Surrealistic Pillow

Surrealistic Pillow

Jefferson Airplane (1967)

Unlike the trippy but conceptually strong Sgt. Pepper, the extremely famous Haight-Ashbury scene in San Francisco could, more or less, be attributed to drug use, idealism and free love. Not that that’s a bad thing! The movement even gained some political traction in California for a couple months before collapsing under the weight of all the heinous stuff going on in the background of 60s culture. Fueled in part by LSD, activism and traditional folk music, Jefferson Airplane were the clear standout of this communal scene. Its more extreme figures focused on an alternative lifestyle, with an emphasis on personal expression, transcendence from materialism and general good vibes. These individuals also represented the cultural hub of young, “turned-on” people who kept rock and roll a mysterious, rebellious force. As opposed to the nihilistic bent of the Who, the universal appeal of the Beatles or the direct antagonism of the Rolling Stones, this crowd had more of a flair for passive resistance and proactive dissent.

The rapid dissolution of the band after this release reflected the short life of the scene, yet Surrealistic Pillow encapsulates most of its indulgent, sleepy charms. Occasional lead singer Grace Slick lends her awesome talents to the two most popular tracks, including hit single and 60s staple “Somebody To Love”. The ridiculously anthemic ending of album highlight “White Rabbit” is the closest I’ve come to being convinced to try drugs (read: not that convinced). It’s far from a perfect record, but it’s an important historical document and a pleasant listen.

Key track: “How Do You Feel”

See also: If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears – the Mamas And the Papas (1966)

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