Surrealistic Pillow

Jefferson Airplane

RCA Records, 1967

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Nineteen sixty-seven was a pretty big year for rock, if not the biggest. The Summer of Love became one of the defining moments of the decade, and some of the most famous albums of all time saw their release during the course of those 12 months. One of those records was Surrealistic Pillow.

Jefferson Airplane has a reputation for being “out there,” so imagine my surprise upon listening to Surrealistic Pillow my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 for the first time, and hearing just as much folk/rock as psychedelic music. For those who know of the band based solely off reputation and hearsay, you might just be caught completely off guard.

Of course, back in the day, this music seemed much more progressive and experimental than it is today. I always find it ironic how a band like Jefferson Airplane, or The Doors were looked upon as radicals back in the day, but are now seen as “golden oldies.” To a point, that “weakens” the impact Surrealistic Pillow has, but not by much.

Everybody knows “Somebody To Love,” and “White Rabbit;” these tracks still get major airplay today, and have featured in countless movies, TV shows, and commercials. Hell, “White Rabbit” has practically become the stock score for any medium that has a drug montage. When placed in their context, these songs stand out as the classics they are. The former is a legitimate rocker with an incredibly infectious refrain, while the latter is of course one of the defining songs of the psychedelic era.

But, as is the case with all the great albums, there is so much more than the hits. “Embryonic Journey” is a simply gorgeous acoustic piece, very reminiscent of what Jimmy Page would later perform with “Bron-Yr-Aur” “My Best Friend” captures the band at the peak of their vocal prowess; the harmonies are exquisite. Finally, “Plastic Fantastic Lover” closes things out as a stomping, blues rocker. There is little doubt after listening through Surrealistic Pillow that these guys could legitimately “rock.”

As an introduction to the Airplane, …Pillow works quite well. It has their all time biggest hits, and is not terribly psychedelic in nature. This route would continue onto their follow up record After Bathing At Baxter’s, but the experimentation would shows signs of life on that record as well. One of the great records of ’67? No doubt.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.