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iTunes Review

Janis Joplin’s short career was established with her blistering performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and this 1968 major label debut that had been delayed by contractual wranglings but nevertheless shot to the top of the charts and remains a career highlight for all involved. Joplin’s overwhelming emotionalism coupled with her San Franciscan backing band’s “acid rock” — essentially, the blues distorted and strung out with intense amplification — made for a lesson in sonic overkill. Producer John Simon, upset with the results, had his name pulled from the credits and the ensuing album, mostly a full frontal assault on the senses, was assembled from studio and live recordings. “Piece of My Heart” became Joplin’s immediate calling card, but it was the extended take on Big Mama Thorton’s “Ball and Chain” that best exemplified the Texas singer’s anxious, desperate and heartfelt pleas for understanding. Joplin was driven to push her voice to the extremes and “I Need A Man to Love” and “Oh, Sweet Mary” stagger with her bourbon-soaked voice that understood the blues as a sad, doomed road to self-destruction. The expanded edition adds two studio outtakes (“Roadblock,” “Flower in the Sun”) and two previously unreleased live tracks (“Catch Me Daddy,” “Magic of Love”).

Customer Reviews

Desert Island Discs

Almost 40 years later and this album would still easily be in those 10 CDs I could take to The Island. I have few regrets in life. One of them is that I never got a chance to see Janis Joplin live. :-( Wow!

Janice, we hardly knew ye...

Janice Joplin will always be a huge "what if" to the soul/blues fans. This potent album demonstrated what a high school pariah from Texas could do. She was probably the greatest white soul/blues singer on record. Big Brother and Janice split up after this album but Janice, after a tragic life apparently required for serious R&B singers, produced the album "Pearl," which was released shortly after her death (OD). Pearl is a work of art, but it lacks the raw, penetrating heart of "Cheap Thrills." If you're not familiar with Janice, listen just to "Summertime" and you will understand what we lost.

The title says it all...

For less than the price of going to a single movie, you can have the endless entertainment of Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Joplin's voice shatters through the air on Piece of My Heart and she sings with feeling throughout the rest of the album. For a big fan of Big Brother, the entire album is approriate. However, for the casual listener who simply wants to take a listen to one of the most revolutionary albums of the 60s, the original 7 tracks will do just fine.


Formed: 1965 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Big Brother are primarily remembered as the group that gave Janis Joplin her start. There's no denying both that Joplin was by far the band's most striking asset, and that Big Brother would never have made a significant impression if they hadn't been fortunate enough to add her to their lineup shortly after forming. But Big Brother also occupies a significant place in the history of San Francisco psychedelic rock, as one of the bands that best captured the era's loosest, reckless, and indulgent qualities...
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Cheap Thrills, Big Brother & The Holding Company
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