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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Janis: Little Girl Blue – Music Documentary

I’ve read from various sources about a powerful music documentary, Janis: Little Girl Blue by Amy J. BergIt has revelations about the personal life of Janis Joplin I have always wanted to know.

Thanks to an understanding between the Janis Joplin estate and Amy J. Berg’s documentary company we will learn more about Janis from her private letters to her family. Cat Power is the voice of Janis Joplin and the narrator of those intimate letters.

The film will be screening at the IFC Center in the Village in New York City through December 3rd, 2015.

 

Janis Joplin Stamp

 

My Father tried to teach me how to be a stamp collector. I lacked the patience to work with stamps, first day issues etc. However if I was collecting today I’d be all over the music stamps.

The United States Postal Service’s Music Icons series has unveiled the official stamp for the series’ next rock star Janis Joplin.

“Janis Joplin (1943-1970) was a groundbreaking singer whose powerful, bluesy voice propelled her to the pinnacle of rock stardom. An icon of the 1960s, she was known for her uninhibited and soulful performances. Joplin is now recognized as one of the greatest rock singers of all time, as well as a pioneer who paved the way for other women in rock music.”

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

Yesterday I wrote about the Super Duper Alice Cooper rockumentary. Today’s post is a companion reference about Alice Cooper’s manager, Shep Gordon and yes they are both in each of these documentary films. 😉

I was reading about Mike Myers (Austin Powers, SNL fame) curious to know what was going on with him when I learned about his latest project, a documentary called, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep GordonI Googled to find out more about, Mike Meyers, the film and its subject Shep Gordon. It turns out Mike Myers and Shep Gordon are long time friends and this documentary is a labor of mutual respect.

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According to IMDb:

In his directorial début, Mike Myers documents the astounding career of Hollywood insider, the loveable Shep Gordon, who fell into music management by chance after moving to LA straight out of college, and befriending Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. Shep managed rock stars such as Pink Floyd, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass and Alice Cooper, and later went on to manage chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, ushering in the era of celebrity chefs on television. Stuffed with fantastic archive footage the film traces Shep’s transformation from the 1970’s hedonist to today’s practicing Buddhist yearning for a family of his own.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon will be available in cinemas on July 18th. Cool!

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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

The Monterey Pop Festival 1967

Monterey International Pop Festival PosterIf time travel was an option, I would love to be transported back in time to The Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. When I look back on what Monterey Pop accomplished, the rich set of artists that performed, there was a magic that weekend that formed peace, love and the power of music for generations to come. It’s the music festival I would most want to attend and experience.

I would love to attend that festival at the age I was in 1967, close to 16. I would also like to experience the event fully with no understanding of the events as I know them now. What I mean is that I would love to witness each act unfold, be surprised by The Who and Jimi Hendrix, boogaloo to Otis Redding. I would just love to have been there from beginning to end.

Imagine meeting his Majesty Prince Jones as he walked amongst the crowd. Monterey Pop celebrated its 45th anniversary this past June.

Five years ago I wrote a blog post about the 40th anniversary of Monterey Pop It serves as a fitting testament to the event.

There are so many rock stars that are no longer with us who performed at Monterey Pop. For that reason alone revisiting the Monterey Pop Festival would be worth it.

Imagine seeing The Who go insane smashing their instruments amidst the smoke bombs and fireworks Keith Moon planted under his drum set. Or witnessing Jimi Hendrix set his guitar on fire. Hendrix was in top form that night as he one upped Peter Townshend of The Who.

There is a fantastic official Monterey Pop International Festival Web Site. I visit it often. I urge you to go hear Eric Burdon sing Monterey and watch the images, view the vast information available. Then go rent or own the rock documentary, Monterey Pop, directed by D. A. Pennebaker. That’s what I plan to watch later today. I own the deluxe video set (no surprise there folks…).

Cover of "Monterey Pop- Criterion Collect...
Cover via Amazon

If that’s not enough content for you, I wanted to point out that there is a new book available about Monterey Pop. Maybe Santa Claus will be good to me and put this under my Christmas tree, hint, hint 😉

A Perfect Haze, The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival by Harvey Kubernik and Kenneth Kubernik ,Foreword by Lou Adler, Afterword by Michelle Phillips

I found this painting on the InterWeb by Grace Slick who appeared with Jefferson Airplane that weekend. She named it Monterey.

Monterey, a painting by Artist Grace Slick

1. Unknown (Drug Dealer)
2. Marty Balin (*JA singer)
3. Jorma Kaukonen
4. Janis Joplin
5. Ghandi
6. Jack Casady (*JA Bass)
7. Otis Redding
8. (Mama) Cass Elliot
q9. Pete Townshend
10. Groupie chick
11. Grace Slick
12. Roger Daltrey
*Jeffferson Airplane
13. Jerry Garcia
14. Alice and White Rabbit
15. David Crosby
16. Keith Moon
17. Neil Young
18. John Philips
19. Jimi Hendrix
20. Ravi Shankar
21. Wavy Gravy
22. Ben Fong Torres
23. Brian Jones
24. Spencer Dryden (*JA drums)

I leave you with this video clip of Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company. This was THE  breakout moment for Janis and her band. Of all the performances that happened that weekend, this one is truly special. Enjoy.

San Francisco Music and Art Scene – R. Crumb, Jim Marshall, and Stanley Mouse

I was thinking about San Francisco today.I often transport myself there.  The music I played in the car today was recorded in San Francisco at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium in 1968, Cheap Thrills, Big Brother & The Holding CompanyThe album cover was drawn by underground cartoonist, R. Crumb. The liner notes for the remastered edition has photographs by the late Jim Marshall.

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I was browsing my Facebook stream this afternoon when I happened upon a very cool picture posted by Robert Altman.

There was a photo from a 1985 book on the San Francisco music scene of famed poster artist Stanley Mouse taken by the great rock photographer Jim Marshall. The copy of this book is from autograph collecter Matt Tadevich. Mouse took the time to add his touch.

I love the synergy of San Francisco’s music, Janis and Big Brother, Bill Graham, R. Crumb, Stanley Mouse, Robert Altman and Jim Marshall, who figures in both references.

Janis Joplin – The Pearl Sessions

Yesterday would have been Janis Joplin‘s 69th birthday. Legacy Recordings took that opportunity to announce they will be repackaging a newly curated definitive two-disc edition of Joplin’s final studio album The Pearl Sessions. It contains newly discovered studio outtakes, live performances and other sonic rarities. It is due to be available on April 17, 2012.

The Pearl Sessions brings together, for the first time in one package, the original mono versions of the album’s 45s alongside the original LP tracks as well as the revelatory newly discovered alternate versions, outtakes and vocal takes of Pearl‘s classic tracks.

The Pearl Sessions includes newly discovered recordings of Janis in the studio, joking with producer Paul A. Rothchild and her Full Tilt Boogie bandmates as they work through what would become an essential part of Janis Joplin’s core catalog. Paul A. Rothchild is best known as the producer of the first five albums by The Doors. He also produced LPs and singles for John SebastianJoni MitchellNeil YoungTom PaxtonTom RushThe Paul Butterfield Blues BandThe Lovin’ Spoonful,Tim BuckleyLove, and Rhinoceros.

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Disc One of The Pearl Sessions includes the original album as well as the original mono singles from the album.

Disc Two is a collection of behind-the-scenes recordings illuminating the Pearl sessions with highlights and insights revealed in candid studio dialogue, song demos and alternate takes including nine previously unissued tracks.

Pre-Order Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 CDColumbia/Legacy Recordings recently announced the release of Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968, a previously unavailable live concert recording of Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, recorded June 23, 1968 by legendary sound man Owsley Stanley, a/k/a “Bear,” who supervised the mastering of this release before his fatal car accident on March 12, 2011, in his adopted homeland of Australia. Dedicated to Bear, the album will be released on March 13, 2012, marking the one-year anniversary of his passing.

The Pearl Sessions Track List:

Disc One

The Pearl Album
Move Over
Cry Baby
A Woman Left Lonely
Half Moon
Buried Alive In The Blues
My Baby
Me and Bobby McGee
Mercedes Benz
Trust Me
Get It While You Can
Bonus Tracks – The Mono Single Masters
Me and Bobby McGee
Half Moon
Cry Baby
Get It While You Can
Move Over
A Woman Left Lonely

Disc 2 – The Pearl Sessions & more…

Overheard in the Studio…
Get It While You Can (Take 3) (Previously unissued)
Overheard in the Studio…
Get It While You Can (Take 5) (Previously unissued)
Overheard in the Studio…
Move Over (Take 6) (Previously unissued)
Move Over (Take 13) (Previously unissued)
Move Over (Take 17) (Previously unissued)
Me and Bobby McGee (Demo version)
Me and Bobby McGee (Take 5 – Alternate – Previously unissued)
Cry Baby (Alternate version)
A Woman Left Lonely (Alternate vocal)
Overheard in the Studio…
My Baby (Alternate take) (Previously unissued)
Overheard in the Studio…
Get It While You Can (Take 3) (Previously unissued)
My Baby (Alternate take)
Pearl (Instrumental) – Full Tilt Boogie Band
Tell Mama (Live – June 28, 1970 – Toronto)

Rock Music Photographers, A-Z, Michael Ochs

Michael Ochs is an American photographic archivist best known for his extensive collection of pictures related to rock music dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. The Los Angeles Times calls Ochs “America’s preeminent rock ‘n’ roll photo archivist”[2] and described his archive as “the dominant force in the rock image marketplace”;[3] The New York Times called it “the premier source of musician photography in the world”.[1] 

Book: Rock Archives: A Photographic Journey Through the First Two Decades of Rock and Roll