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Remember her this way
on 13 April 2012
The sad facts of Janis Joplin's life and death have been recounted in several ever-more selacious books; when there's a new car-crash drug-addict or alcoholic singer in the news, Janis's name is routinely trotted out. We don't need reminding.
This film from 1974 celebrates the performer in all her passionate pomp. Janis on her best form shook her audiences into estatic frenzy. She never wanted to see anyone just sitting there, unresponsive. From the opening voodoo-hippie TV performances with Big Brother & The Holding Company in 1966 to her final major sets from the Festival Express tour, Janis's maturing performance style reflected her love, indeed deep need, of an audience's love. My favourite section is near the end of the film, where the Frankfurt stage becomes the setting for a rockin' party. One by one, at the hostess's insistance, youngsters step up to dance. Janis pulls them by the hands and welcomes them to groove with her. The screen fades away on a party that must have been very hard to break up!
From its opening - 'Mercedes Benz' plays as a camera pans over Janis's psychedelic-painted car - to the touching closing photo-montage throughout her life, the film reminds us of just what an impact Janis had on Rock and Soul. She speaks of her love for the blues, her admiration for black singers and her carefully worded disdain for 'straight people'.
Don't be put off by the Dutch text on the cover, this is the original film. It's a joy to watch Janis. I've always thought of her as my Soul Sister No.1, and all the fabulous footage reminds me of why she touched me so deeply the first time I heard that extraordinary voice. Unforgettable!