CD Review: Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin

Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 (Columbia/Legacy)

Before Janis Joplin joined Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1966, they were a sloppy and barely competent boogie-blues band dabbling in hippie aesthetics. Not much changed once Joplin came onboard, except they had a powerhouse singer who packed more charisma than the four other guys combined. This 70-minute live set from their hometown of San Francisco is the first release in a new concert series recorded by scenester soundman Owsley "Bear" Stanley. There's nothing really remarkable about this performance, which happened a couple of months before Cheap Thrills (Big Brother's last album with Joplin) was released. The best songs, including "Piece of My Heart" and "Down on Me," come near the end, which means there's lots of sloppy psych-rock to sit through till then. — Gallucci

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