Volunteers: Jefferson Airplane
  • Volunteers: Jefferson Airplane
  • Volunteers: Jefferson Airplane

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Condition: Sleeve: Shows wear Media: Very Good

Volunteers is the fifth studio album by American psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane, released in 1969 as RCA Victor LSP-4238 and in quadrophonic sound in 1973 as RCA Quadradisc APD1-0320. The album was controversial because of its revolutionary and anti-war lyrics along with the use of profanity. The original album title was Volunteers of Amerika, but it was shortened after objections from Volunteers of America.

Volunteers was the group's first album recorded entirely in San Francisco, at Wally Heider's state-of-the-art 16-track studio. Guest musicians included Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar, veteran session pianist Nicky Hopkins, future Airplane drummer Joey Covington on percussion, David Crosby and Stephen Stills. The album was among the earliest 16-track recordings, and its back cover shows a picture of the Ampex MM-1000 professional 16-track tape recorder used to record the album.

The album was marked with strong anti-war and pro-anarchism songs. The theme of nature, communities and ecology was also explored with the songs "The Farm" and "Eskimo Blue Day". The title was inspired by a Volunteers of America (a religious charity similar to the Salvation Army) garbage truck that woke singer Marty Balin one morning. The original title was Volunteers of Amerika; spelling "America" as "Amerika" was a common practice used by leftists at the time to emphasize their dissatisfaction with the American government, as it usually references both German fascism and the Kafka novel Amerika. After Volunteers of America objected, the title was shortened to Volunteers.[8]

The album provoked even more controversy with lyrics such as "Up against the wall, motherfucker," which appeared in the opening song, "We Can Be Together". The offending word was mixed lower on the 45 RPM release of that track to partially obscure it, but it was still audible. However, the word "motherfucker" was censored on the album lyric sheet as "fred".[9] RCA Records had refused to allow the word "fuck" on the album until confronted with the fact that the label had already set a precedent on the Hair cast recording album. "Eskimo Blue Day" was also a point of contention, with its chorus line of "doesn't mean shit to a tree" repeated throughout.

The album is characterized by Jorma Kaukonen's lead guitar parts (the dueling solos on "Hey Fredrick", plus the traditional gospel-blues song "Good Shepherd" and "Wooden Ships") and Hopkins' distinctive piano playing. It also featured the band experimenting with a country-rock sound, particularly on "The Farm" and "Song for All Seasons".

Despite its controversies, the album was a commercial success. It peaked at #13 (becoming the band's fourth Top 20 record) on the Billboard album chart album chart and received a RIAA gold certification within two months of its release.[10]

This was to be the last album with the group for both Jefferson Airplane founder Marty Balin and drummer Spencer Dryden (although they did both appear on the "Mexico" single released in 1970 and its B-side "Have You Seen the Saucers?") and thus signifies the end of the best-remembered "classic" lineup. It was to be the group's last all-new LP for two years; Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen would now devote more of their energy to their embryonic blues group Hot Tuna, while Paul Kantner and Grace Slick released Blows Against the Empire and Sunfighter with various guest musicians and celebrated the birth of their daughter China in 1971.

Though the album was released in late 1969, the cover photo dates back to 1967; it features the band wearing disguises and was taken during the filming of a promotional film made for the "Martha" single.

A specially remixed quadraphonic (four-channel) version of the album was released in 1973 as a vinyl disc using the discrete JVC/RCA CD-4/Quadradisc system, as well as in reel-to-reel and 8-track cartridge tape formats. The quadraphonic mixes are noticeably different from the usual stereo mixes; "Hey Fredrick" has a completely different lead vocal along with different guitar lines and coda, "Volunteers" is a totally different recording, Kaukonen's guitar lines are different on "We Can Be Together", "Wooden Ships" lacks the opening sailboat sound effects and the backing vocals by Ace of Cups on "The Farm" are more prominent. A few tracks from the quadraphonic version were included in the triple-CD box set Jefferson Airplane Loves You, though the CD format's technical limitations necessitated reducing the four-channel recordings to two channels.

The 2004 CD re-release features five additional bonus tracks from the group's annual Thanksgiving concert at the Fillmore East, New York in 1969.

Though the album was released in late 1969, the cover photo dates back to 1967; it features the band wearing disguises and was taken during the filming of a promotional film made for the "Martha" single.

A specially remixed quadraphonic (four-channel) version of the album was released in 1973 as a vinyl disc using the discrete JVC/RCA CD-4/Quadradisc system, as well as in reel-to-reel and 8-track cartridge tape formats. The quadraphonic mixes are noticeably different from the usual stereo mixes; "Hey Fredrick" has a completely different lead vocal along with different guitar lines and coda, "Volunteers" is a totally different recording, Kaukonen's guitar lines are different on "We Can Be Together", "Wooden Ships" lacks the opening sailboat sound effects and the backing vocals by Ace of Cups on "The Farm" are more prominent. A few tracks from the quadraphonic version were included in the triple-CD box set Jefferson Airplane Loves You, though the CD format's technical limitations necessitated reducing the four-channel recordings to two channels.

The 2004 CD re-release features five additional bonus tracks from the group's annual Thanksgiving concert at the Fillmore East, New York in 1969.

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