Review Summary: Much more than a cheap thrill, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! is another jewel in Janis Joplin's illustrious yet short-lived career.
Blues Pills was one of the hottest bands of 2014 and a significant reason was of course the band’s charismatic vocalist. But one look at her persona and after listening to her stentorian voice, one can reach to a noteworthy conclusion; 45 years after her untimely death and Janis Joplin is still the prototype for any aspiring female rock vocalist. Chances are that during the next 45 years she will still remain up there as one of the most iconic female singers in the world of rock. Not only she paved the way for numerous women but she did it with style and an unprecedented bombast.
After recording two albums with the San Francisco based Big Brother and the Holding Company and making a name for herself, she decided to leave the band in order to pursue a slight change in her musical direction. The outcome of this decision was her 1969 debut solo LP with her backing band named the Kozmic Blues Band.
Released 13 months after the hard rocking, psychedelic Cheap Thrills
, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
is a shift towards r&b and soul. While it consists mainly of cover versions of older songs, this “new” direction actually seems to fit Joplin’s voice like a glove as she delivers what is arguably the greatest vocal performance of her short-lived career. If you’re looking for vocal gymnasts you’ll probably be disappointed as the focus on this album is towards emotion and the blues Janis feels deep inside her soul. There are several highlights such as when she screams to the top of her lungs on the chorus of “Try”, her bluesy delivery on “One Good Man” and “To Love Somebody” and the soulful “Little Girl Blue”.
On the other hand, as weird as it may sound, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
is a somewhat acquired taste due to the difference in quality between the vocals and the instrumentation. Janis Joplin’s decision to use a brass section consisting of two saxophones and a trumpet seems correct but the actual performance is a bit subpar. Moreover, in the moments where Joplin doesn’t sing, the music sounds quite dated and tame which is very evident in the opening minutes of "As Good As You've Been to This World". Just listen how much the tracks picks up after Janis starts singing.
Overall, I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
often tends to remain in the shadow of Pearl
and Cheap Thrills
even though it’s just as good or better than those albums due to Joplin's incredible vocal performance and the quality of the songs. The Kozmic Blues Band definitely leaves something to be desired but Janis more than makes up for it with a performance that cements her legendary status throughout the years.