Big Brother and the Holding Company: Live At the Carousel Ballroom 1968
There was a time that Janis Joplin and her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, were a tight little entity, as is evident on Live At the Carousel Ballroom 1968. Though an old recording, this concert was mixed by the legendary Owsley “Bear” Stanley just before his death in March 2011.
Opener “Combination of the Two” sees the electric lead of James Gurley and rhythm of Sam Andrews (plus his call-and-response-like backing vocals) moving things easily, followed by Drummer David Getz’s deep-in-the-pocket spanking on I “I Need A Man To Love.” The cover of “Summertime” here is scary-perfect with Peter Albin’s soft swinging bass running under the proceedings. “Catch Me Daddy” is that fast blues roll this outfit was best known for, “It’s a Deal” is a duet between Joplin and Andrews, and of course there are “Ball & Chain,” “Down On Me,” and “Piece of My Heart.” Joplin’s show-stoppers are nearly perfect, though the boys’ backing vocals are a little high in the mix on “Piece.”
I like the call-to-arms chunk to the intro of “Coo Coo” with Andrews on lead vocals (at least at the beginning) and Getz driving things along; Gurley gets a chance to really show off on this one too. There is a “Call On Me” from what actually was the next night’s show, but I can see why it was included, the mix here is great and this is an inspired blues belt-er.
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