Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968

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Live at the Carousel Ballroom
Live album by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin
Released March 12, 2012
Recorded June 23, 1968
The Carousel Ballroom,
San Francisco, California
Length 01:10:51
Label Columbia/Legacy
Producer Owsley Stanley
Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin chronology
Move Over!
Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968
Blow All My Blues Away

Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 is a live album by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin. The album was recorded by Owsley Stanley in 1968, and released on March 12, 2012, on the one-year anniversary of his death in an automobile accident. He had previously been supervising the development and release of this album right up to the time of his death on March 12, 2011. The album is dedicated to him, and set to the specifications Stanley set prior to his death.[1][2]


The concert by Big Brother and the Holding Company was performed at the Carousel Ballroom on June 23, 1968, shortly after recording sessions ended for the group's, soon to be released, number one hit album, Cheap Thrills.[3] The concert was during a brief six-month period in which the facilities were owned by band's including the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, and the Grateful Dead. Afterwards, the ballroom would be purchased and run by Bill Graham, who renamed it the Fillmore West.[4] Owsley Stanley, most memorably produced innovative sound recordings for the Grateful Dead, originally manned the sound system for the Holding Company's live act, including numerous others in the Carousel Ballroom. It is the first piece of Stanley's Bear's Sonic Journals, which holds hundreds of released, and unreleased live material from contemporaries of the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene. No mixing or remastering was done for the release of the album which was by the design of Stanley to create a unique and real sound.[5]


Limited by the technology of 1968, Stanley admirably worked to perfect the sound produced by Big Brother during the performance. Unusual by today's standards, drums and vocals are transmitted through one channel to the left, and lead guitar and bass guitar through another separate channel to the right. The distinctive results are a raw sound depicting each instrument as a different individual entity.[6] Stage monitors were not yet developed, so the band members were required to listen to the echo effect in the ballroom, the P.A., and amplifier sound to cue pitch. As a result, there would be an occasional miss note, especially in the vocal harmonies. The miscues still do not hinder the production of an overall classic performance by the Holding Company.[3] Despite any imperfections, this style of recording has a distinct uncut sound that captures the true live experience of the Holding Company's performance, not drowning out any piece through typical sound mixing. Stanley also insisted that no applause be dubbed into the recording so as to keep the listening as legitimate as possible.[7]


As for the Holding Company's performance, Janis Joplin again takes the helm in a dominant lead vocal performance. Sam Andrew would also take part beyond his lead guitar role as an occasional dual-vocalist and backing vocalist. The Holding Company's heavily psychedelic instrumentals coincide positively with Joplin's commanding vocals, making her standouts like "I Need a Man to Love" and "Ball and Chain" even more impactful.[3] Again, Joplin establishes an emotional integrity in her performance that is largely appealing to the audience and any listeners to the show. This concert is a prime example of the Holding Company at the climax of their live appearances in San Francisco. Apart from the band's usual repertoire are two rarities,"Jam - I'm Mad" and "It's A Deal", that had not yet been released in recordings.[6] There is minimal stage banter, but for when there is, it is entirely noteworthy. After the eighth track, "Call on Me" there is an announcement given to Hell's Angels bikers, more specifically "Tiny" and "Tim", that their motorcycles would be towed if they were not promptly moved out of the parking lot.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

Live at the Carousel 1968 was released on March 12, 2012 to compact disc on the Columbia/Legacy label. Subsequent releases were included on vinyl and, another LP release included a bonus track, "Call On Me". This version of the song was performed from the Holding Company's concert in the same venue on June 22, 1968.[8]

San Francisco rock analyst Joel Selvin noted the live album as an influential piece in the overall "social/musical laboratory experiment akin to inmates running asylums, whose six-month run may well have corresponded with the height of the whole sixties Haight-Ashbury/San Francisco thing...". He goes on stating the recording is a pivotal part in Stanley's long and innovative sound engineering career.[9]

Within the liner notes, Stanley wrote how to listen to the album for the best experience. It addresses for the most effective listening, it is required to increase the volume and place one speaker on both sides of oneself. Stanley also states that "I believe that this will be hailed as a definitive Big Brother live album...".[10] Liner note writer Jaan Uhelszki explains "these 14 songs are a testament to what a force of nature Janis Joplin and the Big Brother and the Holding Company was during these two nights at the Carosel Ballroom".[11] Stanley's widow also expressed how the album cared for and preserved the sound production Stanley worked so as to distribute the full Holding Company performance. She says, "This is Bear's vision -- how he heard the band live, and how he wanted to transmit it to you...".[12]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Combination of the Two" - 4:35
  2. "I Need a Man to Love" - 6:39
  3. "Flower in the Sun" - 3:11
  4. "Light is Faster Than Sound" - 6:02
  5. "Summertime" - 4:35
  6. "Catch Me Daddy" - 5:07
  7. "It's a Deal" - 2:28
  8. "Call on Me" - 4:04
  9. "Jam - I'm Mad" - 6:51
  10. "Piece of My Heart" - 4:49
  11. "Coo Coo" - 6:22
  12. "Ball & Chain" - 9:22
  13. "Down on Me" - 2:44
  14. "Call on Me" (Saturday Show - June 22, 1968) Bonus Track - 3:56



  • Owsley Stanley - Producer, mastering supervisor, sound engineer, liner notes
  • Starfinder Stanley - Editorial supervisor, liner notes, photography
  • Rhoney Stanley - Liner notes, memorabilia
  • Paul Stubblebine - Mastering
  • Marisa Magliola - Project director
  • Phil Yamill - Art director, designer
  • Stanley Mouse - Cover art designer, lettering design
  • Jaan Uhelszki - Liner notes


  1. ^ Magalit Fox. "Artisan of Acid, Is Dead at 76". 
  2. ^ a b "Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin: Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 Review". Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Thom Jurek. "Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 - Review". 
  4. ^ "Carousel Ballroom History". 
  5. ^ Stuart Henderson. "Reviews - Big Brother and the Holding Company". 
  6. ^ a b "Music Review". 
  7. ^ Keith Hannaleck. "Janis Joplin - Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968". 
  8. ^ "Big Brother and the Holding Company Discography". 
  9. ^ "Bear's Sonic Journals". 
  10. ^ Joel Selvin. "Big Brother and the Holding Company Live CD". 
  11. ^ "Live Album Release". 
  12. ^ "Definitive Live Big Brother Album".