December 2007

Janis Joplin - I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
Speakers Corner/Columbia CS 9913
Format: LP
Originally released: 1969
Reissue released: 2007

by Marc Mickelson

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ****

If you habitually dig through dusty piles of albums at garage sales and in thrift stores looking for original pressings of classic albums like I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, this Speakers Corner reissue will be a shock to your (audio) system. The vinyl is beautiful -- flat, jet black, and lustrous -- and the packaging is glossy and substantial. You will peel off the cellophane with great anticipation, and you won't be disappointed.

There's not much new that can be said about the music. Kozmic Blues is Janis Joplin's debut album sans Big Brother & the Holding Company. Cheap Thrills is the better-known recording -- number 50 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best albums -- but Kozmic Blues is the more personal statement of Joplin's edge-of-her-vocal-cords blues-soul fusion. The drawn-out opening of "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" percolates with conviction, as does "One Good Man," which Joplin wrote.

The pressing is quiet down into the grooves, and there is good definition of everything musical. Kozmic Blues has never been demo material, but here it shows off analog's ease, especially in comparison to the uptight digital sound of the remastered CD, which, to its credit, has three bonus tracks not on the LP, including a cover of Bob Dylan's "Dear Landlord."

Speakers Corner delivers a blow to your bank account by including a full-color foldout catalog of their current LPs inside the jacket. You won't be able to buy just one.