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I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!

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Album Review

Janis Joplin's solo debut was a letdown at the time of release, suffering in comparison with Big Brother's Cheap Thrills from the previous year, and shifting her style toward soul-rock in a way that disappointed some fans. Removed from that context, it sounds better today, though it's still flawed. Fronting the short-lived Kozmic Blues Band, the arrangements are horn heavy and the material soulful and bluesy. The band sounds a little stiff, though, and although Joplin's singing is good, she would sound more electrifying on various live versions of some of the songs that have come out over the years. The shortage of quality original compositions — indeed, there are only eight tracks total on the album — didn't help either, and the cover selections were erratic, particularly the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." On the other hand, "Try" is one of her best soul outings, and the reading of Rodgers & Hart's "Little Girl Blue" is inspired. The 1999 CD reissue adds three bonus tracks: a cover of Bob Dylan's "Dear Landlord" from the Kozmic Blues sessions that was first heard on the Janis box set, and previously unreleased versions of "Summertime" and "Piece of My Heart" from the Woodstock Festival. "Summertime" is okay, but this "Piece of My Heart" really pales next to the Big Brother interpretation.

Biography

Born: 19 January 1943 in Port Arthur, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

The greatest white female rock singer of the 1960s, Janis Joplin was also a great blues singer, making her material her own with her wailing, raspy, supercharged emotional delivery. First rising to stardom as the frontwoman for San Francisco psychedelic band Big Brother & the Holding Company, she left the group in the late '60s for a brief and uneven (though commercially successful) career as a solo artist. Although she wasn't always supplied with the best material or most sympathetic musicians,...
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I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, Janis Joplin
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