After Bathing At Baxter's

Jefferson Airplane

RCA, 1967

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


The year 1967 has received a great deal of praise from the fraternity of music critics; many see it as the penultimate year in rock and roll. Frankly, it is tough to argue the point with albums such as Sgt. Peppers, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Are You Experienced, and The Who Sell Out floating in the ether. Jefferson Airplane’s breakthrough record, Surrealistic Pillow belongs with those records most assuredly, having charted a path through the psychedelic into pop.

What many tend to forget, is that Jefferson Airplane released more than one album during the year of 67; After Bathing At Baxter’s was released into the wild a mere 9-10 months after. As such, it came to exist under the shadow of “that album with ‘Somebody To Love’ on it.” While the release dates may have shared a close proximity, the records themselves saw two very different incarnations of the band.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Psychedelic music has consistently managed to attract criticism from all corners of the rock world; some would say there is a good reason it died out in the 60s, save for a small handful of bands such as the Dead. At the time however, it represented a fundamentally different change in what was considered experimental. Long instrumental passage were certainly nothing new, but their structure was wholly different, as was the message. How much one enjoyed it was dependant on how willing the person was to accept this bold new vision.

Quite frankly, in this context, weird is good. Weird is interesting. Weird is fascinating. Now, not even yours truly is willing to admit that he ate up every moment of the 9 minute plus of “Spare Chaynge;” an acid-hazed instrumental that flirts with irrelevance. And yes, songs such as “A Small Package Of Value Will Come To You, Shortly” are a waste of vinyl. But hearing the unarguably compelling voice of Grace Slick exclaim that “Inside your mouth the elephants trunk and booze…” well how is that not gripping in it’s own way?

What gets overlooked often with regards to Jefferson Airplane is the fact the first phase of the group was comprised of talented musicians/songwriters. Those elements added a wholly different level of credibility to a group that I am sure was dismissed by the establishment. The twin harmonies of “Martha,” the brilliant, Hendrix-inspired wails that open the album, the definite pop sensibilities of a number like “Wild Tyme,” these snapshots demonstrate just why the group rose to such prominent heights.

There were no smash hits to spring from After Bathing At Baxter’s, but truth be told the album serves better as a glimpse into the era, and psychedelic music. Jefferson Airplane would soon begin to tailspin out of control (No pun intended…well maybe a little), but they will always have 1967 to point to as their contribution to the “Summer of Love.” Not bad company to be surrounded with…


Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2009 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, and is used for informational purposes only.