Friday, July 29, 2016

The Essential Janis Joplin

Still on a Janis kick and this compilation is one that I simply copied from our local library so I'm not sure what extras it has other than the music, but it is a cool comp covering her career.

Opening with early Big Brother studio cuts like "Down on Me", "Women Is Losers" and "Bye Bye Baby", "Roadblock" (which are not nearly as powerful as their liver counterparts but give another dimension to the band) as well a great one that I was not familiar with "Coo Coo". A live "Ball and Chain" is, of course, fantastic and is not the usual (incredible) Monterrey take. The studio take of "Piece of my Heart" is still smokin', "Misery'n" has some demonic fuzz guitar work and fine blues singing, ya gotta love "I Need A Man To Love" (the guitar interaction - and the reverb and fuzz - are pretty phenomenal, especially for studio recordings) and speaking of guitar interaction, some of the best dual guitar work ever occurs in their incredible, definitive take on "Summertime". A handful of live songs follow and, again, since I don't have the booklet, I"m not sure where these are from, but "Flower in the Sun" has more psychotic/psychedelic/noise guitar, as does "Farewell Song" and Joplin is in fine form on both. The remaining live cuts are later work, with the more polished group (not sure if it's the Fult Tilt Boogie or Kozmic Blues Band) using horns for the soul classics "Raise Your Hand" and "To Love Somebody" as well as their own soulful "Kozmic Blues".

Disc 2, logically, has more of her later r'n'b-ish, horn-driven work, starting with the wailin' "Try" and "Maybe", and then we get the slide guitar blues of "One Good Man" and gospel blues in "Little Girl Blue" and "Work Me, Lord". The live "Tell Mama" is positively frantic and "Move Over" is her stab at hard rock and is blazingly dynamic - one of my faves - maybe due to Slade's perfect take on it! The  organ-fueled, ballad-y "Cry Baby" is probably one of her better known later numbers, I hear hints of tunes like "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" in the soulful "A Woman Left Lonely" and "Half Moon" is excellent and dynamic, with its ebbs'n'flows, "My Baby" is a sweet ballad, and. of course, Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee" is her huge, posthumous hit. I've always loved the goofy, acapella "Mercedes Benz" (a regular sing-along at family functions to this day) and for the last couple of numbers there's the gospel-ish "Trust Me" and "Get It While You Can".

I truly adore the insane, anarchistic, psych/ rock'n'roll of Big Brother but have learned to appreciate the well-done r'n'b of her later bands as a different but still groovy style. Good overview here but not much to surprise real fans.