Monday, 9 July 2018

Big Brother & The Holding Company - Big Brother & The Holding Company (1967)


Released August 1967

Recorded in Los Angeles

1967’s debut from Big Brother & The Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin on lead vocals is nowhere near as bluesy as their subsequent albums. Released in the summer of 1967, it is a collection of all sub-three minute tracks and it a mixture of semi-bluesy pop/rock, mixed with a bit of country, hippy and psychedelic rock thrown in.


1. Bye Bye Baby
2. Easy Rider
3. Intruder
4. Light Is Faster Than Sound
5. Call On Me
6. Coo Coo
7. Women Is Losers
8. Blindman
9. Down On Me
10. Caterpillar
11. All Is Loneliness
12. The Last Time                                      

“Bye Bye Baby” is rather poppy and only gets heavier and a bit bluesy near the end, while the rocking “Easy Rider” has real shades of of The Rolling Stones 1966 work about it. “Intruder” is more blatantly rocky, with some blistering drums and Janis’s voice at its growliest. “Light Is Faster Than Sound” begins with Janis almost sounding like The Mamas and The Papas. It is one of those “spacey” songs such as “2000 Light Years From Home” - getting in on the whole space vibe, man. There are a few good bits in it, particularly a grinding guitar, but it is very much of its time. Just when you expect a bit of extended guitar play, it ends. “Call On Me" has an almost rock ’n’ roll ballad intro and Janis’s vocal again shows that throaty potential but it never quite gets there. This is very much an album of what was going to be in a year or two.

“Coo Coo” again ends just as you are getting in to it, some nice guitar but it sounds like a cutting room demo, to be honest. “Women Is Losers” has a “Jean Genie”/“Blockbuster” riff six years early. One of the bluesiest rockers on the album. “Blindman” features male vocals and some Californian-style hippy harmonies from Janis. Some good guitar parts on this. “Down On Me” is probably the best track on the album and one of those that sounds as if it has reached a satisfactory completion, as opposed to others that give the impression of being half-finished. Janis’s voice is at its best here. “Caterpillar” is a bit of an embarrassment - “crawling for your love”. They must have been on something when they came up with this one, man. Easily the album’s worst track.

“All Is Loneliness” has an infectious bass line and a real hippy bass and bongos vibe and another great Joplin vocal. There is something appealing about this one. It has a sort of hazy sixties psychedelic party feel about it. Finally, “The Last Time” see Janis ranting in true style at her man over some convincing, upbeat jazzy rock backing.

Overall, though, one cannot help but feel that this album is somewhat half-baked and there was better to come. There was.


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