After Bathing at Baxter's

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After Bathing at Baxter's
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 27, 1967
Recorded26 June – 31 October 1967
StudioRCA Victor (Hollywood)
Length43:38 (original)
67:53 (2003 reissue)
LabelRCA Victor
ProducerAl Schmitt
Jefferson Airplane chronology
Surrealistic Pillow
After Bathing at Baxter's
Crown of Creation
Singles from After Bathing at Baxter's
  1. "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil"
    Released: August 1967
  2. "Watch Her Ride"
    Released: December 1967[3]

After Bathing at Baxter's is the third studio album by the San Francisco psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, released in 1967 as RCA Victor LSO-1511 (stereo) and LOP-1511 (mono). The cover art is by artist Ron Cobb.


Writing for the Airplane's third album began in the spring of 1967, just as the group's star began to soar with the top 5 success of "Somebody to Love" and its parent album, Surrealistic Pillow. The group appeared regularly on TV to promote the record and demand for its live appearances soared; by summer the group had become the highest-paid American live act, playing a hectic schedule of shows around North America including a lauded appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival that June.[4]


Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen had worked up a cover of a traditional blues on stage, provisionally titled "Jorma's Blues", which was subsequently recorded at RCA on March 7 as "Come Back Baby". Despite being a regular in the group's set list, it would not see release on record until its appearance on Hot Tuna's sophomore effort First Pull Up, Then Pull Down in 1971. Three more new songs made their live debut in May: Kantner's "Won't You Try" (his glowing tribute to the Human Be-In that January) and "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" (an ode to LSD with several lines taken from the A.A. Milne poem "Spring Morning") plus "Young Girl Sunday Blues", co-written with Marty Balin. "Pooneil", "Young Girl Sunday Blues", and another new Kantner composition, "Martha", were first recorded at RCA in late May; "Martha" was a folk-inspired song with Slick on recorder about Martha Wax, the daughter of the mayor of Sausalito who had run away from home and befriended the band.[5]

These early sessions were scrapped, however, after the group heard the new Beatles album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which encouraged them to go in an even further experimental direction. After the success of Surrealistic Pillow RCA was willing to let them do whatever they wanted in the studio, with new producer Al Schmitt lending a more sympathetic ear to their experimentation.[6] Kaukonen and Casady were also inspired to take the group's music in a heavier direction after hearing Hendrix and Cream, with Kaukonen applying more fuzz, feedback, and distortion to his guitar sound.[7]

The band held an unannounced live show in mid-June to record songs meant for the album; an expansive 11-minute version of "Pooneil" was taped and further overdubbed in the studio but ultimately rejected for release, later appearing on the Jefferson Airplane Loves You box set. However, a version of "Young Girl Sunday Blues" from the show did make the new album after further overdubs.[8] "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil" was attempted for a third time on June 26 and 27, where a succinct four-and-a-half-minute version was finally captured along with a new Slick composition, the stream-of-consciousness psychedelia of "Two Heads", recorded directly after. These two tracks were released as the group's next single in August, although their dense, uncommercial sound proved a commercial disappointment, reaching #42 on the Billboard chart (although "Pooneil" performed considerably better on Cash Box, where it peaked at #24).

Recording for the album continued throughout the summer, stretching over five months into the fall. The group rented a mansion with a pool and underwater shooting range in Beverly Hills while recording at RCA, where wild, drug-fueled partying ensued.[6] Members of The Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, The Monkees and The Byrds would often drop by, and Kaukonen even brought a motorcycle into the recording studio one night. Marty Balin began to withdraw from the group, reporting disgust at the self-indulgent behavior and "star trips" he thought his band mates now exhibited, where "everybody was in their little shell."[8] He wrote and recorded two more songs for the album, the soft ballad "Things Are Better in the East" (a bonus track on the CD reissue) and the funky "Don't Let Me Down" (later included on the box set), but neither made the final cut, leaving "Young Girl Sunday Blues" his sole credit on the album after having contributed five songs to Surrealistic Pillow.

Kantner filled the songwriting void in Balin's increasing absence; new versions of "Martha" and "Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon" were recorded that fall along with his "Wild Tyme" and "Watch Her Ride", both intense acid-rock numbers celebrating the freewheeling hippie lifestyle. Spencer Dryden contributed the Zappa-inspired lysergic sound collage "A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly" (featuring nonsensical vocal improvs from manager Bill Thompson and band friend Gary Blackman) while Kaukonen wrote "The Last Wall of the Castle", a showcase for his brittle fuzz guitar work. Grace Slick contributed a second composition, the jazz-inflected "Rejoyce", with free-form lyrics that referenced James Joyce's Ulysses and the Vietnam War over a complex arrangement that included piano, harpsichord, horns, and recorder.[9] Finally, Kaukonen, Casady, and Dryden came up with "Spare Chaynge", meant to represent the Airplane's jam-oriented live improvisations, its 9 minutes pruned from a massive 24-minute take taped on Halloween. The album ultimately cost over $80,000 to record, ten times that of Surrealistic Pillow.[10]

Title and artwork[edit]

The album's title was derived from a poem written by the band's friend Gary Blackman. Kantner explained that the title translates to "After Taking LSD", "Baxter" being the group's code word for the drug.[11]

The cover art was designed by Ron Cobb, then a political cartoonist for the Los Angeles Free Press.[11] The front cover depicts the band as a World War I-era triplane with the body of a San Francisco townhouse.[12][13] Cannabis plants are shown growing out of the house's flower boxes.[13][14] The artwork is framed with a red bar on the bottom and a blue bar with white stars on the top, signifying the United States flag.[12] The plane, painted in full color, dispenses confetti[14] while flying over a black and white landscape – embodying the white of the flag – with billboards reading messages such as "CONSUME!" and "DRINK IT"[12] as parodies of American consumerism.[15] The illustration continues onto the back cover, revealing a scrapheap followed by a pile of empty beverage cans. A banner attached to the plane displays the album's title.[12] In 2008, Cobb's original painting sold at auction for $24,000.[16]

John Hartford referenced the cover art from After Bathing at Baxter's as the inspiration for his song "Steam Powered Aereo Plane" from his album Aereo-Plain.

The gatefold artwork consists of a handwritten track listing and photographs taken by Alan Pappé of each band member.[17] Author Ken Bielen writes the lack of a group portrait highlights the members' individuality.[12] The inner sleeve features Blackman's poem and drawings by the band and their friends, one of which was almost rejected by RCA on fear it would be misinterpreted as a vagina.[18][nb 1]


The album was released on November 27, 1967. RCA was reportedly not happy when the experimental work only peaked at #17 on Billboard, failing to attain an RIAA gold certification, although it was able to reach #9 on the Cash Box chart. A second single, "Watch Her Ride" backed with "Martha", could only climb to #61 (#37 Cash Box). The band's singles never again crossed the halfway mark in the Hot 100.[20]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Daily VaultA−[22]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[23]
The Great Rock Discography7/10[24]
Music Story[25]
MusicHound Rock2/5[26]
Record Mirror[27]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[28]

Despite its commercial shortcomings, After Bathing at Baxter's received high praise from a number of critics.[29] One of its most positive reviews came from Jann Wenner in the newly founded Rolling Stone magazine, proclaiming that Jefferson Airplane "could be the best rock and roll band in America today" and that the album was "probably the best, considering all the criteria and the exceptions, rock and roll album so far produced by an American group."[30][29] A review in Hit Parader called the album "excellent" and "a good follow-up to Surrealistic Pillow."[31] In a later interview with the same magazine, the Moody Blues' keyboardist Mike Pinder named it one of his favorite albums, along with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles, Younger Than Yesterday by the Byrds, and Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel.[32] Cash Box said that the single "Watch Her Ride" had a "hard rock beat with a backup centering on electrified workouts from lead guitar," "grand imagery" and "fine vocals."[33] Record World called it "one of [Jefferson Airplane's] sinuous, contemporary melodies."[30] Billboard said it has "weird, groovy sounds throughout."[34]

Conversely, Paul Nelson gave a negative review in Hullabaloo magazine, writing: "The Jefferson Airplane never even get off the ground with After Bathing at Baxter's. How a great group like this can go down in flames after two fine albums is a real puzzle."[35] The review prompted a reader to send a letter to the magazine saying that the album was "more important than Mr. Nelson thinks it is" and that it "must be graded on a curve, just as Sgt. Pepper was."[36]

After Bathing at Baxter's did not chart in the United Kingdom,[37] but it nevertheless received attention from several British music journals. Chris Welch of Melody Maker praised the instrumental and vocal work and deemed it the "most consistent album yet" from one of the "most mature of America's West Coast groups".[38] Writing for Beat Instrumental, John Ford felt it was a "slight disappointment" compared to the band's earlier material, although he praised the production and "feel" of the album and concluded, "Airplane have good ideas which will flourish, eventually."[39] Norman Jopling and Peter Jones wrote in Record Mirror that the album was "pretentious" and failed to match "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" or contemporary albums by the Byrds and Country Joe and the Fish.[27]

The album was voted number 352 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums 2nd Edition (1999).

Track listing[edit]

Side one

1."The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil"Paul Kantner4:29
2."A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly"Spencer Dryden, Gary Blackman, Bill Thompson1:39
3."Young Girl Sunday Blues"Marty Balin, Kantner3:33
The War Is Over
5."Wild Tyme (H)"Kantner3:08
Hymn to an Older Generation
6."The Last Wall of the Castle"Jorma Kaukonen2:40
7."Rejoyce" ([n 1])Grace Slick4:01

Side two

How Suite It Is
8."Watch Her Ride"Kantner3:11
9."Spare Chaynge" (instrumental)Jack Casady, Dryden, Kaukonen9:12
Shizoforest Love Suite
10."Two Heads"Slick3:10
11."Won't You Try / Saturday Afternoon"Kantner5:09

2003 CD reissue bonus tracks

12."The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil" (long version from Jefferson Airplane Loves You)Kantner11:04
13."Martha" (single version B-side RCA #9389)Kantner3:26
14."Two Heads" (alternate version)Slick3:15
15."Things Are Better in the East" (demo version)Balin2:31
16."Young Girl Sunday Blues" (instrumental; hidden track)Balin, Kantner3:59


  1. ^ All lower-case information according to album notes.


Jefferson Airplane
  • Grace Slick – piano, organ, recorder, vocals, lead vocals on "rejoyce" and "Two Heads"
  • Marty Balin – rhythm guitar, vocals, lead vocals on "Young Girl Sunday Blues"
  • Paul Kantner – rhythm guitar, vocals, lead vocals on "The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil", "Martha", "Wild Tyme", "Watch Her Ride" and "Won't You Try / Saturday Afternoon"
  • Jorma Kaukonen – lead guitar, sitar, vocals, lead vocals on "The Last Wall of the Castle"
  • Jack Casady – bass
  • Spencer Dryden – drums, percussion, horn arrangement
Additional personnel
  • Gary Blackman – vocals
  • Bill Thompson – vocals


  • Jefferson Airplane – design, notes, song arrangement
  • Al Schmitt – producer
  • Richie Schmitt – engineer
  • Ron Cobb – album cover, artwork
  • The Walking Owls – album title
  • Alan Pappé – photography
  • Recorded at RCA, Hollywood


Chart (1967) Peak
US Billboard 200[40] 17


  1. ^ Tamarkin and Butterworth write the drawing in question was what resembled an exclamation point with an eye at the bottom,[18] while Slick said it was a tracing Kantner made of the bottom of a cupcake.[19]



  1. ^ "Acoustic Guitar Sessions Presents Jorma Kaukonen". Acoustic Guitar. January 8, 2015. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  2. ^ Considine, J.D.; Coleman, Mark; Evans, Paul; McGee, David (1992). "Jefferson Airplane". In DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly (eds.). Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York: Random House. p. 147.
  3. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (1995). The Great Rock Discography. Canongate Press. p. 430. ISBN 9780862415419.
  4. ^ Tamarkin 2003, p. 140-141.
  5. ^ Tamarkin 2003, p. 142-43.
  6. ^ a b Tamarkin, Jeff (2003b). After Bathing at Baxter's (booklet). Jefferson Airplane. RCA Records.
  7. ^ Tamarkin 2003, p. 148.
  8. ^ a b Tamarkin 2003, p. 135.
  9. ^ Slick, Grace (1998). Somebody to Love?. Warner Books.
  10. ^ Tamarkin 2003, p. 154.
  11. ^ a b Tamarkin 2003, p. 155.
  12. ^ a b c d e Bielen 2021, p. 91.
  13. ^ a b Wimpfheimer, Seth (September 2022). "Unsung | The Book of Seth | Jefferson Airplane - After Bathing At Baxter's". Head Heritage. Archived from the original on 3 October 2022. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
  14. ^ a b Kesler, Jenell (21 August 2018). "From The Vault: Jefferson Airplane - "After Bathing At Baxter's" (1967)". It's Psychedelic Baby! Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 November 2022. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
  15. ^ Butterworth 2021, p. 48; Bielen 2021, pp. 90–91; Tamarkin 2003, p. 155.
  16. ^ "A Jefferson Airplane original painting created by artist Ron Cobb for their album jacket "After Bathing at Baxter's," 1967". Bonhams. 16 June 2008. Archived from the original on 18 May 2022. Retrieved 10 December 2022.
  17. ^ Bielen 2021, p. 91; Tamarkin 2003, p. 155.
  18. ^ a b Tamarkin 2003, p. 155; Butterworth 2021, p. 48.
  19. ^ Fong-Torres, Ben (12 November 1970). "Grace Slick With Paul Kantner: The Rolling Stone Interview – Page 2". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  20. ^ Jefferson Airplane biography, Rolling Stone
  21. ^ Eder, Bruce. "After Bathing at Baxter's Review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 7 December 2022. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  22. ^ Clutterbuck, Jeff (23 August 2009). "After Bathing At Baxter's". The Daily Vault. Archived from the original on 23 May 2022. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  23. ^ Larkin 2006, p. 604.
  24. ^ Strong 2004, p. 780.
  25. ^ "After Bathing At Baxter's". Music Story. Archived from the original on 7 December 2009. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  26. ^ Selvin 1999, p. 599.
  27. ^ a b Jopling & Jones 1968, p. 8.
  28. ^ Evans 2004, p. 426.
  29. ^ a b Tamarkin 2003, p. 156.
  30. ^ a b "Single Picks of the Week" (PDF). Record World. December 9, 1967. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-06-09.
  31. ^ Masulli, Delehant & Paulsen 1968, p. 60.
  32. ^ Pinder 1969, p. 58.
  33. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. December 2, 1967. p. 22. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  34. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. December 2, 1968. p. 87. Retrieved 2023-06-09.
  35. ^ Nelson 1968, p. 37.
  36. ^ Magnussen 1968, p. 14.
  37. ^ Butterworth 2021, p. 48.
  38. ^ Welch 1968, p. 12.
  39. ^ Ford 1968, p. 40.
  40. ^ "Jefferson Airplane Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 June 2023.