Sunday, 3 March 2019

Janis Joplin "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!" (1969)

Kozmic Blues is a long overdue listen, Pearl was such a fantastic treasure of the Woodstock generation and a wonderful introduction to the raw charisma of Janis's voice. I had to hear more and turning to this, her debut as a solo artist, one can hear a timely shift in tone and slightly different musical energy at work with slimmer influences of Blues, Psychedelia and a touch of Jazz Rock in its breathy instruments. It could be a comment on the posthumous nature of Pearl but being new to her music they both stand tall as great records. This one however has peaks that go unmatched in its other songs. What captivates me about it are the jam sections. Lively instrumentals of busying instruments bustling away find a couple of extended interludes to come forth in continuously memorizing walls of sound fronted by big trumpets and the like.

And then Janis arrives, her voice impactful returning from absence, seemingly catching one of guard. The eight tracks come in different intensities and measures of style and so does Janis's singing, yet even in her softest breath does she ever seem to be one word away from unleashing her compassion as her voice strains and strays into what may of probably been seen as yelling or screaming back then. With one of its calmer instrumentals boasting big and bold trumpets in its key melody in the build up to her arrival, Janis soars over soft, moody organs with an unforgettable performance to give you goosebumps. Her voice cruises high and low through her range, led by pure feeling on my favorite track Maybe. Its a timeless song.

Its easy to focus on her voice. Behind her the music resonates wonderfully. As mentioned before they often come forth in her absence as their is such great cohesion between the performers. The lead guitar comes to fruition on One Good Man with a tropical, psychedelic solo that's blisteringly electric. The best of this does find itself in the first half as the album broods with dialed down tracks that make her voice more intimate as a result. Work Me Lord creeps up on you from its smokey beginnings with a big theme that gets a little stiff in finding a conclusion and lets Janis lead out the record alone. Overall its a wonderful album but perhaps my familiarity to her curbed the surprise of the stunning singing in store, and there is a lot of it!

Favorite Tracks: Maybe, One Good Man, Work Me Lord
Rating: 8/10