Tuesday, September 19, 2006

JANIS JOPLIN "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues..." (1969)

Recorded at Hollywood Columbia Studio
Producer Gabriel Meckler
Co-Producer : Nick Gravenites

Janis Joplin : Vocals
Mike Bloomfield : Lead Guitar, Back Up Vocals
Richard Kermode & Gabriel Mekler : Organ
Brad Campbell : Bass
Maury Baker & Lonnie Castille : Drums
Snooky Flowers : Baritone Sax
Terry Clements : Tenor Sax
Luis Gasca : Trumpet

01. Maybe (3.43)
02. One Good Man (4.10)
03. To Love Somebody (5.17)
04. Work Me Lord (6.33)
05. Nobody Loves You When You're Down & Out (5.21)
06. Try (4.33)
07. I Need You Daddy (4.00)
08. Get It While You Can (4.51)
09. Texas (10.05)

(01-04)LP/CD "I Got Dem Ol Kozmic Blues Again Mama" (1969-Columbia)
(05-09)CD "Outtakes From Kozmic Blues" (Bootleg)

Janis Joplin had gotten rid of Big Brother and the Holding Company, and only Sam Andrew was still around. The new band was augmented by Mike Bloomfield on half of the songs (so it sounds at least) and Nick Gravenites was a sort of co-producer. He was asked to find the musicians for the recording and gave some strong songs to be included.

MB plays very beautifully on tracks (02 and 04). And perhaps he also plays on (01,03). The recording dates are taken from the “Kozmic” CD from the box set “Box of Pearls”.

The outtake (05) has a very strong Joplin vocal, but a weak guitar. Even the solo is nothing to write home about. It could be that this was one of the first recordings, and that Bloomfield still is trying to find the groove. What is done is not bad, but it’s subdued and cautious, but it sounds like him anyway. The source for these outtakes is a vinyl record, assumable an acetate.

On (06) it sure sounds like Bloomfield is singing backup chorus here and there. Not much guitar at all, no horns overdubbed, and again a strong vocal performance, a take very different from the released version. Track (07) is the "weakest" of the outtakes. Still a good vocal though.

Track (08) has a little more prominent guitar solo. The song was later rerecorded in a much shorter version for the last Joplin album “Pearl” with keyboards as the main instruments. Track (09) is a surprise and a treat! Ten minutes of great vocal and great guitar. In a few places Janis’ microphone can’t handle her powerful voice, ending up with a distortion, otherwise a perfect recording that should have been on the album. Janis, being from Texas herself, is opening the song with this line: “I had to get out of Texas, babe” instead of the softer original: “I’d Just come in from Texas, babe”.

Sam Andrews :
On 18 December, my birthday, we held the first Kozmic Blues Band rehearsal and it was a strange enterprise from the start. Nick Gravenites and Michael Bloomfield were called in to help set up the new band and it was an education getting to know Bloomers. He was a great guitar player but he was also a scholar and a musicologist. Extremely articulate and knowledgeable, Michael's heart was in the right place too. There are many stories, almost unbelievable, about him such as one that Peter Amft, photographer extraordinaire, told us all one day about the Bloomfieldian photographic memory. Peter had just purchased a banjo and was returning home happily with it when Michael Bloomfield spotted him on the street. He began his usual rapid fire questioning. "Hey man, what is that, what kind is it, oh, man, have you heard Ralph Stanley play that one, let me play it, hey, let's go to your place and try in out right now." This bantering barrage is irresistible and Peter soon found himself at his flat with Michael in tow. The guitar wizard walked into Peter's living room and eyed a bookshelf: "Hey, see those books, have you read those? You have good taste in books, man. Listen, take any one of them down and open it to any page. Okay, now what page is it? 347? Good." And with that Michael quoted exactly the first paragraph on the page and he could do the same with any book there. The mere fact that such a story could be told seriously about Michael and perhaps even believed shows what kind of person we are dealing with here. Clearly a phenomenon on the guitar, he was an intriguing, volcanic personality.


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