Big Brother & The Holding Company - Big Brother & The Holding Company (1967)

Big Brother & The Holding Company are an American rock band which emerged from the psychedelic music scene of San Francisco in the 1960s.

Guitarists Pete Albin, Sam Andrew and James Gurley all met in San Francisco in the mid-60s and began playing together. They decided to form a band, having found a drummer in Chuck Jones, and Albin moved over to bass. Jones was soon replaced by David Getz. After a while they decided they needed a strong lead vocalist, and found one in Janis Joplin. Joplin moved up from Texas and debuted with the band in June 1966. Her raw, bluesy vocals completed the band's sound, and gave them a new focal point on stage. Her presence also reined in their more experimental tendencies, giving them a newly structured sound.
Their debut album was recorded in 1966, an interesting psychedelic blend of rock, folk, blues and soul. The album obviously presented Joplin as the dominant force in the group, though its worth noting that the other members did sing on certain numbers (most notably Pete Albin, who sings on "Caterpillar", "Blindman" and "Light Is Faster Than Sound"). The songs were mostly originals by Joplin, Andrews, Gurley and Albin, though it also included two covers - "Bye Bye Baby" (from fellow San Franciscan songwriter Powell St John) and "All Is Loneliness" (from eccentric blind New York street musician Moondog). It's worth noting that though the guitars of Andrews and Gurley have occasional moments to shine, in general they are not used to their full potential on the debut album (that would have to wait for its follow-up). Two songs ("Coo Coo" and "The Last Time") were recorded in the sessions for this album and released as singles later - they were included on the album when it was reissued in the 1970s. "Coo Coo" features Pete Albin on lead guitar. Whilst the album was being prepared for release, the band got to play at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967, which propelled them into the national spotlight, and made the album a modest hit when it was finally released (peaking at #60).

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