Coming together in the fervent folk scene of San Francisco, Marty Balin (vocals), Signe Toly Anderson (vocals), Paul Kantner (guitar) and Jorma Kaukonen (guitar) played their first shows as the Jefferson Airplane in 1965. As their performance chops developed, they continued to fine tune the band, adding Jack Casady (bass) and Skip Spence (drums). This lineup quickly built a loyal following around town, aided in no small part by San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason's glowing reviews of their live sets. By December of that year, they had signed to RCA Records for a then-huge $25,000 advance and began recording their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.
Because the group had not performed outside of their hometown, RCA pressed a relatively modest 15,000 copies in mono to launch the album in September 1966. Such was their popularity in the Bay area that 10,000 albums were sold in San Francisco alone, requiring the label to repress in larger quantities. However, the label executives had already expressed displeasure with some of the album's song lyrics. Balin and Kantner's "Runnin' 'Round This World" contained the line "the nights I've spent with you have been fantastic trips" which the label belated interpreted as a drug reference. Furthermore, they bristled at the lines "you shut your door, you know where" and "don't tell me you want money" in "Let Me In" and also took issue with the lyric "flowers that sway as you lay under me" from "Run Around." Asserting its clout, RCA deleted "Runnin' 'Round This World" and had the group record alternate lyric lines for "Let Me In" and "Run Around" for subsequent pressings of the album. As any collector would rightly assume, this made original mono editions with "Runnin' 'Round This World" and the uncensored versions of "Let Me In" and "Run Around" highly sought-after artifacts.
Setting aside the controversy, the album is a brilliant folk rock document, largely written by the group members themselves. Well-chosen covers include John D. Loudermilk's "Tobacco Road" and Dino Valenti's "Let's Get Together," recorded years before it became a hit for the Younbgbloods under the title "Get Together." Balin and Anderson's vocals blend seamlessly and Kaukonen, Kantner and Casady acquit themselves admirably. Only Skip Spence, who was really a singer-guitarist and not a drummer, needed backup in the studio. That assistance came from session drummer Spencer Dryden, who would soon join the group upon Spence's departure. Of course, Spence subsequently formed Moby Grape, giving his departure a truly happy ending. Anderson also announced that she was leaving the group after giving birth to her first daughter in May 1966. Luckily, the band had only to look to their frequent opening act, The Great Society, for a new female vocalist but that is a story for another album. The next one, in fact.
After years of being a high-dollar, hard-to-find collectible, Sundazed comes to the consumer's rescue with this exact reissue of the ORIGINAL, UNCENSORED MONO EDITION of Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Sourced from the RCA analog mono masters, pressed on 180-gram vinyl and packaged in a faithful recreation of the album artwork, you can now own the inaugural flight of this legendary band for the first time in nearly four decades!