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Of hippies, ducks and capitalist pigs: Jefferson Airplane’s acid-drenched Levi’s commercials
06.07.2017
03:51 pm
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In 1967, Levi’s had a new line of white jeans it wanted young folks to know about, so they sought out three groovy acts from the West Coast and had them record free-form radio spots about the new white jeans as well as the revolutionary (har) stretchy qualities that made the jeans such an impeccable fit. The bands were the Sopwith Camel, Jefferson Airplane, and a Seattle group called the West Coast Natural Gas Co.

The Airplane had been together for less than two years by this point, and their breakthrough album Surrealistic Pillow had just come out. “White Rabbit” hadn’t been released yet, but “Somebody to Love” had been. They were basically in the act of cresting, and now they were appearing on the radio selling Levi’s jeans. 
 

 
The bands were given creative control over the spots, of which there were nine in all. They’re pretty amusing—you can almost imagine the Smittys in Mad Men pridefully taking credit for the idea. Four of the tracks are by the Sopwith Camel, and four were by Jefferson Airplane.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.07.2017
03:51 pm
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We all know The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but what about The Sopwith Camel?
08.05.2013
05:06 pm
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Cover by Victor Moscoso

Here’s my latest obsession: Sopwith Camel, a barely recalled—but amazing—group from the Summer of Love-era San Francisco, who were the second Bay Area band to be signed to a major label (after Jefferson Airplane) and the first to have a top 40 hit, 1967’s Lovin’ Spoonful-esque “Hello, Hello.”

If you look at a book of San Francisco rock posters, you’ll see their name show up a lot on bills often above the names of much more famous groups (like The Grateful Dead, who opened for them), but there’s precious little written about them online. I think they must’ve largely slipped past me because based on the evidence of “Hello, Hello” I probably mentally put them more into the bubblegum pop category, plus with their name, I think I conflated them with The Royal Guardsman, who had novelty songs like “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” and “It’s Sopwith Camel Time.”

Here they are miming “Hello, Hello” on Dick Clark’s Where The Action Is:
 

 
That number was used on the soundtrack of Milk. Their first album was pretty much cobbled together right before they split up, but Sopwith Camel reformed again in 1971 and their music took on a more jazzy/hippie Steely Dan meets War meets John Sebastian kinda sound.

Sopwith Camel released one more album in 1972 before breaking up again, The Miraculous Hump Returns From the Moon and this is what I want to call your attention to. It’s one of the most amazing overlooked gems of the 70s, a decade positively teeming with great “lost” music. I highly recommend it.

I realize that I compare them to three different acts above, but really this album, or most of it, at least, doesn’t sound too much like anything else that was going on at that time. And how many bands can you name that were fronted by a guy wielding a soprano sax? They had a highly original sound.

If there was just ONE song you’d hope to see by these guys on YouTube, it’s The Miraculous Hump‘s opening number, the futuristic CATCHY AS HELL “Fazon” (although you can hear it much better here). I could listen to this on a loop for 24 hours and never get sick of it:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.05.2013
05:06 pm
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