Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Cosmic Blues Again Mama! – Speakers Corner Records

by | Dec 10, 2022 | Jazz CD Reviews, Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

This is a great re-mastered vinyl of the first queen of rock!

Janis Joplin – I Got Dem Ol’ Cosmic Blues Again Mama! – Columbia Records KCS 9913 (1969)/Speakers Corner Records (2022) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 37:31 ****1/2:

(Janis Joplin – lead vocals, guitar;  Sam Andrew – guitar, vocals; Michael Monarch – guitar; Michael Bloomfield – guitar; Brad Campbell – bass; Richard Kermode – organ, keyboards; Gabriel Mekler – organ, keyboards; Goldy McJohn – organ, keyboards; Maury Baker – drums; Lonnie Castille – drums; Terry Clements – tenor saxophone; Cornelius “Snooky” Flowers – baritone saxophone; Luis Gasca = trumpet)

By the late 1960’s the rock music world continued to be male-dominated. Unlike country, jazz, blues, pop and folk, the genre had not socially evolved. That changed in the mid 60’s when Grace Slick and Janis Joplin entered the San Francisco scene. Joplin, a Texas native, was a strict devotee of blues music. Her gravely voice and impassioned delivery were more like Bessie Smith than Elvis Presley. She became part of Big Brother & The Holding Company, helping to usher in the “psychedelic” blues movement which established the “City By The Bay” as a burgeoning musical and cultural meccas. Her two band albums were Big Brother (1967) and Cheap Thrills (1968). Both were commercially successful. Songs like “Piece Of My Heart”, “Ball And Chain” and“Down On Me” became rock classics. Concert appearances at Monterey Pop and Woodstock propelled Joplin to stardom. Her candid appearances on Dick Cavett’s talk show added to the charisma. Inevitably, Joplin went solo, recording I Got Dem Ol’ Kosmic Blues Again Mama! and demonstrated her viability as a bona fide rock star. Sadly, while recording what would become her breakthrough album, Pearl, Joplin died of an accidental overdose.

Speakers Corner Records has releases a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!. Side 1 opens with quintessential Joplin blues rock on “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder”. With a steady r & B groove, the singer unfurls her vocal intensity and raw passion. A horn chorus and dense sound mix frame the gut-wrenching vocals (with falsetto). An a capella interlude precedes the boisterous finish. With a loping tempo and Memphis-style arrangement, “One Good Man” is another blues statement. The declaratory “Maybe, maybe, maybe” is like Sunday testimony. Joplin’s exchanges with the band in a punctuated dialogue. Again, the high-voltage, upper-register vocal is rendered with grittiness. A psychedelic organ intro kicks off “As Good As You’ve Been To The World”. Joplin lays down her marker as an authentic blues artist with a growling vocal detailing the urgent need for the right man. A pair of searing electric guitars brings a rock “heaviness” to the jam.

Side B begins with a transformative arrangement of the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody”. Joplin’s deliberate  and improvisational style distills the abject pain of unrequited love, The fuller instrumentation makes this a soulful cover. Her unbridled emotion is anchored by a thicker horn/sax accompaniment (including baritone saxophone). In a change of pace, “Kozmic Blues” is sinewy, building strength as the song progresses. When there is a slower interlude, Joplin’s unique flourishes steal the show, and when things heat up, her exchanges with the band are magnetic. In an unusual selection, she covers the Rodgers/Hart Broadway  tune “Little Girl Blue”. She eschews the winsome melancholy for a down ’n’ dirty rendition with string accompaniment. The finale, “Work Me Lord” is arranged like a raucous gospel hymn, raw and unrelenting with blaring horns and swampy guitar and organ.

Speakers Corner Records has done an excellent job ion re-mastering I Got Dem Ol’ Cosmic Blues Again Mama! to180-gram vinyl. The mix is focused on Joplin’s powerhouse voice, and it works perfectly. Although her posthumous follow up release would become a significant hit, this album enjoyed her full participation. Janis Joplin was one of a kind

Side 1:
One Good Man;
As Good As You’ve Been To This World

Side 2:
To Love Somebody;
Kozmic Blues;
Little Girl Blue;
Work Me Lord. 

—Robbie Gerson 

More information available through Acoustic Sounds:

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Album Cover for Janis Joplin - I Got Dem Ol’ Cosmic Blues Again Mama!


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