Janis was complete when she was playing with Big Brother, whatever the tensions and insecurities. It is a marriage of mutual dependance and both contribute enormously to the relationship. The later albums, Kozmic Blues and Pearl, without Big Bro, lack this passion, naivety, excitement and raw energy. This first tentative album does not have the power of Cheap Thrills but it is beautiful none-the-less. It's embryonic, not just for Janis but of the whole San Fransisco mid-sixties music scene. This is an album at the birth of psychedelic rock. 'Light is (indeed) Faster than Sound'. Then you have 'Coo Coo' and 'All is Loneliness' - only in the summer of love could these tracks blossom.
Did I say naive? This is naive in spades and gains much from being rushed, fresh and under produced. 'Down on Me', 'Call on Me' and 'Women is Losers' are archetypal Janis tracks. For the techies and pefectionists this album isn't. It's flawed, innocent, tinny some say and recorded in a hurry, straight off the street, to satisfy the band's live audiences craving for a record of their show. For me this is a landmark, coming of age album and one that fits perfectly into its unique niche in rock history. Rest your Soul Janis - this was your sanctuary if only you could have realised it.
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