Cheap Thrills – 50 Years Ago Today

“Four gentlemen and one great, great broad. Big Brother and The Holding Company” – Bill Graham intro

Happy 50th Anniversary to ‘s second studio album ‘Cheap Thrills’ originally released August 12, 1968. #janisjoplin

I recall bringing this album with me everywhere I went that summer. I never tire of listening to these vibrant tracks.

Cheap Thrills

Cheap Thrills is a studio album by American rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. It was their last album with Janis Joplin as lead singer. For Cheap Thrills, the band and producer John Simon incorporated recordings of crowd noise to give the impression of a live album, for which it was subsequently mistaken by listeners. Only the final song, a cover of “Ball and Chain“, had been recorded live (at The Fillmore in San Francisco).[1]

The cover was drawn by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb after the band’s original cover idea, a photo of the group naked in bed together was vetoed by Columbia Records. Crumb had originally intended his art for the LP back cover, with a portrait of Janis Joplin to grace the front. But Joplin, an avid fan of underground comics, especially the work of Crumb, so loved the Cheap Thrills illustration that she demanded Columbia place it on the front cover. It is number nine on Rolling Stone’s list of one hundred greatest album covers. 

On March 22, 2013, the album was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and thus it was preserved into the National Recording Registry for the 2012 register.[16] The album was named the 163rd best album of the 1960s by Pitchfork.[17]

 

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R. Crumb Articulates The Blues

R. Crumb‘s influence on my art and blues music tastes started in 1968 with Cheap Thrills the second album from Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Crumb had originally intended his art for the LP back cover, with a portrait of Janis Joplin to grace the front. But Joplin who was an avid fan of underground comics, especially the work of Crumb, so loved the Cheap Thrills illustration that she demanded Columbia Records place it on the front cover. It is number nine on Rolling Stone’s list of one hundred greatest album covers.

I value R. Crumb’s insightful articulation of the blues.  He has created various collectibles which uniquely educate and tell us about the blues. One such collectible is the Heroes of the Blues Trading Cards.

The trading cards complement the book, R. Crumb Draws The Blues, in which his homage to the life of Delta bluesmen Charley Patton, is beautifully rendered. Almost of comparable quality is the story of jazzman Jelly Roll Morton‘s struggle with a career-damaging voodoo curse. Crumb’s fondness for pre-war (WWII) country and blues records predominates this title.

If this type of content peaks your interest in R. Crumb as an album art graphics designer, may I also suggest, R. Crumb: The Complete Record Cover Collection. For music/album cover fans (like myself) this is one of Robert Crumb’s finest books.

I also discovered that R. Crumb is very good friends with Eden & John’s East River String Band. He has illustrated three of their covers and plays mandolin on their latest album, Be Kind to A Man When He’s Down.

ALL ARTWORK IS COPYRIGHT ROBERT CRUMB UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED

Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY Plans Triumphant 2012 Return, Part II

This blog post is about The Capitol Theater resurgence in Portchester, New York.

The San Francisco Scene on the East Coast

When I look back on the concerts I attended at The Capitol Theater I was thankful to see the psychedelic sounds of San Francisco were well represented.

the cap

Our first concert at The Capitol featured Santana and John Lee Hooker at the late show on Friday June 12, 1970. We bought the tickets late and got seated in the balcony. You had a great seat no matter where you sat as the vantage points were all conducive for the stage. John Lee Hooker opened for Santana. I am embarrassed to say that I wasn’t a patient concert goer like I am today. We were rude to the great bluesmen and kept shouting for Santana. I regret my actions that night and wish I treasured John Lee Hooker’s set more than I did. It turns out that was the only time I got to see him play.

When he came back out for an encore we groaned but let me tell you this, he schooled us that night. He did a rendition of “One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer” that included the boogie blues beat that enthralled me. He turned me around with that number and I was cheering for him when he left the stage. Little did I realize how much Carlos Santana respected John Lee Hooker until years later when they recorded The Healer together.

Santana ripped the roof off The Capitol that evening. I recall they were bathed in a warm red light most of the night. I owned the first album Santana and played it all the time on my hi-fi system. Their percussive sound formed a rhythmic beat that kept us dancing out of our seats.

I didn’t see Santana in concert again until 2002, 32 years later. I have seen them live 15 times since the first show in Portchester. They are my favorite band and I have every one of the Santana recordings in my music library. 42 years of music and still going strong, Viva Santana.

The next concert by a band from San Francisco was our first concert by The Grateful Dead on November 7, 1970. I was sitting in the balcony the night of the Santana show when the sound system started playing Workingman’s Dead. The announcer stated that The Grateful Dead would be playing a bunch of dates at The Capitol in November. I ran right downstairs to the lobby box office and purchased our tickets for the third row.

 By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=768490

Seeing The Grateful Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage that close was a pretty awesome deal. NRPS featured Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. Jerry played right in front of us and he was spectacular on pedal steel guitar. He loved playing that instrument. He smiled throughout the entire NRPS set. I was especially taken with the vocals by John “Marmaduke” Dawson on “Last Lonely Eagle”.

The Grateful Dead played from 9:00 pm until 4 am the next morning, which was an incredible feat. I loved the energy the band gave off and how cosmic it all felt. You could tell they loved playing The Capitol. I loved the people twirling in the lobby and how happy everyone was to be there. I am glad this show was taped and I can play it often to relive the experience.

The following week Jefferson Airplane pulled into town. We attended the late show on November 13, 1970 which featured Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and E Pluribus Unum. I was excited to catch Jefferson Airplane with Grace Slick on vocals, along with Marty Balin. They were a powerful combination with Jorma and Jack playing behind them. The JA set was a classic music choice of their catalogue. Hot Tuna was a surprise that night and they also featured Papa John Creach on fiddle.

We would see Hot Tuna again January 20, 1971 on a cold winters night. They headlined for a bill that featured Big Brother and the Holding Company and John Hammond. The funniest part of that show was that there were so few people in The Capitol due to the snow storm that we were invited to stay for the second show, which we did. The guy behind us tried to get an encore from Hot Tuna but Jack Cassady just told him come to the second show, its free 😉

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