On June 22 and June 23, 1968, Big Brother & The Holding Company played the Carousel Ballroom in downtown San Francisco. Owsley “Bear” Stanley, according to the press information, began mixing live wound with the Grateful Dead in 1966 “and ran the sound system for the Carousel until Bill Graham took over and rechristened it the Fillmore West in the autumn of 1968.” Just as Fleetwood Mac / Lou Reed /Steely Dan soundman Stuart “Dinky” Dawson recorded all his shows to see about making improvements, Bear had the same wonderful habit, it seems. Thus there’s a treasure trove of recordings supervised by the guys who were there. Osley passed away in Australia on March 12, 2011, but had already supervised the mastering of this tape for release.
Keep in mind that Cheap Thrills was recorded between Mar 2, 1968 – May 20,1968 with a release date of August, 1968, so these pre-Fillmore East recordings were made – this appearance happened – right in the middle of the heady time when the band was on the precipice of commercial success and chart action.
The rich history of these recordings is almost as much fun as the audio experience, but it is that experience that has to be first and foremost, the voice of Janis and the electric madness of Big Brother & The Holding Company entertaining people 44 years after the fact.
I don’t have my vinyl copy of Joplin In Concert in front of me as I write this, but a YouTube site notes that three songs from this concert – “Road Block”(3:02), “Flower In The Sun” (3:04) and “Summertime” (4:45) were recorded June 23, 1968 at The Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA. So “Road Block” is missing from this CD, but the terrific “Flower In The Sun” and “Summertime” are included.
“I Need A Man To Love” – a monster on the Cheap Thrills album – is great to have here as well, “Combination Of The Two” opened the Monterey Movie (not this rendition, of course), with much material culled from the Mainstream Records debut of the group – titles including “Catch Me Daddy”, “Down On Me” and the formerly rare “Coo Coo” which was only on a 45 RPM with “The Last Time” for years and years…until Columbia bought up the first album and put it all together. See my review on AllMusic.com
Some new titles (as in, not released before) include “Jam – I’m Mad (Mad Man Blues)” and “It’s A Deal” (which sounds suspiciously like something else from the first album, but I can’t figure out what.
It’s a great release to have…and something to keep us happy until the April 17th release of the double disc Pearl Sessions. Janis, like Jimi Hendrix, is prolific in her old age. The way we like it.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.