|Official Release Date||Oct 18, 2005|
- Manufacturer: Sundazed Records ( SUN )
track listing1. The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil2. A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly3. Young Girl Sunday Blues4. Martha5. Wild Tyme6. The Last Wall of the Castle7. Rejoyce8. Watch Her Ride9. Spare Chaynge10. Two Heads11. Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
descriptionThe Jefferson Airplane opened 1967 with Surrealistic Pillow and closed it with After Bathing at Baxter's, and what a difference ten months made. Bookending the year that psychedelia emerged in full bloom as a freestanding musical form, After Bathing at Baxter's was among the purest of rock's psychedelic albums, offering few concessions to popular taste and none to the needs of AM radio, which made it nowhere remotely as successful as its predecessor, but it was also a lot more daring. The album also showed a band in a state of ferment, as singer/guitarist Marty Balin largely surrendered much of his creative input in the band he'd founded, and let Paul Kantner and Grace Slick dominate the songwriting and singing on all but one cut ("Young Girl Sunday Blues"). The group had found the preceding album a little too perfect, and not fully representative of the musicians or what they were about, and they were determined to do the music their way on Baxter's; additionally, they'd begun to see how far they could take music (and music could take them) in concert, in terms of capturing variant states of consciousness. Essentially, After Bathing at Baxter's was the group's attempt to create music that captured what the psychedelic experience sounded and felt like to them from the inside; on a psychic level, it was an introverted exercise in music-making and a complete reversal of the extroverted experience in putting together Surrealistic Pillow. Toward that end, they were working "without a net," for although Al Schmitt was the nominal producer, he gave the group the freedom to indulge in any experimentation they chose to attempt, effectively letting them produce themselves. They'd earned the privilege, after two huge hit singles and the Top Five success of the prior album, all of which had constituted RCA's first serious new rock success (and the label's first venture to the music's cutting edge) since Elvis Presley left the Army. The resulting record was startlingly different from their two prior LPs; there were still folk and blues elements present in the music, but these were mostly transmuted into something very far from what any folksinger or bluesman might recognize. Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, and Jack Casady cranked up their instruments; Spencer Dryden hauled out an array of percussive devices that was at least twice as broad as anything used on the previous album; and everybody ignored the length of what they were writing and recording, or how well they sang, or how cleanly their voices meshed. The group emerged four months later with one of the rawest, most in-your-face records to come out of the psychedelic era, and also a maddeningly uneven record, exciting and challenging in long stretches, yet elsewhere very close to stultifyingly boring, delightful in its most fulfilling moments (which were many), but almost deliberately frustrating in its digressions, and amid all of that, very often beautiful. The album's 11 songs formed five loosely constructed "suites," and it didn't ease listeners into those structures. Opening "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" (a Kantner-authored tribute to Fred Neil) amid a cascading wash of feedback leading to a slashing guitar figure, the band's three singers struggle to meld their voices and keep up. A softer, almost folk-like interlude, highlighted by Slick's upper-register keening, breaks up the beat until the guitar, bass, and drums crash back in, with a bit of piano embellishment. Then listeners get to the real break, an almost subdued interlude on the guitars, and a return to the song at a more frenzied pitch, the guitar part dividing and evolving into ever more brittle components until a crescendo and more feedback leads to "A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly." This brilliantly comical and clever percussion showcase co-authored by Spencer Dryden and the band's manager, Bill Thompson, is a million miles beyond any drummer's featured number in any popular band of
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