Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing At Baxter’s – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This RCA pressing was a BIG step up from most copies we played. Most copies we’ve played are too lean down low, which takes a lot of the power out of this crazy psychedelic music. This one gives you more weight down low and good energy, which helps these songs sound the way The Airplane must have intended.

I’m not familiar with the Sundazed pressing, but I would be shocked if it was even in the ballpark with a Super Hot Stamper copy like this one. Is anyone seriously buying their records for sound quality these days?

Jefferson Airplane records are never going to be Demo Discs — their trip wasn’t audio, it was acid. Most copies we’ve played are too lean down low, which takes a lot of power out of this crazy psychedelic music. This one gives you more weight down low and good energy, which helps these songs sound the way The Airplane must have intended.

This vintage RCA pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1967
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on After Bathing At Baxter’s

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Streetmasse:
The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil
A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly
Young Girl Sunday Blues
The War Is Over:
Martha
Wild Tyme (H)
Hymn to an Older Generation:
The Last Wall of the Castle
Rejoyce

Side Two

How Suite It Is:
Watch Her Ride
Spare Chaynge
Schizoforest Love Suite:
Two Heads
Won’t You Try / Saturday Afternoon

AMG  Review

After Bathing at Baxter’s was among the purest of rock’s psychedelic albums, offering few concessions to popular taste and none to the needs of AM radio, which made it nowhere remotely as successful as its predecessor, but it was also a lot more daring. The album also showed a band in a state of ferment, as singer/guitarist Marty Balin largely surrendered much of his creative input in the band he’d founded, and let Paul Kantner and Grace Slick dominate the songwriting and singing on all but one cut (“Young Girl Sunday Blues”). The group had found the preceding album a little too perfect, and not fully representative of the musicians or what they were about, and they were determined to do the music their way on Baxter’s… indisputably among the more alluring musical experimentation of the period, and Kantner’s “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil” and “Watch Her Ride,” as well as Balin’s “Young Girl Sunday Blues,” proved that the group could still rock out with a beat, even if not so prettily or cleanly as before.

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