Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow (Unreleased Quad mix?)

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fredblue

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MFSL released SACDs of Volunteers and Surrealistic Pillow. SP was in monophonic, and Volunteers in stereo. No SACD or DVD-A multi-channels of any of their albums as far as I've heard.

the Volunteers Quad was released in 360RA on Tidal last year, not sure why its not on Apple Music in Dolby Audio already?
 

Q-Eight

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Absolutely! I get it. I mean, if the album came out in 1975, I could see why the quad might not have been released. Quad was kinda fading by then. But the late 60s? That would have been prime time!!!

I think with, in the case of Jefferson Airplane.... by the time the big Quad push was on; they weren't exactly at the top of the charts anymore. Certainly they were one of RCA's top Pop Acts.... It sure is interesting to hear that a Quad mix of another one of their albums was attempted anyway.... Seeing as it's incomplete leads me to wonder. But I love that sort of stuff... the minutia behind everything. It's like the Butterfly Effect.... what seems like a tiny, insignificant decision 50 years later leaves people completely flummoxed.
 

tlake6659

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Strange that Go to Her was mixed in quad since it's not on the original album as well.
 

fredblue

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I think with, in the case of Jefferson Airplane.... by the time the big Quad push was on; they weren't exactly at the top of the charts anymore. Certainly they were one of RCA's top Pop Acts.... It sure is interesting to hear that a Quad mix of another one of their albums was attempted anyway.... Seeing as it's incomplete leads me to wonder. But I love that sort of stuff... the minutia behind everything. It's like the Butterfly Effect.... what seems like a tiny, insignificant decision 50 years later leaves people completely flummoxed.

Steve Hoffman said on his own forum that for as many Quads saw release there were as many again mixed but never released, i don't think he was too wide of the mark
 

steelydave

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First off, nice find @MrSmithers - it seems like trawling through streaming audio sites the last year or two has netted more concrete information about unreleased quad mixes than all of the years of reading trade publications I've done before that combined!

As for why not all of the tracks on this album were mixed in quad, we're only left to guess, but I think the three most likely reasons are:

  1. Technical limitation - this album was recorded on 4 tracks - it's possible that the original recordings were bounced down so many times to get all the overdubs on that there are so many instruments on each track it was impossible to achieve a satisfactory quad mix. Like, for example, let's say all the vocals and guitars are on one track, the bass is on one track, and the drums are on one track, and there are some random overdubs on the 4th track - it's really hard to make an interesting quad mix with combined layouts like that. Look at Peter Mew's aborted quad mix of Sgt. Pepper - we know from the leaked multitracks of those songs how many combined instruments and vocals there are on each of the 4 tracks (and it was impossible to sync the pre-bounce tapes in the pre-digital era) so maybe RCA came to the same conclusion about the multitracks of the missing Surrealistic Pillow tracks.
  2. Missing tapes - this album was recorded in either late 1966 or early 1967, and RCA didn't put out anything in quad until November of 1970. Maybe they went looking for the tapes 2, 3 or almost 4 years after they were recorded, and simply couldn't find them - imagine trying to find anything in a tape vault in the pre-barcode computerised filing system era, especially back then when the "usefulness" of multitracks was considered spent once a final mix was done. Look at quad albums like Jeff Beck's Wired and Earth, Wind & Fire's That's the Way of the World, both of which have an upmixed track on them due to either missing multitracks or some other limitation, and both those quad mixes were done within months of the stereo releases. It almost isn't surprising that one attempted years later couldn't locate tapes.
  3. The mixes were done, but the tape was lost, stolen or mislabelled. Again, entirely possible - the quad master tape box for Paul Revere and the Raiders Hard 'n' Heavy (with marshmallow) clearly states that the two missing tracks are there (with running times and everything) but they aren't - whoever spliced that tape together must've forgotten to put those two songs in, and no one noticed until after the fact. Mistakes happen, sadly.
Why Surrealistic Pillow wasn't released in quad makes a little more sense though, but you have to look at the context of when all their albums were released, and when RCA started releasing albums in quad:

Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (August 1966)
Surrealistic Pillow (February 1967)
After Bathing at Baxter's (December 1967)
Crown of Creation (September 1968)
Volunteers (November 1969)

RCA did their first batch of 50 or so Q8 releases in November 1970, and these included Volunteers (which was also issued as a CD-4 LP in 1973) and The Worst of the Jefferson Airplane which was basically day-and-date with the stereo version of the LP which also came out in November. I think RCA probably felt the Worst Of was a fine enough representation of their early material and that they didn't need to put out the individual albums in quad as well, especially given the limited nature of the early multitracks.

I'm really led to believe the multitrack issue factored into their thinking because of the information provided at the bottom of the Q8 release of Worst Of, which denotes how many tracks the multitrack for each album had:

1656309732488.png


I'm pretty sure I've looked at every other Q8 RCA ever released, and there isn't a single other one that has this kind of notation on it. To me, it suggests that RCA knew that the quality of the mixes were compromised by the number of available tracks, and they put this information out to temper listener expectations. And credit to them, honestly, as anyone who's heard the quad version of Worst Of will tell you, the mixes of the early material are not great, to put it kindly.

I think RCA was probably aware of the risk of oversaturating the market with quad releases as well (and in fact, there's an interview in Billboard with the head of the label from around 1975 where he admits they put too many quad albums out at the start in spite of their best efforts) so they probably figured like two Airplane albums was enough. Even with that, between their own albums and offshoot groups, they ended up being one of RCA's best represented artists in quad: Volunteers, Worst Of and Hot Tuna's self-titled album in November 1970, Bark, Kantner & Slick's Sunfighter, Hot Tuna's First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, and Papa John Creach's self-titled album in 1971, Hot Tuna's Burgers in 1972, Dragon Fly in 1974, Red Octopus and Hot Tuna's Yellow Fever and America's Choice in 1975, and lastly Spitfire in 1976.
 

Q-Eight

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The mixes were done, but the tape was lost, stolen or mislabelled. Again, entirely possible - the quad master tape box for Paul Revere and the Raiders Hard 'n' Heavy (with marshmallow) clearly states that the two missing tracks are there (with running times and everything) but they aren't - whoever spliced that tape together must've forgotten to put those two songs in, and no one noticed until after the fact. Mistakes happen, sadly.

I'd like to put this one to bed. I don't believe the image shown in the booklet of the Dutton-Vocalion SACD release to be the actual Quadraphonic release box. I believe what they are showing us is the STEREO Master Tape Box. There's too many things wrong if it truly were the box housing the Quad tape. #1 - as mentioned, the songs listed are NOT what is on the tape. The actual master as we know it has TWO songs from the album missing, replaced with Two songs; one from the next album "Pink Puzz" and another that is to date, still "unreleased". #2 - the running times are incorrect as many of the songs on the Quad tape run longer OR shorter - these are the approximate stereo release run times and #3 - this box has the STEREO matrix number - XSM 138485 and I suppose #4, the date on the box, somewhat hard to see is 2-19-69. That should just about jive with the March 5, 1969 release I've seen listed on a number of sites and seriously pre-dates the Quad program at CBS.

Compare to the Quad Master box for Indian Reservation two pages later, which also shows Track Layout for Quad reproduction.
 

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fredblue

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Dutton-Vocalion Quad SACD of Surrealistic Pillow with the missing Quad mixes from The Worst of... patched in..... (in my dreams!)

it might well be a possibility, if any label could pull it off its Dutton Vocalion.. they might even be able to remix those tracks not in Quad, as they did for the Raiders SACD!🤞
 

JimM

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I'm really led to believe the multitrack issue factored into their thinking because of the information provided at the bottom of the Q8 release of Worst Of, which denotes how many tracks the multitrack for each album had:

View attachment 80689

I'm pretty sure I've looked at every other Q8 RCA ever released, and there isn't a single other one that has this kind of notation on it. To me, it suggests that RCA knew that the quality of the mixes were compromised by the number of available tracks, and they put this information out to temper listener expectations. And credit to them, honestly, as anyone who's heard the quad version of Worst Of will tell you, the mixes of the early material are not great, to put it kindly.

The multi-track information was also listed for each of the source LPs on the back cover of "The Worst of" stereo album that I purchased somewhere around 1973. If you scroll through the photos at this link, The Worst Of Jefferson Airplane, you can see an example of it.

According to Discogs the multi-track information was also included on the 1970 release of the Stereo 8-Track.
 
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marcb

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First off, nice find @MrSmithers - it seems like trawling through streaming audio sites the last year or two has netted more concrete information about unreleased quad mixes than all of the years of reading trade publications I've done before that combined!

As for why not all of the tracks on this album were mixed in quad, we're only left to guess, but I think the three most likely reasons are:

  1. Technical limitation - this album was recorded on 4 tracks - it's possible that the original recordings were bounced down so many times to get all the overdubs on that there are so many instruments on each track it was impossible to achieve a satisfactory quad mix. Like, for example, let's say all the vocals and guitars are on one track, the bass is on one track, and the drums are on one track, and there are some random overdubs on the 4th track - it's really hard to make an interesting quad mix with combined layouts like that. Look at Peter Mew's aborted quad mix of Sgt. Pepper - we know from the leaked multitracks of those songs how many combined instruments and vocals there are on each of the 4 tracks (and it was impossible to sync the pre-bounce tapes in the pre-digital era) so maybe RCA came to the same conclusion about the multitracks of the missing Surrealistic Pillow tracks.
  2. Missing tapes - this album was recorded in either late 1966 or early 1967, and RCA didn't put out anything in quad until November of 1970. Maybe they went looking for the tapes 2, 3 or almost 4 years after they were recorded, and simply couldn't find them - imagine trying to find anything in a tape vault in the pre-barcode computerised filing system era, especially back then when the "usefulness" of multitracks was considered spent once a final mix was done. Look at quad albums like Jeff Beck's Wired and Earth, Wind & Fire's That's the Way of the World, both of which have an upmixed track on them due to either missing multitracks or some other limitation, and both those quad mixes were done within months of the stereo releases. It almost isn't surprising that one attempted years later couldn't locate tapes.
  3. The mixes were done, but the tape was lost, stolen or mislabelled. Again, entirely possible - the quad master tape box for Paul Revere and the Raiders Hard 'n' Heavy (with marshmallow) clearly states that the two missing tracks are there (with running times and everything) but they aren't - whoever spliced that tape together must've forgotten to put those two songs in, and no one noticed until after the fact. Mistakes happen, sadly.
Why Surrealistic Pillow wasn't released in quad makes a little more sense though, but you have to look at the context of when all their albums were released, and when RCA started releasing albums in quad:

Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (August 1966)
Surrealistic Pillow (February 1967)
After Bathing at Baxter's (December 1967)
Crown of Creation (September 1968)
Volunteers (November 1969)

RCA did their first batch of 50 or so Q8 releases in November 1970, and these included Volunteers (which was also issued as a CD-4 LP in 1973) and The Worst of the Jefferson Airplane which was basically day-and-date with the stereo version of the LP which also came out in November. I think RCA probably felt the Worst Of was a fine enough representation of their early material and that they didn't need to put out the individual albums in quad as well, especially given the limited nature of the early multitracks.

I'm really led to believe the multitrack issue factored into their thinking because of the information provided at the bottom of the Q8 release of Worst Of, which denotes how many tracks the multitrack for each album had:

View attachment 80689

I'm pretty sure I've looked at every other Q8 RCA ever released, and there isn't a single other one that has this kind of notation on it. To me, it suggests that RCA knew that the quality of the mixes were compromised by the number of available tracks, and they put this information out to temper listener expectations. And credit to them, honestly, as anyone who's heard the quad version of Worst Of will tell you, the mixes of the early material are not great, to put it kindly.

I think RCA was probably aware of the risk of oversaturating the market with quad releases as well (and in fact, there's an interview in Billboard with the head of the label from around 1975 where he admits they put too many quad albums out at the start in spite of their best efforts) so they probably figured like two Airplane albums was enough. Even with that, between their own albums and offshoot groups, they ended up being one of RCA's best represented artists in quad: Volunteers, Worst Of and Hot Tuna's self-titled album in November 1970, Bark, Kantner & Slick's Sunfighter, Hot Tuna's First Pull Up, Then Pull Down, and Papa John Creach's self-titled album in 1971, Hot Tuna's Burgers in 1972, Dragon Fly in 1974, Red Octopus and Hot Tuna's Yellow Fever and America's Choice in 1975, and lastly Spitfire in 1976.
One question with #1 is if all they had in 1970 (or whenever) was the final bounced four tracks (and no stems or they were unsynchable) - and the four track multis for those four songs weren’t amenable to a quad mix (which is certainly possible) - why bother with doing a quad mix for the six songs besides the hits which ended up on the Worst Of comp?

There could be a reason(s) for this - I could probably think of some possibilities - but Occam’s Razor would say it doesn’t make sense.
 

fizzywiggs41

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The mixes were done, but the tape was lost, stolen or mislabelled. Again, entirely possible - the quad master tape box for Paul Revere and the Raiders Hard 'n' Heavy (with marshmallow) clearly states that the two missing tracks are there (with running times and everything) but they aren't - whoever spliced that tape together must've forgotten to put those two songs in, and no one noticed until after the fact. Mistakes happen, sadly.

I'd like to put this one to bed. I don't believe the image shown in the booklet of the Dutton-Vocalion SACD release to be the actual Quadraphonic release box. I believe what they are showing us is the STEREO Master Tape Box. There's too many things wrong if it truly were the box housing the Quad tape. #1 - as mentioned, the songs listed are NOT what is on the tape. The actual master as we know it has TWO songs from the album missing, replaced with Two songs; one from the next album "Pink Puzz" and another that is to date, still "unreleased". #2 - the running times are incorrect as many of the songs on the Quad tape run longer OR shorter - these are the approximate stereo release run times and #3 - this box has the STEREO matrix number - XSM 138485 and I suppose #4, the date on the box, somewhat hard to see is 2-19-69. That should just about jive with the March 5, 1969 release I've seen listed on a number of sites and seriously pre-dates the Quad program at CBS.

Compare to the Quad Master box for Indian Reservation two pages later, which also shows Track Layout for Quad reproduction.


I have to agree. I was looking at that Reel box the other day and it sure looks like a stereo box to me .🤔
 

steelydave

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I'd like to put this one to bed. I don't believe the image shown in the booklet of the Dutton-Vocalion SACD release to be the actual Quadraphonic release box. I believe what they are showing us is the STEREO Master Tape Box. There's too many things wrong if it truly were the box housing the Quad tape. #1 - as mentioned, the songs listed are NOT what is on the tape. The actual master as we know it has TWO songs from the album missing, replaced with Two songs; one from the next album "Pink Puzz" and another that is to date, still "unreleased". #2 - the running times are incorrect as many of the songs on the Quad tape run longer OR shorter - these are the approximate stereo release run times and #3 - this box has the STEREO matrix number - XSM 138485 and I suppose #4, the date on the box, somewhat hard to see is 2-19-69. That should just about jive with the March 5, 1969 release I've seen listed on a number of sites and seriously pre-dates the Quad program at CBS.

Compare to the Quad Master box for Indian Reservation two pages later, which also shows Track Layout for Quad reproduction.

It is the quad master tape box.

I asked Mike to include it in the booklet becasuse I felt it held a lot of historical value, being a very early - and unreleased - Columbia quad mix. Normally D-V don't do this (because this kind of stuff requires extra approvals from Sony) but Mike agreed with me and they put in the extra legwork to get it in the booklet.

Having said that, there were some stickers with barcodes and other asset tracking information and shipping/vault addresses on them that had to be photoshopped out for security reasons, and the track assignment layout was a casualty of that process, but it is there on the box in pen below the typewritten CALL ON ME in the tracklist. It says "Trk 1 = L Front, Trk 2 = L Rear, Trk 3 = R Front, Trk 4 = R Rear".

The tracklist on the box may have started life as a photocopy (or mimeograph) of the stereo master, but the extra handwriting on it is from whoever was logging the quad mix. I've also seen the other side of the quad master tape box (which wasn't published in the booklet) which says in thick black permanent marker:

Qxxxxx (a five digit number I'm not sure if I'm allowed to reproduce, so I'll err on the side of caution)
HARD + HEAVY
PAUL REVERE &
THE RAIDERS

QUAD

J.R.
(the initials of Jim Reeves, who did the quad mix)

So there's no doubt it's the quad master box, on either side.

As for why it looks different than the Indian Reservation master tape, well they were done nearly 3 years apart by two different people (Reeves and Larry Keyes) and under different circumstances - Keyes as part of a very official assembly line process, and Reeves in quasi-secret, as John Cale related in his autobiography and in a Sound on Sound article that I posted about a while back here. The public part of CBS's quad program may have been January 1972 to April 1977 (for pop stuff, anyway) but reps from the company said in various interviews with Billboard, Record World and Cash Box when CBS was just getting in to quad in 1971/72 that they'd been "experimenting" with quad since 1969, and that's where mixes like Hard 'n' Heavy come from. It's also why the Mike Robin reels are full of titles from 1968 and 1969 like Laura Nyro's Eli album, BS&T Child is Father to the Man, Santana I and Abraxas, and so on - they weren't going back and mixing these albums in late 1971 or early 1972, they mixed them in 1969 and 1970 when they were "current" albums.
 

fizzywiggs41

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Oh yes, we know CBS did Quad mixes in 68 , 69 , and not just from the Robin 's Reels collection but also most notably Thomas Mowery's Quad info ,specifically that John McClure (CBS head honcho) had tracks mixed in quad for the Scheiber matrix album .
 

LennonCobain

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I was comparing White Rabbit and Somebody To Love from the Apple Music Dolby Audio quad mix to a quad reel conversion of the same tracks on Worst Of. The front channels are swapped with the rears. Not sure if it was an error during the quad reel conversion process or if the Dolby Audio is featuring a corrected channel placement. I’d appreciate others’ feedback.
 

ArmyOfQuad

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I know when I did my reel conversion, I did some track assignment corrections as the mixes of the earlier tracks made very little sense as is, and I tried to lay it out in a way that I felt made the most logical sense. Others that did conversions may have also done the same to what they felt made the most sense. I don't recall what changes I made, but I believe I've documented that somewhere on a post in these forums. However, comparing this quad mix to the worst of reel, I'm finding the mixes to be different.
 

Q-Eight

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It is the quad master tape box.

I asked Mike to include it in the booklet becasuse I felt it held a lot of historical value, being a very early - and unreleased - Columbia quad mix.

Having said that, there were some stickers with barcodes and other asset tracking information and shipping/vault addresses on them that had to be photoshopped out for security reasons, and the track assignment layout was a casualty of that process, but it is there on the box in pen below the typewritten CALL ON ME in the tracklist. It says "Trk 1 = L Front, Trk 2 = L Rear, Trk 3 = R Front, Trk 4 = R Rear".

The tracklist on the box may have started life as a photocopy (or mimeograph) of the stereo master, but the extra handwriting on it is from whoever was logging the quad mix. I've also seen the other side of the quad master tape box (which wasn't published in the booklet) which says in thick black permanent marker:

Qxxxxx (a five digit number I'm not sure if I'm allowed to reproduce, so I'll err on the side of caution)
HARD + HEAVY
PAUL REVERE &
THE RAIDERS

QUAD

J.R.
(the initials of Jim Reeves, who did the quad mix)

So there's no doubt it's the quad master box, on either side.

That makes a little more sense. Thanks for clearing that up. As it appears in the CD booklet, it looks like the stereo master tape box as there are no identifiers at all that it contains a Quad Master Tape. Not even a "DO NOT USE" label or something like that. If the label began life as a copy of the stereo tape label, and all Quad identifying bits are on the back.... well, you could understand how some of us got confused.

I'd be curious to know what the 5 digit number was. Did it actually get assigned a catalog #? Years ago, I found a website that documented Columbia LP's and singles with a fairly comprehensive list of all used and unused catalog #'s beginning in the 1950's and ending somewhere in 1985. I recall many interesting entries in the 30xxx and 31xxx series of LP's but for the life of me can't find that website any more.
 
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