After several solo projects for Grunt Records, the members of Jefferson Airplane finally came together again in March 1972 for the first time since the Bark album was released. Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Joey Covington, and Papa John Creach all returned. Sessions at Wally Heider Studios continued for three months, but tensions were high and several songs were recorded by each member recording their own part separately. Joey Covington left the band during the sessions and John Barbata and Sammy Piazza handled the drums for the rest of the sessions. Recording was completed in May and the album was set for release in July, but not before the record company forced the band to scrub a line from the song "The Son of Jesus" electronically, which referred to a "bastard son of Jesus". Live versions of the song were performed with the offending line restored.
The album was released on Grunt Records, and climbed the Billboard charts to #20. The band geared up for a tour of the United States, their first major tour since 1970. It started in July, and the lineup was Kantner, Slick, Kaukonen, Casady, Creach, Barbata, and David Freiberg. Freiberg joined the tour to take over Marty Balin's harmony vocals, but also played tambourine and "tried to keep the band together." The tour ended in September at Winterland, with Balin joining for an encore. Live performances from the tour at the Chicago Auditorium and Winterland were released as the live album, Thirty Seconds Over Winterland.
The original vinyl LP release (1972) featured an album cover that folded up into a replica of a cigar box. The record sleeve bore an image of cigars; this image was later used as cover art on CD releases. The inside bottom of the box was covered with a photograph of marijuana.