Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/09/2015 Update

Today, as we continue to work through the singles celebrated in the 1967/2015 mix collections but that will just miss out on making our best of the year countdowns, we turn to early efforts from a couple of monster acts from San Francisco's 1967 Haight-Ashbury scene featured on our 1967's Super "Sensational" Summer Of Love mix, Big Brother & The Holding Company and The Grateful Dead.

But as forever linked to San Francisco and the Summer of Love as these two bands are, or however huge they already were in the region's live scene (answer: very huge), both acts (and really every San Fransisco act other than Moby Grape, Jefferson Airplane, and Country Joe McDonald & The Fish) were still a year or two away from reaching their full potential as recording acts.

Both acts released their eponymous debuts in 1967. Both releases were highly flawed works.

Big Brother & The Holding Company, even for the era, was a shoddily recorded work, and provides clear evidence that the band hadn't yet fully accepted or figured out how to integrate Janis Joplin into the band (she had been brought to them by San Francisco promoter Chet Helms less than a year earlier). Worse, similar to British practices at the time, their label left the band's two biggest early 45s, Coo Coo and Down On Me, off the record (a flaw corrected years later when Columbia bought the rights to and reissued the album).

The Grateful Dead was a better-recorded effort - and a better listen - but includes just two originals in its entire track listing.

Still, as unremarkable as these early releases were, it just felt wrong not to include either band in our Summer of Love mix, so for Big Brother, we went with one of those two original 45s, Coo Coo (which also highlights the band's initial reluctance to put Joplin front and center, as she's pretty much kept in the background until a latter verse), and for the Dead, we selected the album's opening track, my favorite of the two originals, The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion).

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