(Ed. note: Almost exactly a year ago, as a big Jefferson Airplane fan, I blogged about Grace Slick’s awesomeness. — MJWS)
|The original Jefferson Airplane|
Recently, I’ve taken to writing about my own music collection just for the hell of it, and maybe finding a YouTube clip in support.
Last week it was The Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. This week I found Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, which was the first album by the group, released in September 1966. After this one came out, the female singer, Signe Toly Anderson, left the group to be replaced by Grace Slick, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This first album is undoubtedly more of a folk-rock thing rather than the harder edged psychedelic style for which the group later become famous with Slick on lead vocals.
Full listing of personnel for Jefferson Airplane Takes Off is:
Jack Casady: bass
Skip Spence: drums
Spencer Dryden: drums
Marty Balin, who founded Jefferson Airplane and had earlier been a part of the folk-revival, was influenced by The Byrds and Simon & Garfunkel and the merging of folk and rock as he got things going with the band. He was even in a folk group once called the Town Criers. Can’t get much folkier than that.
There’s a really interesting version of Dino Valenti‘s “Get Together” on the album, always one of my favourite folk-rock songs. The album also contains John Loudermilk’s “Tobacco Road,” certainly more in the folk genre.
Other songs, mostly original, are “Blues from an Airplane” (Balin, Spence); “Let Me In” (Balin, Kantner); “Bringing Me Down” (Balin, Kantner); “It’s No Secret” (Balin); “Come Up the Years” (Balin, Kantner); “Run Around” (Balin, Kantner); “Don’t Slip Away” (Balin, Spence); “Chauffeur Blues” (Lester Melrose); and “I Like It” (Balin, Kaukonen).
It’s a nice album, actually, that might provide a sense of bigger things to come for the group. I think it’s easy to hear how the band might have developed in the direction they did with albums like Surrealistic Pillow, their second offering, this time with Grace Slick and songs like “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” You still had Balin, Kaukonen, and Kantner on board, so no great surprise, but the difference is also pronounced.
One of the funnier bits of information I found about the first album had to do with record executives scrubbing lyrics to make them more mainstream:
RCA initially pressed only 15,000 copies, but it sold more than 10,000 in San Francisco alone, prompting the label to reprint it. For the re-pressing, the company deleted “Runnin’ Round This World” (which had appeared on early mono pressings), because executives objected to the word “trip” in the lyrics. For similar reasons, RCA also substituted altered versions for two other tracks: “Let Me In”, changing the line “you shut your door; you know where” to “you shut your door; now it ain’t fair.” In the same song, they also switched the lyric “Don’t tell me you want money” to “Don’t tell me it ain’t funny.” “Run Around” was also edited, changing the line “flowers that sway as you lay under me” to “flowers that sway as you stay here by me”. The original pressings of the LP featuring “Runnin’ ‘Round The World” and the uncensored versions of “Let Me In” and “Run Around” are now worth thousands of dollars on the collectors’ market.
(Cross-posted at Lippmann’s Ghost.)