Posts Tagged ‘Spencer Dryden’

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Jefferson Airplane loomed large among the giants of San Francisco psych-rock, experimenting with folky and druggy sounds on their string of influential ’60s LPs. Their vision crystalized on 1967’s ‘Surrealistic Pillow,’ the first of four records to feature their classic sextet lineup of vocalists Grace Slick and Marty Balin, singer-guitarist Paul Kantner, lead guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Casady and drummer Spencer Dryden. That album also marked a commercial peak, spawning the definitive hits “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”

By the time Jefferson Airplane took the stage at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair on the morning of August 17th, 1969, they were understandably very tired. The San Francisco group had been scheduled to perform the night before, a Saturday, but delay upon delay resulted in their set being pushed back again and again.

Following the Who’s well received set, the Airplane plugged in and woke up anyone who’d dared to fall asleep. “Alright, friends,” Grace Slick addressed the sea of humans, “you have seen the heavy groups. Now you will see morning maniac music. Believe me, yeah, it’s a new dawn.”

With Nicky Hopkins sitting in on piano, the Airplane, who were paid $15,000 for their morning’s work, played to the throng but all of the band members later agreed that their performance was anything but inspired. When the filmmakers assembling the Woodstock documentary later approached the group about being included, they were given the thumbs down.

Best Classic Bands’ editor has interviewed all of the members of Jefferson Airplane who performed on that day, some of whom have since left us, as well as others involved in their appearance at the festival. Some of the following recollections appeared in his biography of the band, Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. Others have never before been in print.

As you’ll see, not all of their stories coincide. Hey, it was a long time ago.

Spencer Dryden (drummer): We drove in from Tanglewood [in Massachusetts], where we’d played with B.B. King and the Who, through the Catskills: real pretty, farmland and trees and rolling valleys. We got into the town of Liberty [N.Y.], where there was a big Holiday Inn where everyone was staying. Everybody was in their rooms talking and in the bar, hanging out with Keith Moon.

Some of the guys in the band went [to the festival site] that night, before the thing started, to check out the stage and see what it was like and they came back with stories about how it was amazing—everybody in the world was there. It had rained the night before and there were worries about whether the show was going to go on.

There was a helicopter that was ferrying people back and forth from the hotel to the site and show times were being changed. They’re saying, “You guys gotta get over here right now.” This was the middle of [Saturday] afternoon.

Bill Thompson (manager): The [Holiday Inn] was the great scene. Everybody was staying there. It was Janis, Grace, Marty, [Jerry] Garcia and Pigpen. Keith Moon was in my room all night, smoking pot. We flew to Woodstock in the helicopter. The [promoters] were hoping to get 50,000 people. They weren’t set up for more people than that.

Spencer Dryden: We couldn’t get a helicopter so we had to drive in.

Grace Slick (singer): We were supposed to go on at nine o’clock at night.

Spencer Dryden: We were supposed to go on at midnight. We finally went on at dawn. And by that time, most of the audience was asleep.

Before us on Saturday night, they had Santana, Creedence Clearwater, Sly and the Family Stone, Janis Joplin, the Who, the Dead. [Before we went on] I went to [promoter] Michael Lang and I said, “Where’s the money?” [He said] “Oh, man, you know, this is so beautiful.” They’d all taken acid and were barefoot. “This is so beautiful, man, all these people; it’s so cool.” “Yeah. Where’s the money?” Finally I went to [managers of other bands] and I said, “Look, these guys are gonna fucking burn us unless we get this. This is bullshit. Look at all this money. They’re making a movie,” and the whole thing. So on Saturday afternoon we demanded the money. And Saturdays, in ’69, used to be like Sundays are now with banks. They weren’t open. But somehow or another Michael Lang got this guy to go in the bank on Saturday and open up the vault and we all got paid. Bill Thompson: We insisted on closing [Saturday night] at Woodstock. We always closed; we were the headliner. We were big enough at that time to get our way. It was amazing how many people were there, 400,000. We couldn’t believe it. It was raining and muddy. These guys [the promoters] weren’t anticipating it.

Jorma Kaukonen (lead guitarist/singer): We went on like 18 hours late, something ridiculous. My wife was there but I had this girlfriend who had also shown up, so I was really concerned with keeping the two of them as far apart as possible. My ex-wife used to claim that one of the reasons I played so long was that I was afraid to face her when I came offstage, and there could have been some truth to this. I could hardly wait to get onstage at this particular venue.

Marty Balin (singer): Woodstock was a lot of fun. It was a muddy mess at times. I remember it being something really spectacular for me, the stage and the lights at night and the performances. But we didn’t get to go on until morning, and by then we had been drunk and re-sobered up and drunk again and sobered up. I mean, it was terrible by the time we went on. The sun was coming up, people were asleep in the mud. It was a corny time.

Grace Slick: Woodstock everybody remembers with a little more fondness than I do. I have a bladder about the size of a dime and you couldn’t get off the stage to go to the bathroom. It was not that well organized. I don’t think they expected as many people as they did.

Glenn McKay (light show operator): I always had a bad taste about Woodstock. I waited the whole fucking night. I even cut holes in my $2,000 screen so that the wind wouldn’t take it away. And then the Airplane comes on and the sun comes up. [A light show] can’t compete with that.

Spencer Dryden: Paul [Kantner, guitarist/singer] had said, “Well, if we can’t go on at midnight, we want to go on as the sun comes up.” Unfortunately, the Who were playing and they were in the middle of their set when the sun came up and they didn’t care a whit whether the sun was coming up or not.

Jorma Kaukonen: I wish that I had more significant memories of Woodstock. I didn’t have any grand epiphanies or moments of extreme clarity. But I do remember thinking, this truly is unbelievable. Because it was, just the mass and the feeling of “usness.”

Paul Kantner (guitarist/singer): It was a little harsher than normal but fun, interesting. The edge, dealing with the unexpected. I like that, particularly if you deal with it semi-successfully. We didn’t necessarily deal with being onstage semi-successfully. We were pretty ragged.

Bill Thompson: Paul killed [the band’s appearance in the documentary film]. He thought the performance was bad, because they had taken every fucking drug around them. He was very adamant about it. So we didn’t get in.

Marty Balin: It was a mess for our performance but it was the beginning of what music can do politically and as a force.

Jack Casady (bassist): There were plenty of things wrong with it, but basically Woodstock was a great event that was full of chaos and full of aspects where nobody knew quite what was going to happen next. It became a media phenomenon. It’s not my most favourite performance, by any means. Everybody’s dog tired, out of tune and had been awake for about 24 hours. It wasn’t the optimum time. I guess we played OK.

Spencer Dryden: I don’t remember it being one of our best shows. I do remember [pianist] Nicky Hopkins being on there [sitting in with the band], which was nice, because if anything else, he helped glue the band together. And then I remember that we drove back to the hotel, no more helicopters, and Nicky didn’t have a room so he stayed with me and [Spencer’s wife] Sally. And Nicky is the loudest snorer I ever heard in my life.


Spencer Dryden:
 [After Woodstock], we got back in the cars and we had to go to New York to do The Dick Cavett Show that night. Hendrix was supposed to do it but he couldn’t so Joni Mitchell did it because she couldn’t get to Woodstock, so there was just this big multi-proportional screw-up, logistics gone bad. Joni was very afraid and had stage fright and David Crosby kind of helped calm her down. Nicky Hopkins (guest pianist): I did the [Airplane’sVolunteers album, then they said, “Can you come and do this open-air concert with us in the east? It’ll be about three days.” I sort of liked the idea and I said yeah, I’ll come down. So I went with them and it turned out it was Woodstock. I sat in with them—there was some talk at that point about me joining them, which never happened. Then I did a TV show with them afterwards.

Grace Slick: Woodstock was unique in that there were a half million people not stabbing each other to death. That was its main claim to fame. And it was a statement of, look at us, we’re 25 and we’re all together and things ought to change.

Jorma Kaukonen: I think it would have been hard to overhype Woodstock, just because of what happened there. Woodstock was a significant event.

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This is the only UK album released by US West Coast psychsters The Peanut Butter Conspiracy. ‘The Great Conspiracy’ it was released in the UK in 1967 on the CBS label in mono and stereo. The Peanut Butter Conspiracy was an Los Angeles-based, psychedelic pop/rock group from the 1960s. The band is known for lead singer Barbara Robison and for briefly having Spencer Dryden of Jefferson Airplane as a band member. If you don’t know them just think Jefferson Airplane and you’ll get their direction.

Formed in Los Angeles in August 1966 from the folk rock group “The Ashes”, which included John Merrill (guitar/vocals), Barbara “Sandi” Robison (vocals), Alan Brackett (bass/vocals), Spencer Dryden (drums), and Jim Cherniss (guitar/vocals). The group had earlier been known as The Young Swingers, who released two obscure singles. The Ashes released a first single on the Vault label in February 1966, “Is There Anything I Can Do?”, written by Jackie DeShannon. Dryden left The Ashes (May 1966) to replace Skip Spence in Jefferson Airplane, Robison left (June 1966) to give birth, and the group temporarily disbanded. Alan Brackett hooked up with a new guitarist, Lance Baker Fent, and a new drummer, Jim Voigt, naming the new trio “The Crossing Guards”. Merrill and Robison rejoined and the five-piece band became The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

Brackett  recalls, I got together upon John’s recommendation with Fent and Voigt and, with the help of Owsley, we learned 50 or so songs in one day and went out that night and got our choice of about three gigs in Hollywood. We played at the Sea Witch on Sunset Blvd. as the Crossing Guards. We were a power trio, and then John and Barbara joined back up with us and we changed our name to the PBC. The PBC was a name that Voigt came up with– actually it was the Peanut Butter Controversy originally, but we changed it to Conspiracy.

Hard to find in great condition as a UK original for some reason but worth hunting down.

The Great Conspiracy was the second long-player from the Peanut Butter Conspiracy it was much more a reflection of their live sound than their debut effort, the pop-driven Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading (1967). After solidifying their lineup, they inked a deal with Columbia Records, which assigned staff producer Gary Usher to work with them. His well-meaning but over-the-top production style diffused the band, which came off sounding more like the Mamas & the Papas than the Jefferson Airplane or It’s a Beautiful Day both of whom also sported female lead singers. However, by the time of this release the Conspiracy were sonically asserting themselves with a decidedly hipper approach. This is especially evident on the stretched-out and psychedelic “Too Many Do” and the deliciously trippy “Ecstasy” — which sports frenzied and wiry fretwork similar to that of Quicksilver Messenger Service string man John Cipollina Equally inspired are “Lonely Leaf” and the somewhat paranoid and darkly guilded “Time Is After You.” These contrast with the somewhat ersatz hippie fodder “Turn on a Friend (To the Good Life),” the 38-second throwaway “Invasion of the Poppy People,” or the simply wretched “Captain Sandwich.”

In 2000 the Collectables reissue label coupled both The Peanut Butter Conspiracy Is Spreading and The Great Conspiracy on a single CD. Also included were the 45-rpm sides “I’m a Fool” and “It’s So Hard” as well as the previously unissued track “Peter Pan.”

In June 1967, The Beatles album ‘Sgt. Pepper” had just hit the US and the Summer of Love had barely began when Jefferson Airplane headed from San Francisco to L.A. The year 1967 saw the emergence of an entire new wave of American rock, much of which centered around the San Francisco scene of bands like Moby Grape, Country Joe and the Fish, The Grateful Dead and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. And within this cohort, no group showed more promise, exerted more influence or found more early success than Jefferson Airplane.

They’d spend the next four months recording ‘After Bathing at Baxter’s” It was their third album with the classic lineup. Following the smash success of the debut ‘Surrealistic Pillow” fired by two unexpected AM radio hits (“Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit” they had a surprisingly big budget and creative carte blanche from their major label, RCA Records. 

They also had a radical plan: to move past the poppy folk-rock that had been the Airplane’s stock-in-trade since the band’s first version formed in 1965.

Airplane, signed to RCA, started the year with a record already under its belt, 1966’s Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Its gently twisted folk-rock had received decent reviews but hadn’t sold much of anything. That wouldn’t hold true for Surrealistic Pillow, the group’s second album

To start with, that meant beefing up the studio sound to match the group’s live shows. As in, Jack Casady’s bass had little heft on ‘Pillow’—not at all the fat-toned omnipresent rumble my teen self witnessed at the Café Au Go Go in spring 1967.

Besides, the group’s dynamics and ambitions were rapidly evolving. Internal frictions were pivoting them in directions heavier sounds, art-rock song forms, looser vocal interplay that would define the Airplane going forward.

On ‘Baxter’s’, the creative and personal tensions that would undermine Jefferson Airplane’s cohesion over the next three years found powerful artistic balance. Despite period-piece flaws an overlong jam, some hippie-dippy lyrics it is arguably the most daring and accomplished album this trail-blazing band ever made.

When the Airplane cut ‘Baxter’s’, the San Francisco counterculture they were such an integral part of was peaking though nobody at the time knew it. The album’s dazzling array of song structures unusual, eccentric, oblique distills and reflects that scene’s trust and hope in the joys of experimentation. It sought to embody the shared feeling that the world was open to question and on the cusp of change.

As was the Jefferson Airplane itself. Their internal chemistry was deliberately shaken up to yield a sometimes uneasy democracy, where all six members contributed compositions, dialed up new sounds, and pushed at the edges of their talents. It didn’t always work; why would it? But it’s why ‘Baxter’s turns through a marvelous kaleidoscope of sounds, moods, and textures that are darker and denser, more layered and aggressive than anything they’d done to date.

Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen were among the key drivers of the sonic shift. Casady honed his agile, melodic runs, which routinely spilled with jagged finesse across bar lines, while playing R&B with the likes of James Brown; he and Kaukonen had played together since high school. Back then, ironically, Kaukonen played rhythm to Casady’s lead guitar. All those years gave the duo an almost telepathic interaction (Hot Tuna,) that drummer Spencer Dryden, a trained jazz musician with years of experience, prodded and anchored with skilled finesse. They all came to ‘Baxter’s wanting to inject more jamming into the mix a la the Grateful Dead, Cream, and Hendrix.

Grace Slick joined the Airplane just in time to record ‘Surrealistic Pillow’; somewhat ironically, she brought that album’s surprisingly edgy hits with her from her old band, The Great Society. Adept on keyboards, gifted with a supple, richly timbred voice, she was catalytic, strong-minded, and far from a hippie earth mother. On ‘Baxter’s, she was determined to pursue her idiosyncratic composer’s voice and explore her fierce feminist perspective.

Airplane co-founder Paul Kantner, originally a folk singer who idolized Pete Seeger, went to a military high school which helps explain the martial rhythms and feels to many of his songs. Since ‘Pillow’, though, he had started developing his own offbeat song forms and wanted more space for them. That and his shrewd musicality and sense of the times led him to buy into the others’ ideas and redirect the Airplane’s flight plans.

That left co-founder Marty Balin, an ex-folkie with an acute pop sense who, as singer and writer, was at the center of the earlier Airplane. Watching his role diminish on ‘Baxter’s didn’t exactly elate him. But he also knew he owned one of the band’s biggest assets: a fantastically flexible, expressive, and outsized tenor that, whether out front or part of the blend, capped the group’s utterly distinctive singing.

In fact, with Balin and Slick, the Airplane had two of rock’s most distinctive and charismatic singers. Their vocal ranges overlapped, though with very different timbres that offered possibilities they soon learned to manipulate and maximize. On ‘Pillow’, Kantner’s baritone anchored their nuanced blends. On ‘Baxter’s’, though, their approach becomes looser and richer, with harmonies unwinding into counterpoint lines and offshoot solo moments; that became another Airplane signature and helped shape subsequent outfits like The Band.

Then there’s the material, ranging from grungy garage rock to cantilevered art rock. At the dawn of classic rock’s golden era, ‘Baxter’s’ surveys the teeming musical landscape and filters it through the Airplane’s hydra-like sensibilities and talents. Sure, there are clunky moments. But they’re far outweighed by the thrilling, at times purposely disorienting probes into new turf.

Still, this early “concept” album has its share of disposable pretension, like grouping tunes into “suites.” Sometimes this makes some sense. The first, “Streetmasse,” gathers the initial three songs, which share a sense of whimsy, assembling “found” materials, and youth perspectives. “The War is Over,” the second “suite,” yokes two quite different Kantner pieces that share themes of connectivity and change. “Schizoforest Love Suite,” the last, contains “Two Heads” and two songs interwoven, so that fits. For the other two, your guess is as good as mine.

“Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil”

By now Jorma Kaukonen has mastered the joys of feedback, and his opening longer and more intense live is a call to arms that starkly contrasts with the sonics and poppier feels of ‘Surrealistic Pillow’; it will be a band staple from now on. Strutting in Kantner’s favored 2/4 sprung rhythms, the lyrics, a la William Burroughs, mash up pieces of A.A. Milne’s kids’ poetry. (Slick thought folk-blues artist Fred Neil, a Kantner pal and model, resembled Winnie the Pooh and dubbed him Pooh-neil.) Its multipart structure is tight and complex; the dynamic and rhythmic contrasts create breathtaking drama between the strut and the hovering chorus. And the finale’s sly harmonies create an open-ended feeling that segues into the next cut.

“A Small Package of Value Will Come to You Shortly”

OK, this collage is definitely period-piece, but it’s also clever dada-style fun: making it ‘Baxter’s second track illuminates why the band originally asked Frank Zappa to produce the record. Dryden, who composed it, was a skilled jazz musician who took a lot of crap from “serious” players for working with these guys, and his uncle happened to be Charlie Chaplin, so maybe comic irony came naturally. That irreverence was as much a part of hippiedom as drugs and courses through ‘Baxter’s—though in Slick’s hands, it can turn more savage.

“Young Girl Sunday Blues”

This brilliant blues-rock piece navigates around almost every blues-rock cliché—no mean feat. Dryden’s preternatural ability to shift accents and mesh with Casady’s fluid, serpentine bass powers the band’s supercharged engine. The inventive craft shaping Airplane charts is evident in how each section’s instrumental colors and interaction morph. The yearning tune and emotive (if druggy) lyrics let Balin unleash his loose, rangy tenor to terrific effect while avoiding standard-issue blues moves. Ironically, it’s also the only song on ‘Baxter’s that Balin, until now the Airplane’s chief composer, penned with Kaukonen. From here on, their mutual antipathy grew.

“Martha”

Ah, the Summer of Love: this paean to Kantner’s then-girlfriend, the runaway teen daughter of Sausalito’s mayor, has its hippie-lyric moments, but also gestures toward the incipient feminism (“She does as she pleases”) that Slick’s pieces deepen and slam home. Structurally, it’s a tour-de-force, playing minor and major keys off each other to yield a Mideastern/modal feel. Its impacted syncopations are punctuated by Casady’s sudden climbs up the neck. The tonal colors rotate and mutate: Casady’s burbling bass against Slick’s breathy snake-charmer recorder, Dryden’s delicate blocks, Kaukonen’s slicing fuzz guitar. Then comes the entropy of the finale’s gradual slowdown, until there is only Kantner’s voice, intoning, evoking, remembering: the bittersweet transition between the preceding and following tunes.

“Wild Tyme”

The track lifts off like a rocket, with a hooky riff delivered by an entwined guitar army crackling with Kaukonen’s barely suppressed feedback. At times the vocals are backdrops for the Kaukonen-Casady-Dryden proto-metal instrumentals; then the mirror flips, in that patented way this band veers away from clichés just when you expect them in order to feed dramatic tension. Kantner’s often eccentric chord progressions, like Ray Davies’, swerve in unique ways that encourage the Airplane’s powerhouse instrumental core, prodded by Casady’s ever-restless rumbling, to dive headlong into openings and teeter enticingly on the edge of chaos.

“The Last Wall of the Castle”

Teetering on the edge of chaos is actually this track’s goal. Here the rough edges running through ‘Baxter’s’ experimental ethos are foregrounded, as the high-octane rhythm section, spearheaded by Casady’s frenetic bass firing off counter-rhythms and filigrees, at once drives and battles with its grooves, creating disruptive tension as it romps hungrily through its varied sections. “The Last Wall of the Castle,” whose tightly-packed, half-spoken lyrics and soul-influenced chords reveal very real connections with the Nuggets-style garage rock then bubbling out of college towns across America. Where a garage band would stick tightly, head down, to the beat and song structure, the Airplane’s rhythm section struggles to break free, pulling the band into a thrilling middle ground between jam and song, the driving rhythm fraying into a heaven of skidding, slicing guitars. The record isn’t precise because the band isn’t going for precision – instead, it’s the sound of a rough democracy in living action.

“Rejoyce”

Grace Slick’s art-rock compositions on ‘Baxter’s’ highlight the dawn of feminism. No hippie earth mother, she wields her assemblage culled from Molly Bloom’s internal monolog in Ulysses—the ur-modernist experimental novel that, like the Pooh stories, was a counterculture fave like an acerbic rapier, slicing openings for women to speak truth to a man’s world. Her music is provocatively eccentric and experimental, anchored by her limber, accomplished piano, too often overlooked as an essential Airplane ingredient. Dryden’s horn chart evokes jazz classics like ‘Sketches of Spain and the ride-out incarnates the feminist pushback lurking beyond men’s glances and desires. It remains one of classic rock’s most powerful, unsettling songs.

“Watch Her Ride”

Sure, this Kantner anthem’s lyrics are shot through with hippie clichés, but they also link up, at least tentatively, with Slick’s feminism: relationships between males and females aren’t about possession, but about the freedom to share hope and risks. But skip, if you prefer, and focus on the densely textured musical layers, far subtler and more finessed.

“Spare Chaynge”

Here’s where the boys who’ll become Hot Tuna get their wish to stretch…and oh yeah, it’s too long and meandering with sporadic jawdropping passages. So try a different angle: listen to it upside-down, focusing on Casady and Dryden. Kaukonen, the feedback maestro and fingerpicking genius, is frankly at his weakest in extended solos like this. Remember that Casady played lead while Kaukonen played rhythm in high school, that Casady plus Dryden create tension and release as casually as breathing in and out, and you’ll find half to two-thirds of this comes interestingly alive, its rawness a sharp contrast with the rest of the album. But it’s still too self-indulgent.

Freedom is also the best word to describe what is arguably Baxter’s definitive track. In an age of overly indulgent jams, the dark, minimal grind of “Spare Chaynge” is astonishing, a bass-heavy excursion that slowly builds to a crescendo of pounding drums and circling guitar. As close to “free rock” as almost anything on record, the jam has a sense of space and style that reflects the band’s ballroom-honed chops. It conjures an aggressive, almost primal minimalism, resembling something from early Can or Hawkwind.

“Two Heads”

The gated percussive shock that opens this Slick piece punches this album’s ambitions about art and feminism home with brooding menace mixed with savage humor. What can you say about a line like, “Wearing your comb like an ax in your head?” The clipped harpsichord is teamed with Casady’s now-surging, now-thumping bottom-end bombs for a disorienting study in contrasts that mates perfectly with the lyrics. Slick’s rich contralto can wail or sneer, while Balin’s ghostly soaring behind her mimics the lyric’s central conceit while reminding us this outfit boasted stronger, more unconventional vocals than almost anyone else around. All that is just part of what makes it timeless.

“Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon”

This phenomenal two-tune mashup—it’s not a medley, really knits together the album’s moods and themes into an uplifting and challenging finale; its sonics, pacing, structure, and execution recap ‘Baxter’s musical journey before releasing listeners back to reality. See, the album wasn’t meant to be a soundtrack for the LSD-laced times; it was meant to embody them in musical form. So this highly wrought composition and chart, with dazzlingly mutating mini-sections that pulsate with mesmerizing tension and release, puts you inside the psychedelic peaks of the San Francisco hippie dream, the gatherings at Golden Gate Park, where the moods were free and easy and hope was abundant and change seemed imminent and palpable. Naïve? Oh, sure. But I still listen to this cut on 11 to find reasons to believe in the future.

RCA was unhappy about how long and complicated the sessions for ‘Baxter’s were. After the gold rush of ‘Surrealistic Pillow’, with two hit singles showcased on prime-time TV shows as well as AM radio, ‘Baxter’s two singles didn’t crack the top 25; the album peaked at 17 and never went gold.

Whatever. ‘Baxter’s set the Airplane’s conceptual template for the next three years. The band, obviously, disagreed with the market. But by 1970, its internal tensions, synthesized on ‘Baxter’s into ear-opening creative leaps, would tear it to pieces.

All around them, too, things were falling apart. The Summer of Love unleashed an overwhelming influx of runaway teens, drug dealers and pimps, and cops on the fragile, insular hippie counterculture’s epicenter. In its wake, the original scene-makers regrouped and dispersed. Baxter’s is, without a doubt, a record of many flaws – its jams can go on too long, its sequencing is uneven, and those oh-so-hip-at-the-time sound collages haven’t aged particularly well. It’s also a remarkably sloppy record; vocals often run askew, full band hits are fudged and the drumming occasionally runs aground. Yet, in a lot of ways, the album is a thrilling listen because – not in spite of these problems.

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With a new singer, Grace Slick, who also happened to bring a pair of classic songs with her (“Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”), Jefferson Airplane’s second album in part defined the Summer of Love. The band was one of the best in San Francisco, whose scene helped shape an entire era. ‘Surrealistic Pillow,’ is a pinnacle of that period.

Surrealistic Pillow was the second album by the American psych rock band, released on February 1st, 1967, by RCA Victor. It is the first album by the band with vocalist Grace Slick and drummer Spencer Dryden

Original drummer Alexander Skip Spence had left the band in mid-1966. He was soon replaced by Dryden, an experienced Los Angeles jazz drummer and the half-nephew of Charlie Chaplin. New female vocalist Slick, formerly with another San Francisco rock band The Great Society , joined the Airplane in the fall of 1966. Slick, Dryden, lead vocalist Marty Balin, guitarist-vocalist-songwriter  Paul Kantner, lead guitarist (and occasional vocalist) Jorma Kaukonen , and bassist Jack Casady formed the core of the best-known line-up of the group, which remained stable until Dryden’s departure in early 1970.

Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick is also known for that powerhouse voice – responsible for classics like  ‘White Rabbit’. At a time when studio production was limited and live concerts were almost always dominated by an incredibly loud band in direct competition with an even louder audience, it made it difficult to fully appreciate voices like Grace Slick’s; but it’s in this isolated vocal track from ‘White Rabbit’ that we’re able to finally concentrate on the star of the song .

The album is considered to be one of the quintessential works of the early psychedelic rock.

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Surrealistic Pillow was the first blockbuster psychedelic album by a band from San Francisco.

From the LP Surrealistic Pillow, is the second album by American rock band Jefferson Airplane, released in February 1967 as RCA Victor 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,

 

Original drummer Alexander “Skip” Spence had left the band in mid-1966, replaced by Los Angeles jazz drummer Spencer Dryden, a nephew of filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. New lead vocalist Grace Slick, formerly with another San Francisco rock band called the Great Society, joined the Airplane in the fall of 1966. Slick, Dryden and guitarist-songwriter Paul Kantner formed the core of the best-known line-up of the group, which would remain stable until Dryden’s departure in early 1970. The album is considered to be one of the quintessential works of the early psychedelic rock and 1960s counterculture