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Release Info: Janis Joplin - I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama (US 1969)
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I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! is a 1969 studio album by Janis Joplin. It was the first solo studio album Joplin recorded after departing with Big Brother and the Holding Company. The LP was released on September 11, 1969 and reached gold record status within two months of its release. The CD reissue of the album contains "Dear Landlord", "Summertime" and "Piece of My Heart" as bonus tracks.
After splitting from Big Brother, Joplin formed a new backup group, the Kozmic Blues Band. Modeled on the classic soul revue bands,[clarify] the group backed her on the I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! album in 1969. Their first public performance was at the Stax-Volt Christmas Show in Memphis, Tennessee on December 21, 1968, with The Bar-Kays, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Albert King, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell and Eddie Floyd.
Reviews of the new group were mixed. Some music critics, including Ralph Gleason, felt that the band's horn section competed with her voice. Other reviewers, such as reporter Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post generally ignored the flaws and devoted entire articles to celebrating the singer's magic.
Joplin and the new band toured North America and Europe throughout 1969, appearing at Woodstock in August. The Kozmic Blues album, released in September of 1969, was certified gold later that year but did not match the success of Cheap Thrills. At the end of the year, the group broke up. Their final gig with Joplin was at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 21, 1969.
Joplin's performance was not included in the documentary film Woodstock, nor was it included on soundtrack albums released shortly after the festival. The 1975 documentary film Janis (film) included a clip of her dancing with saxophone player Cornelius "Snooky" Flowers during an instrumental break. The 25th anniversary director's cut of Woodstock includes her performance of Work Me, Lord. The segment begins with Joplin, her eyes almost shut, asking the audience, "How you doin'?" and then advising people who are stoned to "drink lots of water" before plunging into the song. Gabriel Mekler, who produced the album, told publicist-turned-biographer Myra Friedman (after Joplin's death) that the singer had lived in his house during the June 1969 recording sessions at his insistence so he could keep her away from drugs and her drug-using friends (who included Peggy Caserta).
By the time Joplin reached Woodstock two months later, her drug use had resumed. Decades later, Caserta and Myra Friedman recalled how disappointed she was in her performance and the amount of heroin she used. In addition to her stage fright at Woodstock, she had trouble at Madison Square Garden where, as she told rock journalist David Dalton, the audience watched and listened to "every note [she sang] with 'Is she gonna make it?' in their eyes." She told Friedman and others in the music business that she was a lot more nervous and prone to drinking and drugging in recording studios and playing large venues than at the Fillmore West and other small clubs. A writer for Playboy magazine noted during the Kozmic Blues sessions that Joplin made her own personal recordings of each day's takes with a Sony cassette recorder and, after leaving the studio at night, played them repeatedly searching for mistakes.
In February 1970, Joplin travelled to Brazil, where she stopped her drug and alcohol use. She was accompanied on vacation there by her friend Linda Gravenites, who had designed the singer's stage costumes from 1966 to 1969. Joplin was romanced by an American schoolteacher named David Niehaus, who was traveling around the world. They were photographed together in a crowd at Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Returning to the United States, the singer then formed the Full Tilt Boogie Band. Composed mostly of drug-free Canadian musicians who didn't associate with her friends from Big Brother, the band included an organ but no horn section. Prior to beginning a summer tour with Full Tilt Boogie, she performed in a reunion with Big Brother at the Fillmore West in San Francisco on April 4, 1970. Recordings from this concert were included in an in-concert album released posthumously in 1972.
In late June 1970, Joplin and her new band joined the all-star Festival Express tour through Canada, performing alongside The Band, The Grateful Dead and others. Footage of her performance of the song "Tell Mama" in Calgary became an MTV video in the 1980s. The audio portion of same was included on the 1982 Farewell Song album. The audio of other Festival Express performances were included on that 1972 Joplin In Concert album. Video of the performances was included on the Festival Express DVD.
In the "Tell Mama" video shown on MTV in the 1980s, Joplin wore a psychedelically colored loose-fitting costume and feathers in her hair. This was her standard stage costume in the spring and summer of 1970. Members of her band and her entourage called her "Pearl" at her request to describe her new public image, but she did not want the media to report the nickname. During the last week of Joplin's life, Circus printed a color photo that showed the feathers in her hair. The new costumes came after her designer, Linda Gravenites (whom Joplin had praised in the May 1968 issue of Vogue), resigned shortly after their return from Brazil.
Despite Janis Joplin's substance abuse, she voiced criticism of two practices that were common at rock concerts. A 1970 interview for Newsweek reflected her opinion on gate-crashers at concerts:
"I don't believe in gate-crashing,"Janis Joplin said last week. "The people aren't up there when I'm sweating on a stage at a festival, breaking my ass. You can get the money, man. Sell your old lady, sell your dope. Look at me, man, I'm selling my heart."
While Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead shared her rejection of gate-crashing (as evident in Festival Express), Jefferson Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner by contrast did not, as reflected in the same Newsweek piece: "I would enthusiastically urge anyone attending a rock festival to break in. They should be free," he said.
Joplin also objected to the practice of dosing people with LSD without their permission or knowledge. On August 4, 1970, while at New York's El Quijote bar with her publicist Myra Friedman and a fan, she commented that people who did that were comparable to police officers who go around smashing people's skulls. Joplin expounded on the topic a few days later. Over dinner with Friedman and "several members of Full-Tilt (Boogie Band)" in a New York restaurant called Bradley's, Joplin spoke about "what she called 'hippie brainwashing'. 'They're frauds, the whole goddamn culture. They bitch about brainwashing from their parents and they do the same damn thing. I've never known a one of those people who would tolerate any way of life but their own.
During September 1970, Joplin and her band began recording a new album in Los Angeles with producer Paul A. Rothchild, who was produced recordings for The Doors. Although Joplin died before all the tracks were fully completed, there was still enough usable material to compile an LP. "Mercedes Benz" was included despite it being a first take, and the track "Buried Alive In The Blues" вЂ” to which Joplin had been scheduled to add her vocals on the day she was found dead вЂ” was kept as an instrumental.
The result was the posthumously released Pearl (1971). It became the biggest selling album of her career and featured her biggest hit single, a cover of Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee" (which she learned from Arlo Guthrie), as well as the social commentary of the a cappella "Mercedes Benz", written by Joplin, close friend and song writer Bob Neuwirth and beat poet Michael McClure. In 2003, Pearl was ranked #122 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Among her last public appearances were two broadcasts of The Dick Cavett Show on June 25 and August 3, 1970. On the June 25 show, she announced that she would attend her ten-year high school class reunion, although she admitted that when in high school, her schoolmates "laughed me out of class, out of town and out of the state." She attended the reunion on August 14, accompanied by fellow musician and friend Bob Neuwirth and road manager John Cooke, but it would be one of the last decisions of her life and it reportedly proved to be a rather unhappy experience for her.
During the August 3rd Cavett broadcast, Joplin referred to her upcoming performance at the Festival for Peace to be held at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York on August 6, 1970. The date was selected because it was the 25th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The anti-war concert was a day-long event featuring many of the top acts of the day including Steppenwolf, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Paul Simon, The James Gang, and a dozen others.
Joplin's last public performance, with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, took place on August 12, 1970 at the Harvard Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts. A positive review appeared on the front page of the Harvard Crimson newspaper despite the fact that Full Tilt Boogie performed with makeshift sound amplifiers after their regular equipment was stolen in Boston.
The last recordings Joplin completed were "Mercedes Benz" and a birthday greeting for John Lennon on October 1, 1970, Happy Trails composed by Dale Evans. Lennon, whose birthday was October 9, later told Dick Cavett that her taped greeting arrived at his home after her death. On Saturday, October 3, Joplin visited the Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles to listen to the instrumental track for Nick Gravenites' song "Buried Alive In The Blues" prior to recording the vocal track, scheduled for the next day. When she failed to show up at the studio by Sunday afternoon, producer Paul Rothchild became concerned. Full Tilt Boogie's road manager, John Cooke, drove to the Landmark Motor Hotel (since renamed the Highland Gardens Hotel) where Joplin had been a guest since August 24. He saw Joplin's psychedelically painted Porsche still in the parking lot. Upon entering her room, he found her dead on the floor. The official cause of death was an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.
Joplin was cremated in the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Mortuary in Los Angeles, and her ashes scattered from a plane into the Pacific Ocean and along Stinson Beach. The only funeral service was held at Pierce Brothers and attended by Joplin's parents and maternal aunt.
01. "Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)" (Ragovoy/Taylor) - 3:57
02. "Maybe" (Barrett) - 3:41
03. "One Good Man" (Joplin) - 4:12
04. "As Good As You've Been To This World" (Gravenites) - 5:27
05. "To Love Somebody" (B. Gibb/R. Gibb) - 5:14
06. "Kozmic Blues" (Joplin/Mekler) - 4:24
07. "Little Girl Blue" (Hart/Rodgers) - 3:51
08. "Work Me Lord" (Gravenites) - 6:45
09. "Dear Landlord" (Session Outtake) (Dylan/Joplin) - 2:32
10. "Summertime" (Live At Woodstock) (Gershwin)- 5:04
11. "Piece of My Heart" (Live At Woodstock) (Ragovoy/Berns) - 6:31
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