Category: Janis Joplin

Big Brother and the Holding Company – Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin

ARTIST: Big Brother and the Holding Company   

TITLE: Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin

YEAR RELEASED: 1967

CHART ACTION: #60, #28 R&B

SINGLES: Bye Bye Baby (#118), Down on Me (#43), Blindman (#110), Coo Coo (#84)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubtful that you have, really.

LINEUP: Janis Joplin, Peter Albin, Sam Andrew, David Getz, James Gurley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A rushed debut recorded before they (and Janis Joplin) hit it big at Monterrey. Eh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Say what you want about Janis Joplin (me, I think she’s overrated, but that’s just me again), she deserved better than this band and this album.

There are flashes on goodness here. “Intruder” is first rate, and “Down on Me” would become a staple for her in her career. But the band here falters in both material (the originals, and even Joplin’s originals are meh), and performance (they really should have just picked songs that highlighted Janis). It’s also very skimpy – 23 minutes on first release.

If she didn’t wow the audiences wherever they played live, and then had a cult build around her, this would be a forgotten footnote.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded two tracks in Chicago, then ten others in three days in LA. It sounds rushed for sure.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Originally 10 tracks on Mainstream – when Columbia picked it up they added two sides of a single and ramped the running time to 28:03! Score!

GRADE C-: For diehards. For the diehards of the diehards.

Janis Joplin – Pearl

ARTIST: Janis Joplin 220px-Janis_Joplin-Pearl_(album_cover)

TITLE:  Pearl

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #13 US R&B, #20 UK

SINGLES: Me and Bobby McGee (#1), Get It While You Can (#78), Cry Baby (#42)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mercedes Benz.

LINEUP: Janis Joplin, Richard Bell, Ken Pearson, John Till, Brad Campbell, Clark Pierson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Another new band (“The Full-Tilt Boogie Band”) does Joplin pretty well. It’s her most cohesive album, and sadly, her last.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: From sloppy and fun, to sloppy and just okay, to polished and forceful, Joplin’s recording career is a little overrated considering the hype. However, one can hear that if she kept making records with this band, the hype would have been justified.

Joplin’s band has the chops and the ambition to keep up with her, and play as well as she can sing. Knowing that, she can cut loose more and lose herself in the song. There are no horns competing for space, either. This is just good to great blues rock.

The album, rightly so, feels unfinished at times. There’s one instrumental track, and one that seems like it wouldn’t have been on the album in that form had she been able to finish it, or at least I don’t think so. At any rate, it’s a shame she left the Earth right when she was living up to her reputation.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She wrote only one song in its entirety, and co-wrote another, but she had a great ear for songs that she could do justice to.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, there’s a whole sessions CD, and live cuts are appended to one disc as well.

GRADE: A-: Even a Joplin skeptic (those that resist because of the massive hype) will find a lot to love with this one.

 

Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again, Mama!

ARTIST: Janis Joplin 220px-I_got_dem_ol'_kozmic_album_cover

TITLE:  I Got Dem Ol’ Kosmic Blues Again Mama!

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #5, #23 R&B

SINGLES: Kozmic Blues (#41)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Try (Just a Little Bit Harder), Work Me, Lord.

LINEUP: Janis Joplin, Sam Andrew, Gabriel Mekler, Michael Bloomfield, other studio guys as the “Kozmic Blues Band”.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Joplin releases first solo album after she jumped from Big Brother. Album is just as musically sloppy but it’s sloppy with horns.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: (Note: Big Brother & the Holding Company will be covered separately, since they released two albums after Joplin left…)

Janis Joplin’s legend was made as a hippie chick who had blues and soul pipes to die for. In her first solo venture – the first where she had musical control over the whole enterprise – she and Sam Andrew found / formed a band with a horn section. It sounded like a soul / blues review; a loose blues and soul review after a few cocktails and other substances. Let’s just say there were a little ragged at times.

Also, Mekler, the producer, brought in a couple of Steppenwolf players on the QT to help things out. He and Joplin chose the songs and worked out the arrangements. The songs are excellent choices for Joplin and her pipes. Still, though it’s not the wall to wall showcase that many were hoping for, and in many cases Joplin has to do too much to carry the song – oversinging at times and going to her standard runs and vocalizations.

It’s serviceable – I like the raw feeling of Big Brother, though.

NOTES & MINUTAE: The album took just 10 days to record, and sometimes it shows. It seemed rushed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  Yes. One with a a bonus track and a couple of songs from Woodstock.

GRADE: B. The legend of Joplin is by far greater than the studio results for the most part. This is OK, not spectacular nor legendary.