What we’re listening to (#8): Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane

Released in 1967, Surrealistic Pillow was Jefferson Airplane’s second album.

Overall the sound is the classic psychedelic rock that had just come to the forefront at the time. Noted as the the first album recorded with new vocalist Grace Slick and new jazz drummer Spencer Dryden, Surrealistic Pillow contains two of the most recognisable tracks recorded by Jefferson Airplane; ‘Somebody to Love’ and ‘White Rabbit’.

White Rabbit especially captures the new sounds of the psychedelic era with its haunting bass riff, eerie guitar lines and references to drugs and the surrealist aspect of the book Alice in Wonderland. Somebody to Love however is a more classic rock song with a more recognisable chorus and guitar sounds, though it is still infused by the psychedelic genre.

Other stand out tracks of the album include ‘3/5 of a Mile in Ten Seconds’ in which we see the enormously talented blues guitar of Jorma Kaukonen – the track is of the same ilk as Somebody to Love and is a fast paced Rock ‘n’ Roll song. ‘Embryonic Journey’ also stands out due to its folk influences as seen by its finger picking guitar.

As an album Surrealistic Pillow encapsulates the so-called “late 60’s San Francisco hippy” scene. Jefferson Airplane made no secret that much of their experimentation was induced by the use of hallucinogenics, and this gave a sense of escapism to a society embroiled in the bloody Vietnam War.

This article was written by Sam Brunt


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