Live At The Carousel Ballroom 1968
Big Brother And The Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin
The Pearl Sessions
In her short, roughly four-year career, Janis Joplin recorded four studio albums, charted five singles, played Monterey and Woodstock, and became "The Queen of Rock and Roll". Today, she remains revered and influential, a posthumous Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a constant on greatest artists of all time lists, a mythic figure whose emotional, visceral approach to her music and controversial lifestyle continues to astound and fascinate music fans, young and old.
The demand and need for Janis Joplin's music is well substantiated. For the Spring of 2012, Legacy has issued two tasty morsels from the vaults: Live At The Carousel Ballroom 1968 and The Pearl Sessions. One catches the singer at the apex of her powers, live on stage with Big Brother and the Holding Company; the other her final and most masterful studio effort with the Full Tilt Boogie Band and producer Paul Rothchild in her corner.
Previously unavailable, Live At The Carousel Ballroom 1968 was recorded by legendary soundman Owsley "Bear" Stanley, who supervised the mastering of this release before his fatal car accident on March 12, 2011, in his adopted homeland of Australia. Stanley, who made a name for himself working for the Grateful Dead and cooking up LSD, also had a hand in developing the sound system at the Carousel Ballroom, a former big band dance palace in downtown San Francisco that was eventually taken over by Bill Graham and rechristened the Fillmore West.
The 14 songs on Live At The Carousel Ballroom 1968, including "Combination Of The Two," "Summertime," two versions of "Call On Me," "Piece Of My Heart" and a breathtaking "Ball & Chain," comprise the best of Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company over two nights — two months before their break up. Bear took the whole thing into a more sonically satisfying realm and gave it a timeless sheen.
Two years later, Joplin recorded Pearl, released three months after her untimely October 4, 1970 death. The album would become her second No. 1 album after Cheap Thrills with Big Brother. The difference, of course, was that it was more rounded and better recorded album that covered the many sides of Joplin's musical talents. She had began making inroads on her own and away from Big Brother when she teamed up with the Kozmic Blues Band for the soulful I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!.
With the Full Tilt Boogie Band, whom she spent considerable time on the road, Joplin was able to take many of the songs she and the band had developed live and record them for Pearl. Other songs like Bobby Womack's "Trust Me," Spooner Oldham's "A Woman Left Lonely," the albums No. 1 single, Kris Kristofferson's "Me And Bobby McGee," and impromptu a cappella "Mercedes Benz," were brought in as the album took shape. Despite the backing of a full and musical band, much of the album floats on a simple and eloquent idea of highlighting Joplin's voice in a number of different shades and temperaments.
When putting together material for a 40th anniversary edition of Pearl, a batch of previously unreleased tapes from the album's sessions were discovered. This along with candid studio chatter, demos, alternate takes and two live tracks from 1970 fill out a second disc on The Pearl Sessions. Paired with Live At The Carousel Ballroom 1968, you get a clear picture of how captivating and special Janis Joplin was as a live performer and recording artist.
~ Shawn Perry