Big Brother & The Holding Company - Be A Brother (1970)

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

After singer Janis Joplin left the band, Big Brother & The Holding Company momentarily split up. Sam Andrew had gone with her to help with her solo project (the Kozmic Blues Band). Meanwhile, Pete Albin and David Getz joined Country Joe & The Fish and appeared on their album Here We Are Again. However eventually the band got back together in 1969, though without Joplin they had to try and forge a new sound. They also found new members in guitarist Dave Shallock and singers Nick Gravenites and Kathi McDonald. Gravenites was already known in the 60s rock scene as a songwriter and producer, having worked with The Butterfield Blues Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Electric Flag.
Their next album therefore featured the lineup of Sam Andrew (guitar/vocals), Nick Gravenites (vocals), Kathi McDonald (vocals), Pete Albin (guitar/bass), James Gurley (guitar/bass), Dave Shallock (guitar) and David Getz (drums). Gravenite's vocals dominate the album, which he also produced, though the others get to sing in places as well. Strangely, Kathi McDonald's contributions seem to just be backing vocals on a few songs. With four excellent lead guitarists in the band (Gurley and Albin taking turns to handle bass duties), there is predictably some really good six-string work throughout. It's some great psychedelic rock, with a country pastiche thrown in for good measure as well ("I'll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle"). Three of the songs are solo Gravenites compositions, and another ("Joseph's Coat") he wrote with John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service, who had already recorded it on their Shady Grove album.
All too often bands that lose key members and continue to record find their subsequent output unfairly criticised or simply ignored. This might be the case here, as after the departure of Joplin Big Brother never seemed to be considered such a big deal. A great shame, as they still produced some damn good rock music, as this album shows.

Cheap Thrills (1968) <|> How Hard It Is (1971)
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