Side One of the Jefferson Airplane‘s classic 1967 album ‘Surealistic Pillow’ gets a heavy workout in the Coen brothers’ latest film, ‘A Serious Man,’ loosely based on the directors’ own coming-of-age in suburban Minnesota in the era of acid rock. Bar mitzvah boy Danny listens to ‘Somebody to Love’ on transistor-radio earphones to get through Hebrew school.
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So declared the back cover of a record album titled Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, in attempting to describe the stunning and exciting new music contained within. Like a jet, it soared, and like the skies above, it seemed boundless. The year was 1966 and the world was a place full of possibilities, of ever-expanding horizons. [Read More]
#146: Surrealistic Pillow
Psychedelic scholars have long tried to pin down just what the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia did on this album (he is credited as “musical and spiritual adviser”). But the real trip is the Airplane’s concise sorcery, a hallucinatory distillation of folk-blues vocals, garage-rock guitar and crisp pop songwriting. The effects were felt nationwide. Grace Slick’s vocal showcases, “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” made Surrealistic Pillow a commercial smash during San Francisco’s Summer of Love, and Marty Balin’s spectral “Today” is still the greatest ballad of that city’s glory days.
Total album sales: 500,000
Peak chart position: 3
BMI Magazine, March 1968 (www.janisjoplin.net)
In The Press: “In the beginning, the rock world was all Adams and no Eves,” Newsweek commented. But now, “the typical rock group resembles a beehive, three or four drones humming around a queen bee.”
The invasion of girls into the pop music scene provided features for two other major publications in January-the New York Daily News and Glamour. [Read More]
Though Jorma Kaukonen’s incendiary work in the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna marks him as one of rock’s all-time great electric guitarists, his first love was country-blues finger picking – Delta to Piedmont, ragtime to folk and gospel. [Read More]
by Jeff Tamarkin – Relix Magazine, April, 1993
Reading the following interview, one might get a sense that there are two Marty Balins. The one, who talks about the early days of Jefferson Airplane, when there was happiness in the air and flowers in the hair, is a fun guy who likes to reminisce nostalgically. The Marty Balin who recalls the down side of the Airplane years, when heavy drugs entered the picture and peace and love turned to talk of revolution and infighting among band members, comes off as bitter and dismissive. [Read More]
Matthew Grenwald (Rolling Stone) – (April 19, 1999)
Founding member of Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape dead at fifty-two.
Alexander “Skip” Spence, one of the founding members of both Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape — two of the Bay Area’s most influential bands — died on April 16th from lung cancer. Spence, who would have turned fifty-three on Sunday, died at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, where he had been fighting a number of ailments. Spence was checked into a Northern California hospital with pneumonia on April 5th, and his condition quickly worsened. In an odd twist of fate, Birdman Records was just getting ready to release More Oar, a tribute album with performances by Robert Plant, Beck, Tom Waits and others, in a few weeks. The album is based on Spence’s 1969 solo album, Oar. The proceeds of the album, including artist royalties, were to be donated to a fund to help with Spence’s medical bills. Spence, a uniquely talented musician and songwriter, had suffered from mental illness for the last thirty years. [Read More]