Bark (album)

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Bark
Studio album by Jefferson Airplane
Released September 1971
Recorded December 1970 – July 1971 at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco
Genre Psychedelic rock, hard rock
Length 44:17
Label Grunt
Producer Jefferson Airplane
Jefferson Airplane chronology
The Worst of Jefferson Airplane
(1970)
Bark
(1971)
Long John Silver
(1972)
Alternative cover
Cardboard sleeve that came with the original vinyl LP release (RCA Victor, 1971)

Bark is the sixth studio album by Jefferson Airplane. Released in 1971 as Grunt FTR-1001 (the first album on that label), is one of the late-period albums by Jefferson Airplane, notable for many "firsts" with its major personnel change; It was the first without band founder Marty Balin and the first with violinist Papa John Creach. Drummer Spencer Dryden had also departed, being replaced by Joey Covington. This was the first all new Airplane LP in two years, the previous being Volunteers, released in 1969. It was also the first to be released under the Jefferson Airplane owned Grunt Records label.

Lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen has four songwriting credits on this album, indicative of his growing importance as a composer. At the time of the album's release, he and bassist Jack Casady had already recorded two albums for their spin-off blues group Hot Tuna.

The album was a success upon its release, reaching #11 on the charts and eventually went gold.

Recording history[edit]

Recording for the album began in 1970 following the commercial failure of Grace Slick's "Mexico", a single that rallied against the Nixon administration's anti-marijuana Operation Intercept initiative. Planned tracks included live versions of "Mexico" and its B-side (the Kantner-penned "Have You Seen the Saucers?"), Balin's "You Wear Your Dresses Too Short" and "Emergency", Peter Kaukonen's "Up or Down" (sung by Balin), and Covington's "Whatever The Old Man Does (Is Always Right)" and "The Man (The Bludgeon of the Bluecoat)", a 1950s rhythm and blues pastiche inspired by the contemporaneous murder of Rubén Salazar by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy.[1][2][3] A tour of the United States continued through the autumn of 1970 with violinist Papa John Creach joining the band on the day of Janis Joplin's death. Balin did not perform at the band's concert at Winterland Arena on October 5 in remembrance of Joplin but continued with the tour; nevertheless, he was growing increasingly frustrated with the band's drug use and "playing that messed up cocained music."[2] Jefferson Airplane stopped touring in November 1970 as Grace Slick and Paul Kantner were about to have a child. China Kantner was born on January 25, 1971. During Slick's convalescence, the Covington-led "Pretty as You Feel" (the band's last Billboard Top 100 hit, culled from a longer jam with members of Santana) was recorded in January 1971, while Hot Tuna continued touring and recorded the live First Pull Up, Then Pull Down in March. Recording sessions resumed in the spring of 1971, but Balin—who had not spoken with his bandmates since the end of the 1970 tour—formally left the group in April. The band later admitted that they didn't really know what direction to go in without Balin; although "The Man" was recorded with Little Richard on piano (much to the consternation of Casady) during this period, new songs were ultimately composed by Kantner, Slick, Kaukonen, & Covington in lieu of retaining the 1970-era material.[2] The recording sessions finally concluded at the beginning of July 1971, with the resulting album featuring the core five-member band augmented by Creach on several tracks. "Up or Down" and the studio versions of "Mexico" & "Have You Seen the Saucers?" were later released on the Early Flight compilation.

Release and promotion[edit]

The band launched their own record label, Grunt Records in August 1971 and Bark was the first release. The band played several dates in August in support of the new release, but no tour was planned. Only one date at San Francisco was played after the album's release. The album climbed the Billboard charts, but the band had already moved on to other projects. They soon returned to the studio, but now working on separate albums for their Grunt Records label. Kantner and Slick worked on Sunfighter, Papa John Creach worked on his eponymous debut album, and Kaukonen and Casady worked on their first Hot Tuna studio album, Burgers. With the exception of a couple of dates in early 1972, the band did not play together again until the recording sessions for Long John Silver.

Original vinyl LP release[edit]

The original vinyl LP release featured an outer paper bag with the "JA" logo as though it were bought in a grocery store. The "JA" logo is an homage to the A&P supermarket chain. The bag was wrapped around the record, which was also inside paper. Inside the bag itself was a cardboard cover for storing the record that featured a fish with human false teeth wrapped in paper and tied with string. Also inside the bag was a lyrics sheet insert, colored as pink "butcher paper." The paper bag became the cover art for the CD releases, and the fish image appeared on the CD itself.

Critical reaction[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[4]
Rolling Stone favorable[5]

In The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1st edition, 1979), editor John Swenson wrote, "After Balin left, the group literally fell apart. A cursory listen to the wretched Bark (deleted) will prove the point."

Lester Bangs' original Rolling Stone review (Nov. 11, 1971) was much more favorable: "If you ask me, Bark is the 'Plane's most magnuminious opus since After Bathing at Baxter's, and even if its woof and whissshh ain't quite as supersonic as some of their other platters, it'll getcha there on time just like an amyl nitrate TV Dinner garnished this time with a little Valium. And the zingy rush that Jorma's and Jack's reps rest on streams as strongly as ever just a bit below the surface of the music with a motion seconded in places by the always judicious application of Papa John's sweet gypsy-blue fiddle."[6]

Track listing[7][edit]

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "When the Earth Moves Again"   Paul Kantner 3:54
2. "Feel So Good"   Jorma Kaukonen 4:36
3. "Crazy Miranda"   Grace Slick 3:23
4. "Pretty as You Feel"   Joey Covington, Jack Casady, Kaukonen, Carlos Santana,[2][8] Michael Shrieve[2][8] 4:29
5. "Wild Turkey" (instrumental) Kaukonen 4:45
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Law Man"   Slick 2:42
2. "Rock and Roll Island"   Kantner 3:44
3. "Third Week in the Chelsea"   Kaukonen 4:34
4. "Never Argue with a German If You're Tired or European Song"   Slick 4:31
5. "Thunk"   Covington 2:58
6. "War Movie"   Kantner 4:41

Personnel[7][edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Papa John Creach – violin on "Pretty as You Feel," "Wild Turkey" and "When the Earth Moves Again"
  • Bill Laudner – vocals on "War Movie"
  • Will Scarlett – harmonica on "Third Week in the Chelsea"[2] (uncredited)
  • Carlos Santana – guitar on "Pretty as You Feel"[9] (uncredited)
  • Michael Shrieve – drums on "Pretty as You Feel"[9] (uncredited)

Production[edit]

  • Jefferson Airplane – producer, arrangements, additional ideas
  • A Train – additional ideas
  • Allen Zentz – engineer
  • Masterful Maurice (Pat Ieraci) – engineer, 16-track
  • Acy Lehman – package concept and design
  • Grace Slick – portraits
  • Bill Thompson – portrait of Grace
  • Gary Blackman – art direction, bag poem

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1971 Billboard Pop Albums 11

Single

Year Single Chart Position
1971 "Pretty as You Feel" Billboard Pop Singles 60

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kantner, Paul (February 1971). Paul Kantner. Magazine with Patricia Kennealy. Jazz & Pop. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Tamarakin, Jeff (2003). Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-03403-0. 
  3. ^ http://www.gotarevolution.com/littlerichard.htm
  4. ^ Allmusic Review
  5. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  6. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/bark-19711111#ixzz39wbG6K2o
  7. ^ a b Bark (Vinyl outer paper bag). Jefferson Airplane. San Francisco: Grunt Records. 1971. FTR-1001. 
  8. ^ a b registered as author on file with US copyright office
  9. ^ a b Jefferson Airplane Loves You (booklet). Jefferson Airplane. New York City: RCA. 1992. 61110.