Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Whenever I hear something about the most significant albums of the 1960s, the ones usually mentioned are “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” (Beatles); “Elvis in Memphis” (Elvis Presley); “Pet Sounds” (Beach Boys); and “Johnny Cash at San Quentin.”

Yet one group that never seems to be on such a list is Jefferson Airplane, though always a favorite of mine.

When I got their first LP, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” I knew they were something special but they didn't get noticed much outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

Next came the million-selling album, “Surrealistic Pillow,” and with it worldwide fame.

Would you agree that “Surrealistic Pillow” belongs on the “best of the '60s” list?

Finally, why did they eliminate “Runnin' 'Round This World” from “Takes Off”? I find nothing objectionable about the song, so what's the problem? Perhaps some conflict about rights or ownership?
—Jean Fulmer, Lebanon, Pa.

DEAR JEAN: I would definitely include “Surrealistic Pillow” among the 20 most significant albums of that decade.

Interestingly, both “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Surrealistic Pillow” held positions in the nation's Top 5 at the same time (July 1967) — and both are revered as soundtracks for the hippy generation in the midst of the Summer of Love.

Occupying the other three slots then is quite a diverse mixture of artists and styles: “Headquarters” (Monkees); “Sounds Like” (Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass); and “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” (Aretha Franklin).

It may seem silly now, but 40 years ago the media and record company decision-makers detested any references to being “high” that didn't explicitly involve aircraft or mountain climbing gear.

Remember when the Ed Sullivan Show booked Jim Morrison and the Doors to perform their hit “Light My Fire,” but Ed forbid him to include the lyrics, “girl we couldn't get much higher”?

Naturally, Morrison proceeded to sing all of the offending lines, but being a live broadcast there was nothing the producers could do but fume — which they did.

The mention of which reminds me to include “The Doors” (their first album) among the '60s most significant albums.

With “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” censorship went to an extreme because, unlike a Top 40 hit frequently played on the radio, “Runnin' 'Round This World” was at that time merely an LP track.

Regardless, the critics squawked about the innocuous line “the nights I've spent with you have been fantastic trips.”

In this case, the objection seems misplaced, as this “trip” seems more passionate than hallucinogenic.

Since first pressings sold out quickly, RCA needed more product and used the opportunity to dump “Runnin' 'Round This World.”

The sanitizing didn't stop there, as subsequent pressings of “Take Off” also contain “less-offensive” versions of “Let Me In” and “Run Around.”

DEAR JERRY: I have a musical earworm which no one I know can identify. Let's hope you can.

The lines involve digging a hole and jumping in it.

Not much to go on, but it is by a man and was popular at the same time as Bobby Darin's “Lazy River.”
—Tammy Rowe, Chicago

DEAR TAMMY: Not much, but just enough.

Your earworm is from “You Can Have Her,” a Top 15 hit for Roy Hamilton in early 1961 (Epic 9434).

Specifically, Roy suggests “If you get the wrong woman, there's only one thing that you can do. Just dig a hole and jump right in it, and pull the ground right over you.”

All in all, this seems like a messy alternative to simply finding another woman.

IZ ZAT SO? First issues of “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off” (RCA Victor LPM-3584) with 12 tracks, one of which is “Runnin' 'Round This World,” have recently been selling for $400 to $500.

Later issues, with just 11 tracks and the alternative takes of “Let Me In” and “Run Around,” fetch about one-tenth that amount.

It seems the 12-track edition can only be found in the monaural format. All known stereo copies (LSP-3584) are of the 11-track variety.

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