Takes Off, Surrealistic Pillow, After Bathing at Baxter's, and Crown of Creation (RCA / BMG Heritage)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Dec. 19, 2003
Jefferson AirplaneTakes Off (RCA/BMG Heritage)
Jefferson AirplaneSurrealistic Pillow (RCA/BMG Heritage)
Jefferson AirplaneAfter Bathing at Baxter's (RCA/BMG Heritage)
Jefferson AirplaneCrown of Creation (RCA/BMG Heritage) For a band that was so tremendously popular and influential at such a critical moment in the counterculture zeitgeist, Jefferson Airplane has rusted in the hangar of obscurity. Perhaps a re-examination of these psychedelic warriors is in order with the reissue of their first four albums. All discs feature original artwork, generous bonus tracks, and informative liner notes from biographer Jeff Tamarkin. The band's 1966 debut, Takes Off, with original singer Signe Anderson, is clearly a "folk rock" effort, yet it's striking how distinctive their sound was already. The soaring, intertwined vocals, thunderous bass, and searing guitar licks catch air on Surrealistic Pillow, one of the defining albums of 1967's Summer of Love. Featuring a pair of seismic Top 10 hits in "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit," both sung by new vocalist Grace Slick, Pillow catapulted the Airplane to stardom and crystallized the exciting new San Francisco sound for all the world to hear. In the wake of the album's success, the group was given free reign on After Bathing at Baxter's, the result of months-long, drug-fueled studio experimentation. Commercial considerations be damned, Baxter's was actually a logical evolution for a band at the epicenter of those tumultuous times, and although a bit uneven, it contains some inspired music. Far more focused is '68's Crown of Creation, which combines the structure of Pillow with the creative sensibility of Baxter's and features some of the band's best songwriting. It hints at the political direction the Airplane took on the subsequent albums that will hopefully be reissued as well.
(Baxter's; Crown of Creation)