|Studio album by Jefferson Airplane|
|Recorded||October 31 – November 22, 1966 in RCA Victor's Music Center, Hollywood, California|
|Genre||Psychedelic rock, folk rock|
34:4859:03 (2003 reissue)
|Jefferson Airplane chronology|
|The Village Voice||B+|
Surrealistic Pillow is the second album by American psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, released in February 1967 as RCA Victor LSP-3766 (stereo) & LPM-3766 (mono). It is the first album by the band with vocalist Grace Slick and drummer Spencer Dryden. The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard album chart, and has been certified a gold album by the RIAA.
Original drummer Alexander 'Skip' Spence had left the band in mid-1966, replaced by Los Angeles jazz drummer Spencer Dryden, a nephew of Charlie Chaplin. New lead vocalist Slick, formerly with another San Francisco rock band the Great Society, joined the Airplane in the fall of 1966. Slick and Dryden in place on this album and its attendant singles completed the best-known line-up of the group, which would remain stable until Dryden's departure in early 1970.
Jefferson Airplane's fusion of folk rock and psychedelia was original at the time, in line with musical developments pioneered by The Byrds, The Mamas & the Papas, Bob Dylan, The Yardbirds, and The Beatles, amongst other mid-1960s rock bands. Surrealistic Pillow was the first blockbuster psychedelic album by a band from San Francisco, announcing to the world the active bohemian scene that had developed there starting with The Beats during the 1950s, extending and changing through the 1960s into the Haight-Ashbury counterculture. Subsequent exposure generated by the Airplane and others wrought great changes to that counterculture, and by 1968 the ensuing national media attention had precipitated a very different San Francisco scene than had existed in 1966. San Francisco photographer Herb Greene photographed the band for the album's cover art.
Some controversy exists as to the role of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia in the making of the album. His reputed presence on several tracks is denied by producer Rick Jarrard, but he is credited on the RCA label copy, as well as receiving credits on the Flight Log compilation and the Jefferson Airplane Loves You box set. In his sleeve notes for Early Flight  - the 1974 compilation album of previously unreleased material - the band's sometime manager Bill Thompson writes only that Garcia was, "listed as 'spiritual advisor' on the album cover [and] played one of the guitars", on "In The Morning", a track recorded at the "Surrealistic Pillow" sessions, but first included on the album on the 2003 reissue. Garcia himself recalled in a mid-1967 interview that he'd played the high lead on "Today," played on "Plastic Fantastic Lover" and "Comin' Back to Me," and that he had arranged and essentially rewritten "Somebody to Love." He also played on two songs not released until the reissue ("JPP McStep B Blues" as well as "In the Morning") and may have played on "How Do You Feel." Kaukonen said that Garcia was essentially the producer who arranged the songs. A comment by Garcia about the music being "as surrealistic as a pillow" also reportedly inspired the album title.
Singles and reissues
Two singles released from the album later in the year, "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit," peaked respectively at #5 and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and are the band's only Top 40 hits on that chart. The album was mixed in both mono and stereo, and both mixes are available on two 2001 reissues, an RCA Gold CD edition and as part of the Ignition box set. Another stereo reissue appeared on August 19, 2003, with seven bonus tracks, including the mono A-sides of "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." The 2003 reissue was produced by Bob Irwin. The original United Kingdom version of the LP was a mish-mash of the United States version and their first LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.
- Side one
- "She Has Funny Cars" (Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin) – 3:14
- "Somebody to Love" (Darby Slick) – 3:00
- "My Best Friend" (Skip Spence) – 3:04
- "Today" (Balin, Paul Kantner) – 3:03
- "Comin' Back to Me" (Balin) – 5:23
- Side two
- "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" (Balin) – 3:45
- "D.C.B.A.–25" (Kantner) – 2:39
- "How Do You Feel" (Tom Mastin) – 3:34
- "Embryonic Journey" (Kaukonen) – 1:55
- "White Rabbit" (Grace Slick) – 2:32
- "Plastic Fantastic Lover" (Balin) – 2:39
- 2003 reissue bonus tracks
- "In the Morning" (Kaukonen) – 6:21
- "J.P.P. McStep B. Blues" (Spence) – 2:37
- "Go to Her" (Version two) (Kantner, Irving Estes) – 4:02
- "Come Back Baby" (traditional, arranged Kaukonen) – 2:56
- "Somebody to Love" (Mono single version) (Darby Slick) – 2:58
- "White Rabbit" (mono single version) (Grace Slick)/"D.C.B.A.-25" (instrumental) – 5:21
1967 UK release
- Side one
- "My Best Friend"
- "3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds"
- "D.C.B.A. - 25"
- "How Do You Feel"
- "Embryonic Journey"
- "Don't Slip Away" (Balin, Spence)[n 1]
- Side two
- "Come Up The Years" (Balin, Kantner)[n 1]
- "Chauffeur Blues" (Lester Melrose)[n 1]
- "Comin' Back To Me"
- "Somebody To Love"
- These tracks were originally issued in the US on Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.
- Jefferson Airplane
- Marty Balin – vocals, guitar, album design
- Jack Casady – bass guitar, fuzz bass, rhythm guitar
- Spencer Dryden – drums, percussion
- Paul Kantner – rhythm guitar, vocals
- Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar, vocals
- Grace Slick – vocals, piano, organ, recorder
- Additional personnel
- Jerry Garcia – guitar on "Today", "Comin' Back to Me", "Plastic Fantastic Lover", "In the Morning", and "J. P. P. McStep B. Blues"
- Herb Greene – photography
- David Hassinger – engineering
- Rick Jarrard – production
|1967||Billboard 200||3|
|1967||"My Best Friend"||Billboard Pop Singles||103|
|1967||"Somebody to Love"||Billboard Pop Singles||5|
|1967||"White Rabbit"||Billboard Pop Singles||8|
|RIAA – USA||Gold||July 24, 1967|
- Ashley Brown, ed. (1990). "Airplanes and Starships". The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated History of Popular Music 8 (Reference ed.). Marshall Cavendish. pp. 909–913. ISBN 9781854350152.
- "Welcome to the Studio". jeffersonairplane.com. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- Eder, Bruce. "Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
- Christgau, Robert (December 20, 1976). "Christgau's Consumer Guide to 1967". The Village Voice (New York). p. 69. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- RIAA Gold and Platinum database retrieved 24 February 2012.
- Surrealistic Pillow (Vinyl back). Jefferson Airplane. New York City: RCA. 1967. LSP-3766.
- Tamarakin, Jeff (2003). Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-03403-0.
- Flight Log (Vinyl booklet). Jefferson Airplane. San Francisco: Grunt Records. 1977. CYL2-1255.
- Jefferson Airplane Loves You (booklet). Jefferson Airplane. New York City: RCA. 1992. 61110.
- Early Flight (Vinyl gatefold). Jefferson Airplane. New York City: RCA. 1974. CYL1-0437.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone: 2. Archived from the original on 14 December 2006.
- UK issue of Surrealistic Pillow at Discogs.com
- Surrealistic Pillow (Adobe Flash) at Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)
- Album entry at Jefferson Airplane's website