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The Essential Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin

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Album Review

Columbia has managed to squeeze an impressive, perhaps excessive, number of compilations out of Janis Joplin's relatively slim body of recordings. With this two-CD set, The Essential Janis Joplin, the label's at it again, though it's a good one to get if you don't want to collect all the Joplin releases, and certainly don't want to get the expensive Joplin boxes, but want more than what fits onto a single disc. Including both solo recordings and highlights of her stint with Big Brother & the Holding Company, it has all the songs fans and critics would consider milestones in her career: "Ball and Chain" (a version recorded live in 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival, not the more familiar one from Cheap Thrills), "Piece of My Heart," "Down on Me," "Summertime," "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," "Tell Mama" (the live 1970 performance from the expanded edition of Pearl), "Get It While You Can," "Mercedes Benz," and "Me and Bobby McGee." And there are also good tracks that aren't as overly familiar, like "Coo Coo," "Misery'n," "Maybe," "Work Me, Lord," and "A Woman Left Lonely." The substitution of the less familiar renditions of "Ball and Chain" and "Tell Mama" might rankle some consumers expecting to hear the more common ones, but that's frankly unlikely. So what does the set offer to those Joplin fans who already have a lot of her material? Well, not much, but in the time-honored manner of attaching bonus tracks to oft-recycled material, this does have a couple of previously unissued live cuts ("Kozmic Blues" and the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody") from her 1969 set at Woodstock. Those songs are actually reasonably good, but aren't worth buying the whole set for. They would have been a better deal if served out as part of a legit collection of her Woodstock performances, or as a collection of previously unreleased live Joplin performances, if enough high-caliber stuff of the sort was available.

Customer Reviews

What a voice

Recently I became interested in 60s rock and of course became one of the disciples of all the major bands (including the Beatles, who need to be represented here). Janis remains one of my favorites, a woman who knew how to rock and could outperform anyone. Her live songs are beautifully done, and the songs all have her distinctive touch, not just from her amazing voice. I recommend buying (if you can) the original records (I own 'Pearl' and WOW), but this is also a good buy, I own it as well, and a great chance to experience the rock legend who laid the foundations for other rock performers...and not just female ones! My favorites are 'Summertime', 'Me and Bobby McGee', 'Ball and Chain', 'Get It While You Can', and 'Piece of My Heart', but all are mindblowing! Janis was so fantastic!

Classic

I love Janis! Her voice sends shivers down my spine. I especially love Summertime and Mercedes Benz. She went too soon.

excellent collection of Ms Janis

Good mix of Live and studio edited. very inspirational woman. she certainly knows how to rock!

Biography

Born: January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

The greatest white female rock singer of the 1960s, Janis Joplin was also a great blues singer, making her material her own with her wailing, raspy, supercharged emotional delivery. First rising to stardom as the frontwoman for San Francisco psychedelic band Big Brother & the Holding Company, she left the group in the late '60s for a brief and uneven (though commercially successful) career as a solo artist. Although she wasn't always supplied with the best material or most sympathetic musicians,...
Full Bio
The Essential Janis Joplin, Janis Joplin
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  • $16.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Rock & Roll, Blues, Arena Rock, Psychedelic, Hard Rock, Blues-Rock
  • Released: Jan 13, 2003

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