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Big Brother & The Holding Company (feat. Janis Joplin)

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Album Review

The debut, self-titled album from Big Brother & the Holding Company is an evolving paradigm, ten tracks initially issued on Mainstream Records, a label that would have success in 1968 with "Journey to the Center of the Mind" by Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes. Unfortunately for Janis Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company, the respectable performances and all of the material on this disc are undercut by a weak production that sounds rushed. Recorded on December 12, 13, and 14 of 1966, it's quite telling that perhaps the best two songs from the sessions, Peter Albin's tribal-sounding "Coo Coo," and Janis Joplin's fiery "The Last Time," were only available on a 45 rpm and played as treats on FM radio "rare tape" nights. Those two songs have an intensity and drama missing from laid-back album cuts like "Easy Rider" and "Intruder." Big Brother's strength sans Janis was their ability to experiment and rely heavily on ideas to make up for their lack of musical prowess. Sad to say, there is little of that experimentation here. Even a potential science fiction Peter Albin composition, "Light Is Faster Than Sound," comes off like an audition tape instead of the hit it could have been had it the cosmic explosion of a "Journey to the Center of the Mind." The album does contain interesting studies of future classics, like Moondog's "All Is Loneliness" (the street poet eventually signing with Columbia himself), and Joplin's creative arrangement of "Down on Me," making it more of an entertaining textbook than a deep musical experience. It was the lack of product from superstar Janis Joplin which kept putting an emphasis on this release with little else available to satisfy rabid fans who couldn't get enough Janis. Columbia picked up the album and re-issued it in its original form, then reissued it again with "The Last Time" and "Coo Coo" added. [Big Brother &... was re-released on LP in 2012.]

Customer Reviews

Classic

This is great, but where's "Down on Me?"

Really? I have to buy this song by song?

… So, basically, I love Janis<3 I bought the 3-pack Cheap Thrills/I Got Dem Old Kozmic Blues Again, Mama!/Pearl. I listen to it so much, and I want to get this. However, and maybe this is just a technological thing, but I am wondering this: why do I have to buy this album by clicking on every single song? I mean, it says "Partial Album" but you can't click that to buy it. At least, I can't. Anyway, it makes me kind of frustrated.
<3 Long live Janis Joplin!!!

Song by song?

I have this on vinyl and cd but I can't download the whole thing here - talk about a ripoff! I saw the band in1968 in Philly - they were tremendous! This is still a great album no matter what the critics said.

Biography

Formed: 1965 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Big Brother are primarily remembered as the group that gave Janis Joplin her start. There's no denying both that Joplin was by far the band's most striking asset, and that Big Brother would never have made a significant impression if they hadn't been fortunate enough to add her to their lineup shortly after forming. But Big Brother also occupies a significant place in the history of San Francisco psychedelic rock, as one...
Full Bio
Big Brother & The Holding Company (feat. Janis Joplin), Big Brother & The Holding Company
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