Janis Joplin / Big Brother & The Holding Company

Janis Joplin died today of a drug overdose in 1970.  Being a fan of “hippie music”, I always kind of liked Big Brother & The Holding Company (I will confess to not owning the post-Janis Joplin albums by BB & THC).

I have a vivid memory of going to San Francisco (with my parents) about 1973 or so, and buying a UK pressing of “Cheap Thrills” (which I still have).  Many years later, I bought a 5.1 mix of “Cheap Thrills”, as an SA-CD.  The Robert Crumb artwork is very impressive on “Cheap Thrills”!

I also enjoy their debut LP, and I have a few different versions of it – I really like the version that has the extra material (“Coo Coo” b/w “The Last Time”, a Mainstream 45).  Still working on finding all of the Mainstream 45’s!

If there’s a flaw in the Janis Joplin catalogue, it’s her first solo album, “I Got Dem Ol Kozmic Blues Again” – just like when it came out, I still don’t know what to make of that LP!  And I just bought a copy of “Pearl” as a paper (kami) sleeve CD in Japan – though I imagine they will eventually issue all of the Big Brother & Janis solo albums as blu-spec CD’s…new mastering, to keep me busy buying…

Though if I stop and think about it, I have the best version of “Cheap Thrills” (the SA-CD), and I am not displeased in any way with the paper (kami) sleeve CD I recently got in Tokyo of “Pearl” – and as I already have a paper (kami) sleeve CD of the debut album…perhaps I can be done with whatever I will purchase on BB & JJ?

The Bobs

Happy birthday to Jorge Santana (of Malo) (1954)!

The Bobs are an acapella group that is still active…at least I think they are still active.  And there aren’t very many acapella groups that I follow at all…

CD                20 SONGS – 20 YEARS                              ACAPELLA US             PAC 2950

2003 20 TRKS stereo CD collection, acapella

 

CD                BOBS, THE                                                  RHINO US                  R2 71464

1987 15 TRKS stereo CD “Art For Art’s Sake” – their debut

LP                 BOBS, THE                                                  KALEIDOSCOPE US   F-18

1983 11 TRKS stereo LP acapella, insert – “Art For Art’s Sake” – their debut

 

CD                COASTER                                                    ACAPELLA US             PAC 2900

2000 18 TRKS stereo CD acapella

 

CD                COVER THE SONGS OF…                          ROUNDER US            CD 9049

1994 13 TRKS stereo CD acapella

 

LP                 MY, I’M LARGE                                          GREAT AMER US       GAMH 001

1987 12 TRKS stereo LP insert, acapella

 

CD                PLUGGED                                                   ROUNDER US            CD 9059

1995 14 TRKS stereo CD acapella

 

CD                SHUT UP AND SING!                                 ROUNDER US            CD 9039

1993 13 TRKS stereo CD acapella

 

CD                SING THE SONGS OF…                             KALEIDOSCOPE US   K-48

1991 13 TRKS stereo CD acapella

 

CD                SONGS FOR TOMORROW MORNING    RHINO US                  R2 71466

1988 15 TRKS stereo CD acapella

Frank Zappa re-issue LP’s

Happy birthday to Mr. Frank Zappa (1940) and Russian bad guy Joe Stalin (1879).

My heart nearly skipped a beat when Universal Japan scheduled a NEW SET of Zappa kami (paper) sleeve CD’s. But it was short-lived, and the series got cancelled quickly. Saved myself a couple hundred bucks, right?

 

“Finer Moments” was a FZ 2LP set that I knew nothing about. Even says it’s an “Official Release” (#94). But there didn’t appear to be a CD of it, then. So, I bought one.

 

Next I probably saw a new 2LP re-issue of “Roxy & Elsewhere” – a good FZ album, on many levels. Definitely a “new package” of an old favorite. Even says it’s an “Official Release” (#19). New mastering. So, I figured…better get a copy.

 

Probably the last new FZ LP I got was “Apostrophe”. For a single LP, it was a tad expensive. Totally re-designed rear cover, 180g LP, New mastering. I bought one anyway.

 

“Overnight Sensation” was not a difficult choice. The original US LP’s always seemed to have a mastering flaw, by where the LP didn’t sound great. The new Universal LP re-issue sounds great. Rear cover completely re-designed.

 

“Uncle Meat” 2LP re-issue must’ve been inexpensive, somewhere. Spine and rear cover totally re-designed. New mastering, 180g LP’s, nice printing – the booklet! An easy no-brainer for me.

 

“Freak Out” took some deciding, on my part. Most of these LP re-issues have been from “as good as possible” tapes, so I approached it via that avenue. Cover seems a little bit blurry. Really good 2LP set! It’s from original tapes, so it doesn’t have the ‘digital’ sound of the older CD.

 

I do not know where entire shows of older bands come from, but they’re here! There are 3 or 4 FZ ones, but only one I bought was “The Mothers Of Invention – Wollman Rink, Central Park, NY August 3rd 1968”. So this is a bootleg, right? Sound isn’t 100%. Perhaps not even a professional recording?

 

I hope Dweezil Zappa & Co. re-issues more quad (or 5.1) FZ, as we know Mr. Zappa mixed several albums to quad, way back when. “Apostrophe”, “Overnight Sensation” – any others? “Grand Wazoo”? A 5.1 “200 Motels”?

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell

Song For A Seagull (1968 debut, HDCD)

 

Supposedly produced by David Crosby, the CD cover now says Produced by Joni Mitchell. And she wasn’t trading on her booty! I knew “Michael From Mountains” as it had been previously covered by…Judy Collins? Well, it had already been covered. I had some idea about the education of (many) Canadians, due to my exposure to Leonard Cohen.

 

My only complaint with this album is that I don’t like her “yodeling” during overdubs. The HDCD sounds fine, for a 1968 recording. Studio credits are not given, and titling the sides of the record was something new, too – suggesting they are a ‘song cycle’ – which was new in 1968. I doubt there are mono copies of this LP, but maybe the promo LP was mono?; and what is the 45 from this album? I do not remember hearing this LP on the FM radio, when I was very young.

 

Clouds (1969 2nd album, HDCD)

 

Two really famous songs on this album, thanks again to Judy Collins. I remember hearing “Chelsea Morning” by Joni Mitchell on the FM radio; thanks to Warner / Reprise sampler LP’s I knew what label she was signed to. What’s the Joni Mitchell 45 for this LP? “Chelsea Morning”? I doubt the promo LP was mono, but you can never be sure. FM radio seemed to love her, by now. HDCD sounds great, for 1969.

 

Ladies of the Canyon (1970 3rd album, HDCD)

 

BIG HIT single, please! Generational recognition, hippie entitlement? “Woodstock” was a good Crosby Stills Nash & Young song – hear her version here! She’s beginning to add instruments other than guitar and piano to this album – Milt Holland! Famous unnamed backing vocalists. 3rd album with artist cover art.

 

Blue (1971 4th album, HDCD)

 

The difficult 4th album! And James Taylor? Really? Guess she didn’t mind a bit of junk, as Mr. Taylor was not unmedicated at this time. Russ Kunkel! (Session men!). But I am not one for serious singer / songwriter albums; well, I do own a few Leonard Cohen albums. I was 14 when this album first walked down the pike; I knew nothing about interpersonal relationships, as yet.

 

For The Roses (1972 5th album, HDCD)

 

More session men! James Burton! She says “fuck” on “Woman Of Heart and Mind”, but – as previously stated – at 15, I knew nothing about interpersonal relationships. And she’s naked on the cover, without giving it away. Steve Stills was here!

 

Court and Spark (1974 6th album, HDCD)

 

“Help Me” got played to death on FM radio! As did “Free Man In Paris”. “Raised On Robbery” was a good 45, but FM radio favored the other two songs previously mentioned. LOTS of session men! Hippie entitlement! An Annie Ross cover version! Wayne Perkins!

 

HDCD sounds pretty good, but it gets awful close to “slick crap, L.A. style” – for my taste. I was never a fan of Steely Dan or The Crusaders.

Neil Young

Happy birthday Adam Ant (1954) and Lulu (Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie) (1948).

 

Neil Young (1968 debut, HDCD)

 

I had forgotten this album begins with an instrumental song. The song “The Loner” had already appeared on a Warner / Reprise sampler LP, and – having been a Buffalo Springfield fan – I was inclined to listen. In 1969, the name Jack Nitzsche didn’t mean anything. It would after “Performance” (the film) got released, but that’s in the future.

 

The shorter songs on this album sound like Buffalo Springfield songs, so – for argument’s sake – let’s say I am 100% OK with anything under 9 minutes in length. I was mildly amused at a solo album from a member of Buffalo Springfield, as I probably hadn’t fully realized how those guys worked together.

 

The 2009 HDCD sounds pretty good, for a recording of this age.

 

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969, 2nd album, HDCD)

 

With the allure of the BIG HIT single, “Cinnamon Girl” – many people became aware of who Neil Young was, with this album. The 9 minute rule is now a 10 minute rule, why did he insist on making 2 such “epic” works on this LP? (I know, because he could). As I recall, this LP was $4.98 list price – not a more expensive $5.98 list price. So, Warner / Reprise wanted EVERYBODY to buy it. And with the BIG HIT single, that could be possible!

 

FM radio guys could put on one of the 2 x “epics”, and go out for a smoke!

 

After The Goldrush (1970, 3rd album, HDCD)

 

This is actually the album I am most familiar with. Having been propped up by “Déjà Vu” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, I was ready for this album. The writing / singing sounds a bit more ‘English’, despite it’s (obviously) Canadian roots. The electric music of “Southern Man” sounded pretty good, too. And no 10 minute songs! The LP I bought came with a large poster, which is presently in the booklet of the CD. Yes, people wondered about Young’s pants, displayed on the rear cover. Let’s just say it dovetailed nicely with “Déjà vu”. Decent stuff!

 

Harvest (1972, 4th album, HDCD)

 

Perhaps some hippie entitlement is in order here. Following Bob Dylan to Nashville was impressive, as Young was among the first to do it. I am not quite at peace with James Taylor being on this LP, but the lap steel guitar doesn’t sound bad. And a 2nd BIG HIT single! “Are You Ready For The Country?” sounds like a statement of ownership, for a generation. Anyone listening to The Band had to hear this album! And, unless I am mistaken, this album started life as a $5.98 list, so not a normal $4.98 album. I read that Young originally wanted the LP package to degrade, once the shrinkwrap was gone – and that’s why the album has always had a rough texture on the cover.

 

I am amazed that this album gets picked as the BEST early Neil Young LP, over “After The Goldrush” – there’s no CSNY stardust on this album! Just more Jack Nitzsche stardust.

 

And it certainly didn’t help things by Crazy Horse making their own album; how much of this stuff is there to buy? Will the dominance of US acts prevail? Or will other influences be at work?

 

I was not a huge fan of “Harvest” upon it’s initial release, so I guess you could safely say I was already wandering off to new destinations, forever forsaking US artists. It sounds better today than it did in 1972, but…

Columbia / Capitol

Day #3 of the ‘info’ shortage. Or did I never look anything up yet?

You must forgive me, but I need to go on vacation again. Time to get out and see how California is doing – check on the health of it’s record stores, and restaurants.

 

I remember driving past Columbia Records, when they used to have a plant in Santa Maria, CA – it’s not a ‘sharp’ place to visit – but I like the tri-tip! Hard to believe there used to be one of the west’s largest pressing plants there. For certain, it’s ALL GONE – probably a Wal-Mart in it’s place. It has occurred to me that I should take out an advertisement in the local newspaper, asking for former employees of Columbia who took stuff home – do they want to talk to me about it? Or sell it to me?

 

Capitol Records used to have a big pressing plant on the road to Glendale, CA. I saw inside of there when I worked for Licorice Pizza. To this day, I see sealed Capitol goodies turn up at Rockaway. There must be buckets of stuff in hiding, waiting for the owner to croak – so that the family can not give a tinker’s cuss and sell it all to Rockaway (or other place) – and I can be enjoy!

 

During my recent visit to Portland, OR I pondered why Portland seems to have a million records for sale, while Seattle has almost nothing. Everyday Music has stores in Washington, so it’s possible there’s more than meets the eye up there.

 

When I went to Phoenix, AZ with Joe Castle a few years ago, the Zia Records chain seemed all-powerful, particularly the one by the university. There were still indie stores in Phoenix, but some may be gone now. Never did get to have pizza at Casa Bianca, that place near downtown that supposed to have such good pizza, in Phoenix.

 

I go to San Diego for a variety of reasons, but I confess that I really like the swap meet that I’ve been to several times! In addition to Mexican dealers showing up – Blue Meannie used to operate out of El Cajon, and I could swear I’ve bought stuff that ONLY Blue Meannie would’ve had to sell. And, there’s Folk Arts Records in Normal Heights, Lou’s in Encinitas – and a few more I need to check out.

 

Claremont swap meet is coming right up, on Sunday February 8th, 2015. C’mon out to California and see how it’s done right! You can hit Rhino Claremont, after having lunch at Walter’s.

 

If you want to go North, there’s CD Trader in Tarzana, Salzer’s & Grady’s in Ventura, Warbler in Santa Barbara, and if you get all the way up to S.L.O., there’s Boo Boo & Cheap Thrills (which has to be the largest inventory in that fine city). And decent stuff to eat & drink there, too! I just wish the hotels were cheaper there. I’d go all the time, if I could find a hotel room for under $90 in S.L.O.!