After Bathing at Baxter's
The Music Box's #7 specialty package for 2003
First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2003, Volume 10, #9
Written by John Metzger
After the massive success of Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane made a conscious decision to turn its follow-up outing into a decidedly non-commercial effort, and much to the bandís liking, the album was embraced more by the counterculture than it was the mainstream. Allowed to roam relatively unimpeded within the recording studio, the group crafted After Bathing at Baxterís, an experimental conceptual piece that explored the psychedelic experience. With songs lumped together into mini-suites, a bizarre aural collage called A Small Package of Value Will Come to You..., screaming guitars, lengthy jams, a few beautiful moments, a few raggedly raucous ones, and a bit of intellectualism in the form of an odd adaptation of James Joyce, Jefferson Airplane made an album as weirdly disconnected, yet fully intertwined as the freakiest acid trip that one could ever take.
On the whole, After Bathing at Baxterís was too strange to be remembered by most. On the surface, it also didnít match the flawlessness of Surrealistic Pillow, but, then again, it was never meant to do that for this was something completely different. Indeed, Surrealistic Pillow gathered together the tribe, while After Bathing at Baxterís gave the masses its marching orders. Over the years, the importance of the album has been overlooked far too frequently, but the fact of the matter is that it did play a huge role in defining the Bay-area music scene as well as in influencing the Grateful Deadís future excursions on Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa. One listen to Martha ó a tender folk-rock tune, glazed by the hazy candlelit phosphorescence of guitar and percussion ó and one can hear the seeds that sprouted a thousand times over within the strains of the Grateful Deadís Dark Star. Elsewhere, Jefferson Airplane rampaged through The Last Wall of the Castle, soared majestically over the operatic strains Rejoyce, and on The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil, the band charged full-bore out of the starting gate, riding the stinging electric guitar buzz through the songís dynamic changes, which rise and fall like the turbulent waves of the California surf. The latter song is also featured as a bonus track on the new release, where itís given a monumental eleven-minute workout.
After Bathing at Baxter's is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Jeff Tamarkin's biography Got a Revolution! The Turbulent Flight of
Jefferson Airplane is available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box