And this is where the music love ended. A month ago, I had Santana's debut, CSNY's Deja Vu, and then this album on my Spotify playlist. After grooving along with the first two albums, Jefferson Airplane jolted my enjoyment. I found myself constantly rolling my eyes during Surrealistic Pillow because of how cheesy-folk it sounded to me. That impression now dominates my feelings on Surrealistic Pillow; I don't like it because it seems too poppy folk and...lame.
So, this album has been an ignored collection of songs at the end of my “Current Rolling Stone Albums” playlist on Spotify. “Oh, it's Jefferson Airplane, I need to go back to the top of the playlist for Santana again.” Now that I've finally posted reviews of the three previous albums on that playlist, I am only focusing on Surrealist Pillow. With this new spotlight on the album, I decided to read up on some reviews to see what it is about the album that I had been missing with my cold listens. It seems the album is praised as bringing psychedelic folk-pop to the mainstream and that it was “groundbreaking.” I am absolutely willing to vouch that this album has enough pop sheen on it to sell records. Maybe I just gotta chalk my feelings on this album along with my general disinterest in late 60's folk of The Mamas & Papas, The Byrds, et al. CSN(Y) have been able to separate themselves from their contemporaries thanks to my listening to the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums list, but Jefferson Airplane isn't going to distinguish themselves with this album other than the breadth of styles is certainly wider on this album than I recall from their peers.
You get plenty of folk harmonies with acoustic guitars, you have the two popular rockers with Grace on vocals, there's an instrumental, and then there's whatever comedic folk thing “Plastic Fantastic Lover” is. I look at the list of songs I liked and now like below and liking 6 of 11 songs is pretty good. But when there are 3 songs I just plain want to skip over, it seems to pull the whole album down for me. I rather enjoy listening to just those 6 songs better than I do the full 11.
Songs I Knew I Liked: “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit”
Songs I Now Like: “Today,” “D.C.B.A.-25,” “How Do You Feel,” and “Embryonic Journey”
Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: “My Best Friend,” “Comin' Back to Me” (epic folk song about Hobbits in love, I think), and “Plastic Fantastic Lover”