Janis Joplin was one of the most popular blues/rock singers in rock 'n' roll during the brief run of 1967 to 1971, when she ultimately passed away after lengthy battles with drug and alcohol addiction, but her influence can still be felt today from musicans & singers in rock, blues, hard rock, and metal genres. So, it's ultimately fitting that Legacy Recordings have chosen to release The Woodstock Experience in celebration of Joplin's appearance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair back in August of 1969, and the 40th Anniversary of the festival itself. Included is her full set from the show, as well as the album that was just getting set to be released at the time, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!.
There was a lot going on in Janis' life at the time-she had recently left the band Big Brother & The Holding Company for a solo career, hooking up with The Kozmic Blues Band and in turn going in a more funk/soul/R&B/blues direction than the more 'heavy blues-rock' style that the Holding Company were known for. The Kozmic Blues Band had a full horn section, and mimicked the classic Stax/Volt acts such as Booker T & The MG's or Sam and Dave, so a similar type sound permeates the studio album here. Strong cuts like ""Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)", the Bee Gees "To Love Somebody", "One Good Man", and the heart wrenching "Kozmic Blues" are just a few of the classic songs here, all delivered with some passionate, powerful vocal displays from Janis.
Her Woodstock set has long been criticised as not being one of her best and a bit 'ragged', but you'd be hard pressed to tell that here. Featuring songs from her time with Big Brother as well as from the new album, it's a pretty inspired set, with Janis in good form vocally throughout the ten songs. From the smoky, sultry "Kozmic Blues", to the sizzling, guitar drenched "Raise Your Hand", all the way to the lengthy, hard rocking "Ball and Chain", both the band and Janis deliver a strong set. Though you can tell the singers somewhat fragile state by her between song banter with the crowd, her array of whispers, screams, and powerful vocal passages shine throughout. Though the re-working of her classic song "Piece of My Heart" to a more R&B styled number is a bit jarring to hear, it's still a strong set no matter how you look at it. The pinnacle for many will be her maniacal wailing on "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)", where she screams like a woman possessed, putting her all into her performance to plenty of applause from the hundreds of thousands in attendance.
Hard to imagine that not long after Woodstock, two of its star attractions, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, along with The Doors' Jim Morrison, would be gone. So ended an era, but the 70's were just beginning...
1. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) 3:55
2. Maybe 3:39
3. One Good Man 4:09
4. As Good As You've Been To This World 5:25
5. To Love Somebody 5:13
6. Kozmic Blues 4:22
7. Little Girl Blue 3:48
8. Work Me, Lord 6:36
1. Raise Your Hand (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 5:31
2. As Good As You've Been To This World (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 6:25
3. To Love Somebody (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 5:16
4. Summertime (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 5:05
5. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 5:13
6. Kozmic Blues (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 4:56
7. Can't Turn You Loose (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 4:25
8. Work Me, Lord (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 8:42
9. Piece Of My Heart (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 4:57
10. Ball And Chain (Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, August 16, 1969) 7:42