The Dave Getz Breakaway. Odds are better than even that you’ve never heard of the band unless you live in Marin County in California. You will know Dave’s first band of notoriety, Big Brother and the Holding Company, for which he began playing drums for back in the 60’s.
He was with the band as they began to make a name and a following for themselves in the idyllic, flower power days in San Francisco. He was there when an unknown girl from south Texas wandered into the band’s life and worked her way in as their lead singer.
The girl? Janis Joplin. The rest, as they say, is history.
As you’ll read in the interview with Dave Getz (here), the title song from the album were lyrics that she gave to Dave after hearing a riff that he was playing in a rehearsal studio. Not long after giving him the lyrics, she left the band for a solo career and an untimely death.
The lyrics remained unrecorded until now, with two renditions of the tune: one opening the album and the other closing it. In between those two gems of the same song is a rich tapestry of musicianship from Big Brother mates Sam Andrew, Peter Albin and the late James Gurley. The vocals are provided mostly by the incredible Kathi McDonald as well as Andra Mitrovich, Sonny Walker and Lyn Asher.
If you’re looking for “Son of Big Brother” project, forget it. While the work of BBHC stands on its own, this work by Getz is excellent in its own right and gives the legendary drummer plenty to be proud of.
In addition to the title song, the album has plenty of tunes that are sure to give the listener plenty of very pleasant earworms. The smooth moving More, with lyrics written by Sam Andrew, displays subtle but intricate musicianship and vocals that will mesmerize the discriminating ear.
The bluesy Borderline (The Show Goes On) conjures up visions of a smoky bar and a seasoned band providing the perfect backdrop to the beautiful pipes of Andra Mitrovich. It won’t surprise me one bit to learn that Nora Jones picks this song up for a future project. I’m just sayin’.
Next in the line up is the smooth-jazz sounds of Blue Tears. Getz proves his diverse musical ability by not only providing great work on the skins but on keyboards as well. The guitar work offered up by Tom Finch is outstanding, reminding me of some of the jazz licks by Phil Keaggy that I’ve enjoyed over the years.
She Come In Dancing is an easy-listening instrumental delights the ears, making you wish that it would never stop. The blues creeps back in with House On Fire, delivered once again by Kathi McDonald. I can listen to her beautiful, bluesy voice all day long. Her voice is connected at the soul with the guitar work of Chris Collins and organist Peter Penhallo. This is one of those songs that just “is”. I love it!
Another instrumental jewel follows by way of Dark Song. While the musicianship is great on this tune, I was especially struck by the bass work of Scott Thompson as well as the excellent drumming by Getz. I find myself putting this song on “repeat” almost every time I listen to it.
The Sade-like Waiting For You is positioned as the perfect follow-up to Dark Song. Soothing and relaxing, the compelling lyrics draw the mind to be engaged deeper than at just an audible level.
Heavning is another beautiful instrumental that I love working or relaxing to. The tune will clear your mind to focus on the task at hand or, if you’re just relaxing while listening to this tune, your mind will be taken to lands far away.
Trail of Tears showcases the experimental guitar work of former Big Brother lead guitarist, James Gurley, who passed away last December. Tears provides the album a unique and pleasant twist. It’s sad to know that the world will never get to see this performed in a live setting by the Big Brothers. Rest in peace, James.
The album closes with a more upbeat version of the title song, again sung be the incredible Kathi McDonald. Don’t get me to lyin’ by asking me which version I like the best. They’re both great.
Can’t Be The Only One is a must have for your music library for so many reasons but mainly because it’s just a great album to listen to. But don’t take my word for it. Download it now and listen for yourself.