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on April 18, 2002
This CD exhibits the raw talents of a San Francisco based band-Big Brother and the Holding Company, including Janis Joplin of course. Though in studio, you can sense the many talents of the musicians being exhibited here.
Though much more "toned down" than in proceeding recordings, you can still sense that a blues powerhouse and an acid-rock motif is about to happen. Consider "Bye,Bye Baby" and "Down on Me." Here, Janis sang in a very harsh voice and yet kept her bluesy-saloonstyle persona:notice the strong Texas accent.
A very common misconception is: Big Brother and the Holding Company was just a "backup band"for Janis. Well, any competant music fan would dissagree-strongly.Consider guitarist/bassist Peter Albin.Albin was one of the main songwtiters of many of the songs here:Light is Faster than Sound,","Coo Coo","Catipillar"and"Blindman." In fact, Albin based Catipillar on an idea he came up with when he wrote children songs."Coo Coo"(misreferenced as Jack of Diamonds)" is actually the song that would be re-versed as "Oh Sweet Mary" on the next album. You just have to admire Albin's intuition here.
Guitarist Sam Andrew was responsible for the beautifully meticulus guitar leads played throughout this album. Note that he was actually singing a duet with Janis during the track:Call on Me(not the outake).
Now guitarist James Gurley, on the other hand, is a totally different character here. Originally a folkie-fingerstyle picker, Gurley ushered his talents into the "acid rock" genre that BB&HC became famous for. Notice in "Blindman," the twangystyle of electric fingerstyle guitar playing was no other than the works of James Gurley.Unfortunately, this CD does not have the classic instrumental "Hall Of the Mountain King".Nonetheless the guitarwork and moaning of "All is Loneliness"was begun by Gurley himself.
The drumer Dave Getz, who used the bass and snare trum almost simultaneously while playing the majority of the songs-contributed quite well.

Notice:during the outakes and the endings of the songs performed on this CD, you could hear laughter and some dialogue.Most of the worldwide emerging musicians of the mid 1960s, (disregarding the Dead,the Airplane,etc,)tended to worry more about financial gains or musical survival(career ego).However, Big Brother just-played!Plain and simple;not only as one singer/backup band, but an ENSEMBLE.After listening to this CD, you will definitely know what I mean!!!!!!!!!!!!
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VINE VOICEon January 11, 2011
"Big Brother & the Holding Company," is an early recording by Big Brother and the Holding Company, a psychedelic blues rock San Francisco-based band during the late 1960's. The record survives largely because of their great, great chick singer, Janis Joplin, of course, who joined them on a Chicago gig. Although Joplin fans will know that she did not, unfortunately, survive the 1970's, as she passed on October 4, 1970 (aged 27), in Los Angeles, California. But in her brief career, despite her troubled life, she left behind a stunning, gutsy repertory of work that has long since floated free of, and outlived, Big Brother. This record, however, was laid down about six months before she (and they) achieved lasting blazing stardom at the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival.

This record, although made rather early in her all-too short career, functions almost as a best-of: it's got a number of her hits on it, including "Bye Bye Baby," "Easy Rider,""Call on Me,"and a very bluesy "Down on Me,"all delivered thrillingly, and in her trademark growling/shouting style that owed a lot to the women blues shouters before her. Weren't very many female blues shouters in Janis's day, although, actually, one of the best of them was the Chicago-based Koko Taylor (What It Takes: The Chess Years (Expanded Edition)). (Somehow or another, I have to tell you, I saw Taylor perform twice, each time seemingly wearing a house dress and $10 wig, but she tore the roof off the venue, even Brooklyn's Prospect Park -- without a roof!)

I also actually somehow managed to see Janis live, with "Big Brother," performing this repertory, at a famous venue of the time, Bill Graham's Fillmore East, on New York's Lower East Side, when it really was pretty scrappy. All these years later, I still remember the expectant hush when the house lights went down, the sweet aroma of various illegal substances, and Joplin's electrifying performance. It was quite a night, I can tell you. But don't wish you could have been there yourself that would make you as old as me....
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on March 7, 2006
There seems to be some confusion about this album. First, when initially released on Mainstream records in late '67, the title was, simply, Big Brother and the Holding Company. No special mention of Janis. That came with the several reissues on Columbia. Also with those reissues came the inclusion of the tracks Last time and Coo Coo. These songs were the A and B sides of a Mainstream single that was released along with the album. In other words, they were bonus tracks. Curiously, Coo Coo briefly made the top 100 in the pop charts. I have several versions BBHC, including a mono copy on Mainstream, and this is the first time the material has sounded right. The phase distortion that previously marred Janis's double-tracked vocals on Bye, Bye Baby is gone. Also, the instrumentals seem to have been re-synched (could be my imagination or just the drugs), so the band sounds more competant. The sound is as good as it's going to get and the price is right for this short, sweet slice of pre-history. For me Intruder makes it all worth the while.
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on October 31, 1999
These 1966 recordings sound much more folky, and soft than Big Brother's later albums. More subdued and punctual than the loose, heavily amplified BBHC I am used to hearing. Even gently psychedelic in a Lewis Carroll sort of way. "All Is Loneliness" is Janis at her most haunting. My mother got this album on record when it came out, and I listened to it often throughout my younger years. But now that I am older, I kind of stole it from her. I flipped when I saw the new reissue Cd in the store. A must buy for any Janis fan.
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on November 25, 2008
...because she makes this album expected. While it is interesting to hear the early little folky sounds of BBHC it is even more interesting to hear Janis Joplin in her early BBHC days.
This album was the first release for Big Brother from a failing record company called Mainstream. The album's producer Bob Shad was a 'scout' of sorts at concerts and shows in San Fransisco or anywhere he thought he might find the almighty dollar. Well we can sit and listen and be thankful for Mr. Shad's capitalism. This is an awesome little buncha tunes.
This album was produced and recorded in a studio with people who were reportedly not used to hearing the loud freak-out sounds of BBHC so this is not as big sounding as Cheap Thrills. It IS however a great trip back in time and it sounds more like Janis does folk rock rather than the usual trip-out and boogie kind of stuff. ALL the songs are great but its Janis that makes them great. Her own songwriting comes to life here and even though the band werent allowed to record at volume levels that suited them- this is NO cheap bargain bin disc. (by the way an original vinyl copy of this album is worth a pretty penny and is a GEM for collectors and fans alike)

Its a young vibrant Janis doing great tunes with an underground feel. I bought this a long time ago and I have enjoyed it more than I can say here. Its a glimpse into a youthful, innocence that a lot of people dont see or hear very often with typical Janis stuff.

STANDOUT TRACKS (in my opinion) ARE:

*Easy Rider
*Call On Me
*Intruder (great lyrics by Janis herself here)

Extra tracks were added to this later and those CDs are still very available.
This version of Bye Bye Baby is heard on Janis' Greatest Hits album/CD. Some of these songs on this album have double tracked vocals and it makes Janis' voice stand out and brighten the songs.

Even tho' BBHC were NOT the best band in the world- this album/CD makes you love Janis even more. Its Janis in her youth- and as I said before- its the sound of innocence and playfulness that makes this so special.
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on September 3, 2002
I can't honestly say that I'd give 5 stars for this effort, in and of itself, but rather for what it ushered in. This first effort to package the then unknown Big Brother into a kind of "Spanky And Our Gang" mold, to make them more commercially appealing, was not successful. B.B. was just too WEIRD for mainstream top 40, and never flourished there. They were at their best not in a studio atmosphere, but live, where all their un-restrained stream of conscienceness playing could be best captured, like the wild animal that they were (are.) Though Janis was just one of the group when this album was recorded, her legendary explosion soon followed, and it is interesting to hear her on this recording. Though her searing voice is featured as the lead in several songs, she was close to being a back up singer on many here, and, considering what followed, it is thrilling to hear her in her then almost anonymous glory. I still have an original copy of this album, with the wonderful psychedelic cover art by Stanley Mouse, it is one of my cherished possessions. I would recommend this more as a curio piece rather than a great listen, a precursor not only of the mythical Janis, but to one of the best, under-appreciated groups ever.
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on February 6, 2014
Track list: "Bye Bye Baby, Easy Rider, Intruder, Light Is Faster Than Sound, Call On Me, Women Is Losers, Blindman (not elsewhere), Down On Me, Caterpillar (not elsewhere), All Is Loneliness, Coo Coo, The Last Time (Single) + 2 Alternate takes. "Loneliness" has a good Janis sound, vocal, guitar interesting, fuzz sort of sound.. There is just enough different things to make this worthwhile if you've got the rest, but marginal interest. I did not really need this album, Janis best work came later, but wanted it, paid the man, got it. Enjoy... not the best, nor the worst, no *must* haves. Decide where your *fan* stops. Mine could have one sooner. -30-
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on November 17, 2013
This is a copy of my UK review.
Amazon have put the wrong title here, "Big Brother & The Holding Company", which is a single CD, even the mp3 link is to that single album.
What you should have here according to the track listing is "Box Of Pearls" which has all 4 studio albums issued by Janis Joplin, (Big Brother & The Holding Company + Pearl + Cheap Thrills + I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! ) with a bonus CD of rarities, so 5 CD's in total and 55 tracks.
To make matters more complicated, there is more than one issue of this box set, some very expensive, even 5x more expensive, strange but true, but all seem identical apart from minor packaging differences and year or place of issue.
Anyway, getting back to what should be a 5 CD box set, it can represent excellent value for money, (Amazon do not allow prices to be mentioned in reviews) and it is an easy way to buy a huge amount of her small output, coupled with decent presentation and booklet, plus the sound is digitally remastered and cleaned up.
It certainly can work out cheaper than buying all 4 individual albums, plus you get the rare takes etc.
If you want one box set only of JJ, then this is about as good as it gets and is currently quite a bargain.
I own "Janis" by Janis Joplin, a 3 CD box set with almost as many tracks, 49 against 55, sadly as it is out of production and so it is usually very expensive, even in used condition. It has many similar tracks but more rarities.
I highly recommend either but if you want a single CD and cheaper alternative, buy "18 Essential Songs."
PS Be careful reading other reviews as Amazon has the ridiculous policy of putting reviews against any similar album, so some reviews here refer to a single CD issue, not a 5 CD box set. Reviews on Amazon are often in a mess due to this policy, I have even seen reviews for the wrong artist because the album titles have been the same, eg "20 Best Of" etc.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 6, 2012
For the past several decades,Janis Joplin's musical personality has become the stuff of legend. So much so that today people who were influenced by JANIS have influenced other artists themselves. It's difficult to believe that such an iconic figure (not legend and icon are actually opposit concepts) didn't start out in any hugely auspitious manner. A band called Big Brother & The Holding Company were a house band at this Frisco club called The Avalon Ballroom. They had the music down pat but were missing something: a standout lead singer. In comes manager Chet Helms with a singer whose career seemed stalled in Austin named Janis Joplin. Upon meeting,the musical and vocal minds just clicked and Big Brother & Janis were off the races.

This short album has a very intimate flavor about it. Songs such as "Bye,Bye Baby" and "Easy Rider" are rather downhome country-soul type numbers with Janis singing a bit straighter than normally associated with her explosive style. On "Intruder" and "Light Is Faster Than Sound" is where their sound really begins to form as you hear that pyschedelic blues style format emerge though still within the 2-3 minute format. "Call On Me" showcases Janis in full flower on a wonderfully reverb heavy souther soul ballad. "Woman Are Losers" with it's baudy,proto femanist blues licks is an example of Joplin's affinity for the music of people like Bessie Smith,whose hard living and singing ways Janis was most fascinated by. On "Down On Me" it's a hard driving soul rocker that Janis again works with all she's got whereas "Catepiller" mixes in some surf guitar licks in with a similar sound.

The album ends with the more abstract bluesy psychedelic of "All Is Lonliness". The bonus tracks "Coo Coo" and "The Last Time",both singles reflect the music of the band becoming less and less commercial while the alternate take of "Bye Bye Baby" is effective as it presents Joplin's lead with no double tracking as on the completed take. Every time I hear Janis Joplin's voice,it's very much like listening to the full range of human emotion expressed at once. Similar to what I get from listening to Otis Redding or James Brown. Even in soul music,it's a rare quality to get it all at once like that. But of all the Janis Joplin I heard? This might well be my favorite of her with Big Brothr. One reason is that the band is very aware of how playing cleanly can add to,rather than detract from,the musical surrealism of psychedelia. And it's the perfect contrast to Joplin's almost overpowering,whiskey soaked screech. A very important album for those exploring the music of the Summer Of Love.
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on April 8, 2007
Simply titled Big Brother & The Holding Company (1967), the album is Janis's one attempt to be part of a group ensemble instead of the "star." The performances are proof-positive that Janis never succeeded at blending in - she had too much power. In the opening number, "Bye, Bye Baby," Janis's voice is double-tracked. Thanks to the elegant re-mastering job, the raw beauty of that performance can now be fully appreciated. The group itself produced a fine debut album, but it's doubtful that the album would have been treated to such a lavish re-mastering job without the historical connection that Joplin provided. This is the best of the San Francisco sound: raw, driven rock where the musicians were genuinely talented. Sounds great!!
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