Get this crazy baby off my head!


Big Brother & The Holding Company

Big Brother & The Holding Company - Do What You Love - 1998 - Cheap Thrills

Big Brother & the Holding Company's two post-Joplin releases, Be a Brother and How Hard It Is, are two of the best recordings by bands picking up the pieces after the losses of their respective comets/focal points. Where the Billion Dollar Babies and Spiders from Mars had to move on without Alice Cooper and David Bowie, respectively, their musical genre didn't lend itself to reconstituted hard rock groups -- look at the sad fate of post-Jeff Lynne ELO or BTO without Randy Bachman. Like Grace Slick, Janis Joplin joined the group in which she rose to fame after it had formed, but as the Jefferson Airplane could reinvent itself for the future as a Starship with or without Slick, Big Brother was never given the chance to continue producing its experimental psychedelic pop. Lisa Battle has a strong voice, and it's so different from Joplin's that the band should have developed a new sound for her. It didn't, doing a disservice to this able singer. Battle does a great job on the funky tribute to Joplin that is "Women Is Losers"; it succeeds because it is not a note-for-note copy but a new look at an original Joplin composition. On the other hand, what is the point in trying to re-create "I Need a Man to Love?" You can't possibly top the electric John Simon production from Cheap Thrills, or Live at Winterland '68's power. The high points of this CD are "Save Your Love" (where Battle's voice carefully patterns itself around this slinky blues-pop, despite the low-budget surroundings); the title track; and two very short pieces, "The OK Chorale" and "Back Door Jamb." Both those musical exercises should have been expanded to give Battle the chance to identify herself as Big Brother's current singer. The band, after all, began pre-Janis by creating unorthodox sounds. Kathy McDonald and Nick Gravenites, who both appeared on Be a Brother and How Hard It Is, are the kind of talents who bring out the best these musicians have to offer. Seven or eight albums with that lineup would have created a formidable body of work. Put Lisa Battle into that mix as well, and the possibilities are endless. © Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

A great blues rock album from the very different '60's band which featured the incomparable Janis Joplin. It's unusual to hear an album from this band which was released eleven years ago, (1998), retaining so much of the original band's sound. Lisa Battle is a terrific vocalist, with a unique vocal style. She certainly does not sound anything like Janis Joplin, and doesn't need to. Songwriting, and musicianship on this album is in the main, excellent. "The OK Chorale", and "Back Door Jamb" tracks are both less than a minute in length, and could have been expanded. However, that is probably a small gripe, as many albums seem to contain these very short tunes....doesn't always mean they're "throwaway" songs. Janis Joplin's previously unreleased (open to contradiction) 'Women Is Losers' was not one of her best songs, but Lisa Battle's great vocals make the track well worth including on the album. At times, listening to this album transports you back to the psychedelic, trippy sixties, and again, it's remarkable that the new band managed to recreate this sound on some tracks. An underrated album from BB & THC, and HR by A.O.O.F.C. Listen to the classic BB & THC's classic "Cheap Thrills" album, and their "Hold Me [live]" album is really good. Check out the band's website @ http://www.bbhc.com/ for detailed information


1. Take Off - Andrew, Michalski
2. Save Your Love - Andrew, Strange
3. I Need a Man To Love - Andrew, Joplin
4. Bos' Bio - Andrew, Healy
5. Women IS Losers - Joplin
6. Freedom - Andrew, Bastian
7. The OK Chorale - Andrew
8. Do What You Love - Albin, Andrew, Getz
9. Back Door Jamb - Andrew, Getz, Thompson
N.B: There is an extended version of this album available, with the extra tracks :- 10. Feed the Flame , 11. It's Cool, 12. Looking Back, & 13. X Factor


Peter Albin(Bass)
Sam Andrew(Guitar)
Sam Andrew(Vocals & Harmony)
David Getz(Percussion - Drums)
Tom Finch (Guitar)
Anna Schaad (Viola)
Lisa Battle (Vocals)
Johnny Thompson (Guitar)


Big Brother are primarily remembered as the group that gave Janis Joplin her start. There's no denying both that Joplin was by far the band's most striking asset, and that Big Brother would never have made a significant impression if they hadn't been fortunate enough to add her to their lineup shortly after forming. But Big Brother also occupies a significant place in the history of San Francisco psychedelic rock, as one of the bands that best captured the era's loosest, reckless, and indulgent qualities in its high-energy mutations of blues and folk-rock. Big Brother was formed in 1965 in the Haight-Ashbury; by the time Joplin joined in mid-1966, the lineup was Sam Andrew and James Gurley on guitar, Peter Albin on bass, and David Getz on drums. Joplin, a recent arrival from Texas, entered the band at the instigation of Chet Helms, who (other than Bill Graham) was the most important San Francisco rock promoter. Big Brother, like the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, were not great songwriters or singers. They didn't entirely welcome Joplin's presence at first, though, and Joplin did not dominate the group right away, sharing the lead vocals with other members. It soon became evident to both band and audience that Joplin's fiery wail — mature and emotionally wrenching, even at that early stage — had to be spotlighted to make Big Brother a contender. But Big Brother wasn't superfluous to the effort, interpreting folk and blues with an inventive (if sometimes sloppy) eclecticism that often gave way to distorted guitar jamming, and matching Joplin's passion with a high-spirited, anything-goes ethos of their own. Big Brother catapulted themselves into national attention with their performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, particularly with Joplin's galvanizing interpretation of "Ball and Chain" (which was a highlight of the film of the event). High-powered management and record label bids rolled in immediately, but unfortunately the group had tied themselves up in a bad contract with the small Mainstream label, at a time where they were stranded on the road and needed cash. Their one Mainstream album (released in 1967) actually isn't bad at all, containing some of their stronger cuts, such as "Down on Me" and "Coo Coo." It didn't fully capture the band's strengths, and with the help of new high-powered manager Albert Grossman (also handler of Bob Dylan, the Band, and Peter, Paul & Mary), they extricated themselves from the Mainstream deal and signed with Columbia. The one Big Brother album for Columbia that featured Joplin, Cheap Thrills (1968), wasn't completed without problems of its own. John Simon found the band so difficult to work with that he withdrew his production credit from the final LP, which was assembled from both studio sessions and live material (recorded for an aborted concert album). Cheap Thrills nonetheless went to number one when it was finally released, and though it too was an erratic affair, it contained some of the best moments of acid rock's glory days, including "Ball and Chain," "Summertime," "Combination of the Two," and "Piece of My Heart." Cheap Thrills made Big Brother superstars, a designation that was short-lived. By the end of 1968, Joplin had decided to go solo, a move from which neither she nor Big Brother ever fully recovered. That's putting matters too simply: Joplin never found a backing band as sympathetic, but did record some excellent material in the remaining two years of her life. Big Brother, on the other hand, had the wind totally knocked out of their sails. Although they did re-form for a while in the early '70s with different singers (indeed, they continued to perform in watered-down variations into the '90s), nothing would ever be the same. © Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com


While Big Brother and the Holding Company are remembered as Janis Joplin's band, they were active before Joplin joined them and after she left. Leader Peter Albin (a country-blues guitarist who had played with future founders of the Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia and Ron McKernan) met Sam Andrew, Big Brother's musical director, who had a jazz and classical background and had played rock & roll professionally. They approached James Gurley (who had taught himself to play guitar on hallucinogenic sojourns through the California desert), and the three began playing open jam sessions hosted by entrepreneur Chet Helms in 1965. Helms encouraged them to form a group, found them a drummer, and set up their first gig, at the Trips Festival of January 1966. In the festival audience was art historian and amateur musician David Getz, who soon replaced the original drummer. Big Brother and the Holding Company became the house band at the Avalon Ballroom, playing a progressive style of instrumental rock. Feeling a need for a strong vocalist, Helms recalled having heard Joplin before, and contacted her in Austin, Texas. She returned to San Francisco to join the band in June 1966. The Holding Company was clearly blues influenced, and Joplin had listened intensively to Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Big Mama Thornton. Joplin’s voice and presence, and the band’s devil-may-care intensity, made them a whole greater than the sum of its parts - and a Bay Area sensation. Their debut album spread their reputation, and their appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967 thrust them into the national spotlight. New manager Albert Grossman brought them to Columbia Records, which issued their legacy, Cheap Thrills. The album went to #1 with the help of “Piece of My Heart” (#12, 1968). Numerous observers convinced Joplin that she could use a more precise backing band, and at the end of 1968 she and Andrew left the group [see Janis Joplin entry]. After a year, Big Brother returned as a loose assemblage of four to eight musicians, which might include Gravenites (ex–Electric Flag), Kathy McDonald (a backup vocalist for Ike and Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, and Leon Russell), or no lead singer at all. Albin and Andrew were the only regular members (at times only Andrew). In 1972 Big Brother disbanded; the group re-formed in 1986. By the early ’90s they were recording and performing in Europe and on the West Coast. Do What You Love features vocalist Lisa Battle. [from The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001) ] © 2009 Rolling Stone


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w aoofc

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much AOOFC! This record was hard to find!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,A. Thanks, & keep in touch...P