pretty much essential to a deep rock collection--a stunningly good run for an amazing American band. You can't go wrong with albums like "Volunteers." Dryden would be gone after this album, Balin next, and the Airplane would fold not long after.

"All in all, a good time was had by all who attended."

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 After Bathing at Baxter's by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.84 | 83 ratings

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After Bathing at Baxter's
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Though the preceding Surrealistic Pillow was their breakout album, Jefferson Airplane's sound is sufficiently reconfigured on After Bathing At Baxter's that if you're looking for a followup to hits like White Rabbit you're probably going to be disappointed. With material ranging from naive psychedelic pop numbers to sound collages reminiscent of what Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were producing at the time, this album attempts to establish the Airplane as more than just a mere pop band.

No longer is there the weird division between standout tracks like White Rabbit and the more straight ahead blues rock numbers that acted as filler on Surrealistic Pillow; instead, all the songs are part of broader conceptual suites, a technique which perhaps suggests more than a few listens to Zappa and the Mothers' Absolutely Free. However, listened to against that album the true avant-garde force of the 1960s is revealed and the Airplane feel drab and self-absorbed by comparison. Indeed, the less nostalgia you have for the hippy era, the less staying power this album is likely to offer.

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 Crown of Creation by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.89 | 90 ratings

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Crown of Creation
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I actually prefer to this one to Surrealistic Pillow, since I find that by this point Jefferson Airplane's psychedelic freak rock had hit a more consistent tone. From the opening Lather, which transforms jarringly from a typical hippy-era lamentation about having to grow up to a depressing portrait of a person who is too developmentally challenged to join the real world, to the closing House at Pooneil Corners (stopping off to quote Stranger In a Strange Land as part of a defence of polyamory along the way in Triad), the album is dripping with the flavour of the Haight-Ashbury crowd of the 1960s. You don't get much closer to hippy ground zero than this mushroom cloud, at least in terms of the subject matter, though the actual music is far less interesting than many of their contemporaries' work, being fairly unpolished hippy-folk for the most part. More interesting for what they are singing about than what they are singing over, in other words.

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 After Bathing at Baxter's by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.84 | 83 ratings

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After Bathing at Baxter's
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

3 stars I still remember to this very day the first time I've heard a Jefferson Airplane song. I've discovered an old Cassette tape that had many great songs like 'White Bycicle' from Tomorrow, 'SLAWBR' from Cream, Deep Purple and many more. In fact I only discovered the songs names many years later.

The song in question was 'White Rabbit' from Surrealistic Pillow (1967), it was so fresh and exciting even 30 years later. When I finally was able to listen to the whole album I was so disappointed...

It's not really different with their next album After Bathing At Baxter's (1967) released later in that same year. The band try to go further in their Psychedelic/Acid Rock sound (with hints and colors of Prog Rock), but their Blues Rock background pretty much destroy it for me.

Even though the band is trying to go on and even created some suites in the album, the general sound is more like a Blues Rock/Folk Rock album than a development. Even on their next album Crown Of Creation (1968) they were still the same band. They lost their momentum, they should get forward, instead they used their fame to serve as stagnation.

Not the album is bad, it's not, but it lacks depth.

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 Crown of Creation by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.89 | 90 ratings

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Crown of Creation
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The hangover album.

1967 San Fran was quite the party by all accounts, and Baxters summed up beautifully the craziness of the scene, a snapshot of "acid incense and balloons" as the song goes. It couldn't last of course and 1968 was a bit of a drag in comparison, even the Airplane were not immune. "Crown of Creation" is anything but its grandiose title, a huge drop off in majesty from the two previous stunners. The band sounds tired (which they were, being on a crazy schedule), the songwriting sounds phoned-in, and the album is the spiritual hangover of the four 'classic line-up' albums. I think that even those who like the songs of this set would admit it doesn't have the same fresh vibe of the previous two. That's not to say there aren't some gems of course.

Let's start with what's great, namely the first and last tracks. "Lather" is fantastic leftover psychedelia, a little present from Grace to her boyfriend Spencer who was turning 30. She sings of lost youth and a boy stuck in childhood as his friends come of age. What makes it work is the haunting childlike melody that is beautiful but eerie along with her clever, slightly deranged sounding delivery. The closer "The House At Pooneil Corners" is a drop dead classic, a monster split personality epic with apocalyptic tones on one side and breezy contrasting psych chorus on the other. The definitive version is the live rooftop performance they gave for Godard in New York, beautifully filmed by the master filmmaker. Search for it on YouTube, it's there in all it's glory. For the record they pulled this rooftop stunt two months before the Beatles copied it.

I'm afraid things go downhill from there. "Triad" is Grace doing a boring Crosby track, being as hypocritical about relationships as Kantner would later be about wealth. She chooses to exalt how sophisticated an open three-way relationship is, then she later admits in an interview she'd want no part of such a relationship...ok, thanks Grace. Marty sounds especially deflated on tracks like "Star Track" where he essentially lets the boys noodle for long stretches. Kaukonen and Casady were outstanding players who were stretching out on Crown as they were in the live shows, but their jamming isn't enough to elevate these proceedings to masterpiece level. The title track is particularly boring and repetitive, perhaps as uninspired as I've ever heard this line-up. Don't get me wrong, Crown is still a good album with enough to make it worth owning-it simply falls a bit short of the other three Airplane classics. Most rock fans are going to want to own all four albums by the classic line-up, from Surrealistic Pillow to Volunteers. An amazing band.

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 The Worst Of Jeffreson Airplane by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1970
3.06 | 9 ratings

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The Worst Of Jeffreson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by the philosopher

3 stars This could be a nice introduction record to Jefferson Airplane, which is one of the bands associated with the west coast psychedelic movement together with the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, United States of America, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Love and It's a Beautiful Day. The basic sound of Jefferson Airplane is rooted within folk and bluesrock with some slightly psychedelic effects. The band plays these styles with a great amount of enthousiasm which is especially hearable within the many multivocal parts. This collection covers Jefferson Airplane's most succesful period from Jefferson Airplane takes Off to Volunteers. The songs come forth in a chronically following.

Because Jefferson Airplane did change a lot in songwriting, but far less in sound, this compilation listens like a studio record. That makes this compilation a lot better then most others. Further it contains their greatest hits "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" and a good selection of less known songs. My favourite songs seem to come from the "Crown of Creation" record with its titlesong, the instrumental (and by far the most psychedelic of this record) "Chusingura" and "Lather" (an artrock song with lots of added sound effects like typing, explosions, etc., etc.).

This record is a nice buy for those who are not welknown to Jefferson Airplane. It's however not progressive and should not be tried by prog purists and the like. 3,5 stars.

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 After Bathing at Baxter's by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.84 | 83 ratings

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After Bathing at Baxter's
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Finnforest
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The Airplane's masterpiece

The Summer of Love? As mentioned in my Pillow review Kantner (and others) have stated that the true magical moment in San Fran was '66, not the "summer of love" 1967. The Airplane were coming off the success of "Surrealistic Pillow" and its hit singles. They had taken on Bill Graham as manager and were working very hard trying to record the follow-up while gigging, all throughout that magical summer when tour buses began rolling through the Haight and young people were flocking there from across the country. It was one of those situations where something quite special had taken place but the magic was unsustainable and would be ruined ultimately by human nature. The initial innocence and the taste of freedom and expression were wonderful combined with the intoxicant of youth, but within another year the scene would degenerate into excess, hard drugs, scam artists, and eventually poisonous politics. Despite the chaos of 1967 or perhaps because of it, Baxters would be the masterpiece of Jefferson Airplane. It stands with "Piper" and "Sgt. Pepper" and the other great albums of 1967.

Recording began May 22nd 1967 making "Baxters" the product of the craziness of that summer. It was recorded mostly in the middle of the night by a band trying to turn their previous album on its head. With the success of Pillow the band had nearly complete carte blanche to do whatever the hell they wanted without concerns about the commercial potential, and they were smart enough to realize such attitudes among the suits would not last, so they made the best of it. The album was pretty much written in the studio without central planning, mostly by Kantner, the band bursting with creative intent and fueled by copious amounts of hallucinogens.....along with heavy drinking by Grace and Spencer. But it mattered not...this was the party, this was the time where they could do little wrong, and this was the album that would capture Jefferson Airplane at the peak of their career.

While it's true that the album was experimental and ambitious, what makes it a masterpiece is something much simpler: "Baxters" was change mostly unsullied by cynicism and dysfunction. While true that darker topics were entering the writing, by sheer luck, magic, or something else, this is the album that listeners can inhale to experience life, joy, sunny June morning dew on the grass, children laughing, first kiss innocence. For the band descent had already started via egos, factions and cocaine, but for the listener the album captured a moment that could always be held tight. These feelings were not only a San Fran thing. Young people everywhere would soon feel a longing for escape. All these years later the escape wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and what was seen as old fashioned has in some ways been redeemed. Still, one has to hand it to the musicians for leaving such documents of the period.

This masterful rallying cry of chaos begins with an erupting bit of feedback before the "Pooneil" track becomes a textbook example of what Grace could do with her voice. The multi-vocalist approach was so instrumental in Airplane's vibe, Grace's sultry and powerful wail, Marty's smooth and comforting piece of the puzzle. At the same time the Casady/Kaukonen wing were making their greatest leaps forward in their playing. The track bleeds into "A small package" which is a direct result of the band trying their hand at being Zappa/Mothers. It is a bit silly and indulgent as its critics charge and yet it works perfectly in the concept of this album. You have to remember, this is not an album to play here and there while running errands. This is a piece that is to be savored in its entirety when you have time to shut out the world and dissolve into it.

Marty was feeling marginalized by this point, being openly ridiculed by Jack and Jorma for his "square" tastes. Sadly his only writing contribution here is the lovely "Young Girl Sunday Blues" which is probably the albums most "normal" track. "Martha" is this lovely, lilting, kaleidoscope ode to a young mischievous girl who hung out in the band's social circle. It turns into "Wild Tyme H" which famously finds the band exclaiming proudly "I'm doing things that haven't got a name yet." In "The Last Wall of the Castle" Jorma is ferocious, the fuzz guitar leads entering a new and heavier territory. He would become very enamored with the Cream approach which would lead he and Casady to Hot Tuna.

"I wrote what was interesting to me assuming people had read this stuff. But there's a larger record-buying audience out there that doesn't know [&*!#]." -Grace, about "rejoyce"

And then we get to "rejoyce" which is the album's finest moment for me and proved that Grace was indeed more than a charismatic singer. Loosely based on Joyce's "Ulysses" Slick twists the lyrics and takes them different places, while coming up with some of the Airplane's most interesting recorded music. With the guitars mostly quiet she conjures epic dreaminess and fantasy with her voice and piano, utilizing disjointed sections, some eastern influences, and "discordant, brooding, ominous chord sequences" aptly described by Airplane biographer Jeff Tamarkin (Got A Revolution - The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane.) "rejoyce" always leaves me to wonder what could have been had the Airplane veered this direction with their next album, had they went for a sparser and more experimental studio mind bomb as opposed to heading more in the rock direction favored by the grooving Tuna boys.

On Halloween 1967 the singers were not around, so the future Tuna and Dryden set about laying down what became the 9 minutes of pure improvisation known as "Spare Chaynge." A bit long winded but largely successful if you like guitar noodling, it again fits this particular album just fine. After Grace's witty "Two Heads" the album closes with Paul's tribute to "acid, incense and balloons" at the park. "Saturday Afternoon" evokes the spirit of the hippy celebration as well as any song ever did. Baxters is one in a series of triumphant albums by this great American band, your favorite will depend on your tastes. All of albums through Volunteers belong in every respectable rock collection.

"To us, Baxters was a performance and artistic success because, like spoiled little brats, we got to do whatever we wanted to do. But I say "spoiled little brats" with a certain amount of fondness." -Jack Casady

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 The Woodstock Experience by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Live, 2009
3.92 | 7 ratings

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The Woodstock Experience
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars This live Woodstock Experience of Jefferson Airplane is simply incredible, far superior to the studio albums because they are best heard unleashed from the studio, with vibrant improvisations and jamming and trippy freak out extended jam solos. It is a loud live performance, Grace Slick roaring into the mic along with the crunching guitars and pounding drums. All of the versions are different than the studio in many ways, specifically in how Grace changes rhythms and phrasing on the verses. The band are clearly having fun and it shows in the way they launch into experimental interplay of guitars and drums, such as on the frenetic '3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds', with its flawed vocals and chaotic tempo.

The concert boasts some of the most well known Airplane songs such as essential 'Somebody to Love' and 'White Rabbit'. The crowd roar their appreciation, or it may just be the laced brown acid that was not "specifically too good" according to Chip Monck. It is great to hear how the band addressed the crowd such as the intro where Grace tells it how it is, "you have seen the heavy groups now you will see morning maniac music, yeah, believe me, it's a new dawn." Then they launch into the blistering rock beat of "The Other Side of This Life" from "After Bathing At Baxters", one of the few chosen from that album. On this set the band leave behind all the saccharine balladic mush heard too often on their early albums and they rock it up ten notches. There is nothing from the Slick-less "Takes Off" and not that much from the more recent "Crown of Creation". Instead the band revel in a lot of improvisation and blues rock with a psychedelic tinge. At times Rolling Stones riffs are heard, specifically "Jumping Jack Flash" and it works well with Slick's soulful vocals. Jack Casady on bass and Spencer Dryden's drums maintain a constant burning rhythm that the crowd would have relished in after waking from slumber. Great music to eat breakfast too that may or may not have resembled Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast.

The actual Woodstock set of Jefferson Airplane began on Saturday morning, and the band remind the crowd with their "Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon" that is improvised and raw but so great vocally, Grace and Marty whipping up a storm trading off each other. The set originally went for 1 hour and 40 minutes, 8:00am - 9:40am and featured the following songs; "The Other Side of This Life", "Somebody to Love", "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds", "Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon", "Eskimo Blue Day", "Plastic Fantastic Lover", "Wooden Ships", "Uncle Sam Blues", "Volunteers", "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil", "Come Back Baby", "White Rabbit" and "The House at Pooneil Corners". This double disc set features all of these in track order so if one listens only to these songs they can get a feel for what the crowd heard on that infamous performance. The rest of the material from Disc One "Volunteers" is the remaster of the "Volunteers" album, not as good as the live stuff but interesting in its own way.

Highlights of the Woodstock set are the venomous anger in "Eskimo Blue Day", with expletives but some very cool instrumental sections. The band have never sounded so aggressive than on this live set. It is certainly a far cry from "Surrealistic Pillow" which only scraped the surface of what they bad are capable in the live arena. From the forthcoming "Volunteers" album, the live set does have the title track and a ridiculously long version of "Wooden Ships" clocking a whopping 21 and a half minutes, but the band are towering in their virtuoso musicianship throughout. This is followed by the blues marinated 'Uncle Sam's Blues' with Marty blazing away on guitar and vox. The lyrics are anti war which are appropriate in the Vietnam War era setting.

Also from "Volunteers" is "The House at Pooneil Corners" to close the set that jams along and grinds up the crowd with crunching guitars and heavy handed percussion. Slick wails with crazy sustained vocals on "The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil", and it jams for 15 minutes, with some nice laid back bass, guitar and sporadic drum fills. It builds to a duet of power vocals, much of which seems to be made up on the spot, but I don't think there would be any complaints from the stoned crowd. 'Come Back Baby' brings things up to a heavy blues wakeup call after a short break with the crowd clapping for an encore.

As the album closes down, it has been an enjoyable trip back to 1968, and it is always a delight to hear the Woodstock material that thankfully has finally been released to see the light of day from all the artists concerned. From Hendrix to Jefferson Airplane, there is no mistaking the Woodstock music as quintessential from all the bands involved; these are powerhouse performances that helped change the face of rock music. This is part of that musical history and it is indispensable.

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 Surrealistic Pillow by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.58 | 140 ratings

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Surrealistic Pillow
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars "Surrealistic Pillow" is a trippy psychedelic album that bristles with kaleidoscopic lyrics and unusual time sigs, like mood swings that may occur under the influence. The main drawcard is the two quintessential Jefferson Airplane tracks, 'Somebody To Love' and 'White Rabbit'. However there are other songs on offer that are worthy of attention. There is the jaunty rhythmic 'She Has Funny Cars' with a pounding drum beat and jangly guitars driving it. The rocking '3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds' is terrific with strong harmonies and silver lined with simplistic guitar riffs. 'Plastic Fantastic Lover' is short burst of psych rock to close the album. Given the lyrics it is focussing on the "Space Age" where everything had to be modern, made of plastic, and computerised, hence the reference to "IBM", and the electron tube was replaced by the transistor, hence the references to the "TV program waste".

Grace Slick, formerly of the Great Society is a welcome addition to the lineup and remained with them for many years. This lineup is hyped as the most essential and it is hard to disagree once you hear Slick's powerhouse vocals. Jerry Garcia had some input as spiritual adviser (!) and it features some incredible bass playing from Jack Casady.

'Somebody To Love' is a grand excursion into passionate vocals and a melody that jams into your brain, and has haunted airwaves for decades. One has to admire the powerful vocals of Grace Slick who is a tour de force on this album. Once you hear 'White Rabbit' you will never forget that melody. It has a raga rhythm and psychedelic lyrics based on Alice in Wonderland; "one pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all, go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall." Other characters are drawn into the bizarre lyrics such as the "hookah smoking caterpillar" the white rabbit, the white knight who is "talking backwards", the red queen, who is "off her head", and the dormouse. One can take from the mushroom and acid soaked lyrics what they wish, but the final sentiment culminates with the enigmatic "Feed your head!" Perhaps this was the catch cry of the flower power movement. It is all captured in 2 and a half minutes, a perfect conceptual masterpiece. Even the way Slick sings in an Arabic Eastern lilt, along with the Bolero rhythm, is completely out of the box. The song simply stands alone in the canon of Haight Ashbury counterculture and psychedelia.

Certainly it is not a perfect album though, with dated sugar coated songs such as 'My Best Friend' that could be mistaken for something from The Partridge Family. I am no fan of the quieter moments on the album that are not sung by Grace such as 'Today', and 'Coming Back To Me', sung by Marty Balin. It is a real hit and miss affir for me, with moments of grandeaur and some moments that are dated and dreary. The album was groundbreaking in 1966, it rings with a distinct reverberation, a result of the large recording room's high ceilings at RCA studios, and the placement of the microphones. This is of course part of its charm. Nevertheless, despite all its flaws, "Surrealistic Pillow" has been touted as a milestone album and as a spawn of 1966, a year of change, pre-Woodstock era, it is a pillar of importance; and the best thing from Jefferson Airplane.

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