Big Brother and the Holding Company

Band members               Related acts

- Peter Albin -- guitar, bass, mandolin
- Sam Andrew -- vocals, guitar

- Michel Bastian -- vocals (1987-1996)

- Lisa Battle -- vocals (replaced Michel Bastian) (1996-98)

- Nick Gravenites -- vocals (1969-72)
- James Gurley -- guitar, bass
- David Getz -- drums, percussion, keyboards

- Janis Joplin (RIP) - vocals

- Kathi McDonald -- vocals (replaced Janis Joplin) (1970-72)

- Dave Schallock -- guitar (1970-72)





- Animal Mind (Nick Gravenites)

- Michel Bastian (solo efforts)

- The Electric Flag (Nick Gravenites)

- Freedom Highway (David Schallock)

- Nick Gravenites (solo efforts)

- James Gurley (solo efforts)

- Janis Joplin (solo efforts)

- Kathi McDonald (solo efforts)

- Sons of Champlin (Dave Schallock)





Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  How Hard It Is

Company: Columbia

Catalog: C 30738

Year: 1971

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4833

Price: $20.00



If you had any doubt that Janis Joplin's departure spelled the end of this band's commercial existence, then the cover of this 1971 set should spell it out for you - the dream was clearly over.  


Co-produced by Roy Segel and Roscoe, "How Hard It Is" was the group's second post-Joplin release.  The earlier "Bee a Brother" had it's modest charms and nobody could have blamed the band if this one sounded like a fairly routine housekeeping chore.  Gather up what was left in the vaults, dust it off and then stumble off to start a solo career.  Surprisingly that's anything but the case here.  While Joplin's shadow remained a weight on the band, for this release the band seemed to acknowledge they'd never be able to compete with their past and moved on.  That apparent sense of freedom made for an album that's surprisingly impressive and enjoyable.  Mind you, none of the male singers is going to make you forget Joplin, but they get by and Kathi McDonald is a pretty impressive presence.  While she's only credited with vocals on 'Black Widow Spider', McDonald seems to have handled vocals on about half of the album including the rocking title track. Perhaps purposely, she occasionally bares an uncanny resemblance to the late Joplin, though without some of the former's more irritating excesses.  Pretty much every one of the ten tracks were worth hearing with the three instrumentals ('Last Band On Side One', 'Maui' and 'Promise Her Anything But Give Her Arpeggio') being the only real weak links in the chain.  As for the highlights, 'You've Been Talkin' 'Bout Me Baby' was a nice rocker, 'House On Fire' sported a nice greasy funk sound, while 'Buried Alive In the Blues' was kind of eerie, if only for the fact Nick Graventies wrote it for Joplin's "Pearl" album.  Columbia also tapped 'Black Widow Spider' b/w 'Nu Boogaloo Jam' as a single (Columbia catalog number 4-45502)


"How Hard It Is" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) How Hard It Is   (David Getz - Sam Andrew) - . 4:16

2.) You've Been Talkin' 'Bout Me Baby   (Ray Rivera) -  3:26

3.) House On Fire   (David Getz - L. Rappaport) - 3:54 

4.) Black Widow Spider   (Sam Andrew) - 3:33

5.) Last Band On Side One (instrumental)   (Sam Andrew - Roscoe) - 2:06


(side 2)
1.) Nu Boogaloo Jam   (Sam Andrew - Dan Nudleman) - 

2.) Maui (instrumental)   (Sam Andrew - Roscoe) - 

3.) Shien On   (Peter Albin - Sam Andrews - Dave Getz) - 

4.) Buried Alive In the Blues   (Nick Graventies) - 

5.) Promise Her Anything But Give Her Arpeggio (instrumental)   (David Schallock) -