Volunteers (Jefferson Airplane album)

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For the term "volunteer", see Volunteer. For other uses, see Volunteer (disambiguation).
Volunteers
Studio album by Jefferson Airplane
Released November 1969
Recorded April 1969 at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco
Genre Hard rock, country rock, psychedelic rock, acid rock
Length 44:19
69:36 (2004 reissue)
Label RCA Victor
Producer Al Schmitt
Jefferson Airplane chronology
Bless Its Pointed Little Head
(1969)
Volunteers
(1969)
The Worst of Jefferson Airplane
(1970)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau (B)[2]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars[3]

Volunteers is a 1969 album by American psychedelic rock band, Jefferson Airplane, released as RCA Victor LSP-4238. It was also released in a Quadrophonic version in 1973 as RCA Quadradisc APD1-0320. It was controversial at the time because of anti-war messages of certain songs and occasional use of profanity in the lyrics.[citation needed] The original title of the album was intended to be Volunteers of Amerika, but after objections from Volunteers of America the name was shortened.

History[edit]

This was the sixth album recorded by the group and the first to be wholly recorded in San Francisco, at Wally Heider's then state-of-the-art 16-track studio. Guests included Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar, veteran session pianist Nicky Hopkins, future Airplane drummer Joey Covington on percussion, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills. It was one of the earliest 16-track recordings. The back cover of the album shows a picture of the MM-1000 professional 16-track tape recorder built by Ampex which was used to record the album.

The album was marked with strong anti-war and pro-anarchism songs. The theme of nature, communities and ecology was also explored with the songs "The Farm" and "Eskimo Blue Day". The title track was inspired by a "Volunteers of America" garbage truck that awoke singer Marty Balin one morning. The original title of the album was intended to be Volunteers of Amerika, a corruption of Volunteers of America, an American version of the Salvation Army charity; the term being in vogue as an ironic expression of dissatisfaction with America; however the charity objected so the name was shortened to Volunteers.[4]

The album provoked even more controversy with lyrics such as "Up against the wall, motherfucker" (from the song "We Can Be Together") which appeared on the opening track. The offending word was mixed lower on the 45 RPM release of the track to partially 'obscure' it, but it was still audible. The word "motherfucker" was censored on the album lyric sheet as "fred," however.[5] At the time, RCA Records was refusing to allow "fuck" on the album until they were confronted with the fact that they had already set precedent on the Cast Recording Soundtrack of "Hair". "Eskimo Blue Day" was also a point of contention with the chorus line of "doesn't mean shit to a tree" repeated throughout. Musically, the album is characterized by lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen's razor-sharp guitar work (the dueling solos on "Hey Fredrick", plus "Good Shepherd" and "Wooden Ships") and the distinctive piano playing of Nicky Hopkins. It also featured that band dabbling in a country rock sound, particularly in "The Farm" and "Song For All Seasons".

Despite its controversies, the album was a commercial success becoming the band's fourth top twenty hit record and went gold within two months of its release.[6]

This was to be both Jefferson Airplane's founder Marty Balin and drummer Spencer Dryden's last album with the group, (although they did both appear on the "Mexico" single released in 1970 and its B-side "Have You Seen the Saucers?") signifying the end of the best-remembered "classic" lineup. It was to be the last all-new LP for two years; Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen would now devote more of their energy to their embryonic blues group "Hot Tuna", while Paul Kantner and Grace Slick celebrated the birth of their daughter China in 1971.

Releases[edit]

Even though the album was released in late 1969, the cover photo dates back to 1967, and features the band wearing disguises, and was taken during the filming of a promotional film made for their single "Martha."

A specially remixed Quadraphonic (4 channel) version of the album was also released in 1973. The Quad version was available on LP Record using the discrete JVC / RCA CD-4 / Quadradisc system, and Reel to reel, and 8-track cartridge tape. The Quad mixes are noticeably different from the usual (2 channel) stereo mixes (actually, "Hey Fredrick" has a completely different lead vocal, "Volunteers" is a totally different recording, Jorma's guitar lines are different on "We Can Be Together", "Wooden Ships" lacks the 'sailboat sounds' opener, and "The Farm"'s backing vocals by the Ace of Cups is brought up to front). A few tracks from the Quad version were included on the 3-CD box set Jefferson Airplane Loves You, however on the box set the four channel recordings have been reduced to two channels due to the technical limitations of Compact Disc .

The 2004 CD rerelease features five additional bonus tracks from the group's annual Thanksgiving concert at the Fillmore East, New York in 1969.

Legacy[edit]

In 2003, the album was ranked number 370 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The album was released again in 2009 along with the entirety of the Airplane's live performance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 as Jefferson Airplane Woodstock Experience.

Track listing[edit]

Credits from original Vinyl LP and Quadraphonic LP[7]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Quadraphonic Mix Length Length
1. "We Can Be Together"   Paul Kantner 5:56 5:48
2. "Good Shepherd"   traditional, arranged by Jorma Kaukonen 4:21 4:21
3. "The Farm"   Kantner, Gary Blackman 2:32 3:15
4. "Hey Fredrick"   Grace Slick 9:00 8:26
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Quadraphonic Mix Length Length
1. "Turn My Life Down"   Kaukonen 2:54 2:54
2. "Wooden Ships"   David Crosby, Kantner, Stephen Stills 5:50 6:24
3. "Eskimo Blue Day"   Slick, Kantner 6:15 6:31
4. "A Song for All Seasons"   Spencer Dryden 3:28 3:28
5. "Meadowlands"   traditional, arranged by Slick, Kantner 1:04 1:04
6. "Volunteers"   Marty Balin, Kantner 2:21 2:08
2004 CD reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
11. "Good Shepherd" (live, recorded November 28–29 at Fillmore East) traditional, arranged by Kaukonen 7:20
12. "Somebody to Love" (live, recorded November 28–29 at Fillmore East) Darby Slick 4:10
13. "Plastic Fantastic Lover" (live, recorded November 28–29 at Fillmore East) Balin 3:21
14. "Wooden Ships" (live, recorded November 28–29 at Fillmore East) Crosby, Kantner, Stills 7:00
15. "Volunteers" (live, recorded November 28–29 at Fillmore East) Balin, Kantner 3:26

Personnel[7][edit]

Additional personnel[7][edit]

Production[edit]

  • Al Schmitt – producer
  • Rich Schmitt – engineer
  • Maurice (Pat Ieraci) – 16-track
  • Gut – album design, ate PB * J
  • Milton Burke – album design
  • Jefferson Airplane – album design
  • Jim Marshall – cover photo
  • Jim Smircich – back photo
  • Littie Herbie Greene – PB & J photo
  • Produced at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1969 Billboard Pop Albums 13

Single

Year Single Chart Position
1969 "Volunteers" Billboard Pop Singles 65

References[edit]

  1. ^ Newsom, Jim (2011). "Volunteers - Jefferson Airplane | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: Jefferson Airplane". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Ward, Ed (2011). "Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane | Rolling Stone Music | Music Reviews". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff (2003). Got a revolution!: the turbulent flight of Jefferson Airplane. Atria Books. p. 197. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Doggett, Peter (2009). There's a Riot Going on: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the '60s. Canongate U.S. p. 362. ISBN 978-1847671936. 
  6. ^ "Gold & Platinum - March 19, 2010". RIAA. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  7. ^ a b c Volunteers (Vinyl insert). Jefferson Airplane. New York City: RCA. 1969. LSP-4238.