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Cheap Thrills
List Price: $11.98

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Product Description

One of the most eagerly awaited albums in rock history, Big Brother & the Holding Company's 1968 major label debut (they'd previously released one thinly produced collection on the small Mainstream label) made good on all the hype generated by Janis Joplin's amazing performance at the Monterey Pop Festival the year before. Crowned by its hit single, a churning remake of Aretha Franklin's sister Erma's "Piece of My Heart," the album also contained Joplin's Monterey showstopper, Big Mama Thornton's "Ball and Chain," as well as the Gershwin classic "Summertime," on which Joplin's always underappreciated band (especially guitarists Sam Andrews and James Gurley) match her vocal intensity with their own ferocious playing. This expanded reissue includes two previously unissued outtakes ("Roadblock" and "Flower in the Sun") and a couple of heretofore unheard live cuts ("Catch Me Daddy" and "Magic of Love"), all from 1968. --Billy Altman

Customer Reviews:

  • Big Brother & Holding Co.
    Not what I expected. Even though I listened to some of the music before ordering, I expected a dif. sound on some of the recordings. Every song is about the same...screaming....more info
  • Four gentlemen and one great, great broad...
    That's what the announcer says at the beginning of this live/studio masterpiece... and for good reason because what follows is a stunning example of blues-rock singing at its very best. But there's a lot more on offer here than just the album that catapulted Janis Joplin to international stardom. First off the band, in particular James Gurley & Sam Andrews' guitarwork, lay down some seriously impressive playing that's not only up to the task of keeping pace with the emotional rollercoaster that she's got going but which provides the perfect and arguably "never to be beaten" backdrop for her raw, incredibly powerful vocals. Then there's the quality and range of the songs themselves (other than the unnecessary, second rate bonus tracks) including the hippy enthusiasm of "Combination of the Two", the driving acid-rock of "Sweet Mary" & "I Need a Man to Love", and the quite outstanding electric blues of "Summertime", "Piece of my Heart" & "Ball & Chain". And finally, the whole style of the album with it's quintessential Robert Crumb artwork, its atmospheric, often heavily reverbed sound, the enthusiastic audience reaction and the announcer's wonderfully laid-back contributions, all of which combine to capture what San Francisco's hugely influential ballroom scene was all about. A perfect time capsule that stands the test of time because it's more than good enough to and which, on the way, showcases a truly great singer on absolutely top form....more info
  • Janis Joplin defined -- her BEST album!
    I'll spare you all the technical details to just say that THIS is the Janis Joplin album that you want if you are only going to own one of her recordings.

    Here, you'll get the true, raw Janis Joplin with the band that matched her best of all. The know-it-alls at the studios were always trying to separate her from Big Brother and the Holding Company, supposedly because they were not "professional" enough. Bullcrap!

    This is the single beauty of retrospect. This compendium of her songs simply blows "Pearl" away. Her later bands and releases were WAY too superficial and polished to achieve the great rock guttral ambiance that Big Brother yielded.

    Just take a listen to "I Need A Man to Love" -- the opening will give you a sense of the entire work. It just bowls me over every time I hear it. I've been a rock guitar player for 40 years and Big Brother did some fine work... and Janis was the perfect complement to their Woodstock-era excellence.

    Buy this one -- you'll not be disappointed.

    See my "listmania lists" for more great Classic Rock recommendations....more info
  • Janis' Best Work
    As Janis' first mainstream outing, I believe that this album is the finest of her career. You can feel the enthusiasm between the band personnel in the all out "balls to the wall" drive of the music.
    Done before the influence of the monied producers, you will hear a miracle. Artists doing what they love....more info
  • Vintage Janis - need anyone say more?
    I have the original album and was concerned that maybe the CD wouldn't measure up in audio quality - not the case at all! It is a great quality and Janis's vocals sound almost like they did in person all those years ago!...more info
  • Janis at her best
    This is a replacement for my original cd that skipped on one of
    the tracks. The extra tracks were a pleasant bonus. ...more info
  • Five Stars Doesn't Do It Justice
    I used to be under the impression that this whole album was live. I recently found out that only a few of the songs are live, the rest were done in the studio.
    This album is one of the greatest blues/rock albums ever made. I still don't consider Janis to be the greatest female vocalist ever (I give that honor to Grace Slick), but she really blew me away with this one. What's more, Sam Andrew and James Gurley really blew me away with their devastating guitar licks. After all, Gurley isn't called 'The Father Of Psychedelic Guitar' for nothing.
    "Combination Of The Two" is a prime slice of breathless, fiery rock 'n roll that puts me in a state of euphoria whenever I hear it. This song is Sam Andrew's tribute to the rock arenas of San Francisco, namely the Fillmores and The Avalon Ballroom. Sam sings it, and Janis does all those cool "whoa-whoa-whoa" chants that should get your blood pumping in no time. And if it doesn't, then the solo from James Gurley will definitely get it pumping. It starts out as a wall of fuzztone, and then he builds it to a grand climax where he keeps laying into those high notes like a madman. THIS is rock 'n roll, I'm tellin' you. "I Need A Man To Love" is also breath-taking, mainly because of the "Can't be now, can't be now..." vocal refrain, where Janis keeps chanting it over and over as the rest of the band fervently builds up the tension behind her. Wow! And then there's the emotional masterpiece "Summertime", resplendent with Sam Andrew's soaring, passionate leads and Janis giving a superb vocal performance. The famous "Piece Of My Heart" has become a legendary Joplin song. And it's not hard to see why, with Sam Andrew's blistering, almost orgasmic solo (the way he nails those high notes always leaves me totally amazed). And what can I say about "Turtle Blues", a song that easily rivals ANY of those old blues masters? Suffice it to say that it's probably my favorite song on the album, and sometimes I literally cry because IT'S SO FRIGGIN' GOOD.
    "Oh Sweet Mary" is a haunting, eerie piece of work that practically send chills down the listener's spine, while the legendary "Ball And Chain" is presented here in stunning form. The distortion that Gurley uses in his solo is so powerful that it almost sounds like an Earthquake crushing everything in it's path. This is the song that made Janis a star when she performed it at the Monterey Pop Festival.

    It's a shame that Janis left us at such a young age. Had she lived, there's no telling how illustrious her career would've turned out to be. Thankfully, we still have the music to remember her. And this album captures her spirit better than any other....more info

  • As passionate as blues rock ever got
    I bought this album when it first came out on vinyl and practically wore it out inside of three months. That same year I saw the band play live at Alexandria Roller Rink outside Washington DC. The Jeff Beck Group (with Rod Stewart on vocals and Ron Wood on bass, but that's another story) opened for Big Brother and it was a great show. As Janis came off stage left I was waiting there, and slipped her a half-pint bottle of Southern Comfort. She giggled 'thank you' and gave me a quick peck on the cheek.

    So you could say I'm a major fan. I'd give it 5 stars except that even though I loved Janis, I always thought the guitar work in BB was crap. Would love to have heard Janis backed by guitarists of the calibre of Jerry Miller (Moby Grape) or Barry Melton (Country Joe & The Fish). Jerry in particular could get just as psychedelic as Sam Andrews etc but at least play in tune and not flub scales; plus he could really play the blues. At the time this album first came out I had been playing electric guitar about three years, and even then I knew it was bad playing.

    Still this is the Joplin's best so if you only want one Joplin disc in your collection, this is the one to have....more info

  • Oh, Sweet Janis!
    I purchased this album based solely on my chance Internet listening of "Flower in the Sun," and could not have been more pleased with the extras I got with it. "Turtle Blues" is one of those swanky, sensual songs I've always associated with smoky dives. This album's version of "Ball and Chain" is nothing short of shocking in its power and ability to convey the intensity of the lyrics. "Combination of the Two," sung with Big Brother and the Holding Company's other vocalist is a fun, rollicking departure from the customary soul flavor Janis brought to her work. Big Brother's loud, questionable talent was enhanced by Janis. She brought a unique style, a carefree persona and a gritty, matchless voice to her efforts. I feel sad that her light was extinguished so soon and that, at 26, I never got a chance to experience her live.

    The modern-day radio princesses like Avril, J-Lo and Britney could learn alot from Janis Joplin: sing it with feeling and tell what you've lived through. An A+ album from a truly amazing woman....more info

  • Janis at her best
    To bad that most people have never heard Janis singing the classic song 'Summertime.' The soul and emotion in that song is classic blues at its BEST! And the rest of the album only confirms that Janis and Big Brother were a once in a time magical musical experience that will never be equaled in intensity and pure performance quality!!!!...more info
  • Janis Joplin Takes No Prisoners With "Cheap Thrills."
    Dying young may be a good career move for a rock star, but it precludes any possibility of cashing in on that one last comeback tour. Janis Joplin became an icon and celebrated public figure in August of 1968, immediately after this album, "Cheap Thrills" was released and was dead three short years later. She didn't even live long enough to pay off advances from Columbia Records against future royalties. In the long run, Columbia Records was the primary beneficiary of Janis Joplin's premature death. Her record label has made a fortune from repackaging her catalog as deluxe boxed sets and anthologies over the years. It's ironic because no deluxe Columbia product has distilled the pure undiluted essence of Janis as much as this humble debut album.

    For all its ragged glory, "Cheap Thrills" endures as the best showcase of Janis Joplin's extraordinary singing talent. Among the songs are the chart topping R&B classic "Piece of my Heart", the funky rhythm driven "Combination of the Two", a raw and soulful recasting Gershwin jazz classic "Summertime" and Janis' signature tune the show stopping "Ball and Chain."

    A number of music critics took aim at Big Brother's musicianship and criticized the band as unprofessional and not up to par with Janis' talents. Janis, being young and riddled with insecurities, was wounded by the barbs. She left the band four short months after "Cheap Thrills." It's a shame, because Big Brother's ramshackle and reckless playing was uniquely attuned to the explosive dynamics of Joplin's "take-no-prisoners" approach to blues singing. She never found another group of musicians she bonded with like Big Brother. Her last album "Pearl" is technically better than "Cheap Thrills", but musical virtuosity is over-rated. Ask any hardcore fan of Janis and they will tell you that "Cheap Thrills" is the first CD they'll grab when their house is burning down....more info
  • Hot mama
    Cheap thrills brought Janis into the limelight.Her raspy vocals added new dimension to the blues and the classic love song.If you like 60's music or you like Janis's music, this is a must have!!!...more info
  • What can I add, except...
    that this is one of the best boudoir albums of all time (I wish I could be less euphemistic, but I don't want to be censored). This was released the year I was born, so it's not a question of nostalgia for me; something about Janis' ragged growl just makes me feel like a woman. Go figure....more info
  • Just amazing
    Let's just take Turtle Blues. No bass, no drums, just one guitar, a wonderful piano, Janis and some bar noises. It's gotta be one of the best blues performances on record. If you are new to Janis, this is a very accessible place to start.

    Let's think about San Francisco in 1968, saying "How about a nice Gershiwn standard from Porgy and Bess?" It was a pretty outrageous thing to do, and they pulled it off in Summertime.

    Ball and Chain is heart wrenching. Check out Big Mama Thorton's version, too. Both great.

    For me, those are the enduring highlights, after the Filmore guitars have faded into history. Yes, this was a great guitar band, too. But they did something unique and enduring with the blues. ...more info
  • Earsplitting
    It must be age, but this is harsh music. I understand why Janice had to do drugs....more info
  • Best Album I Own
    I say it a lot, but this time I really mean it when I tell friends, "Dude, you have to buy this cd, it's pretty much the best thing I own."
    How do you begin to describe Janis Joplin? Raspy? Drug Addict? Check and check, but there is sooooo much more beyond that facade that some people can't get over.
    Her music gives me chills. Upon listening to "Turtle Blues" "Summertime" and "Ball and Chain" my natural reaction was to close my eyes and feel every note being sung.
    The amazing thing about this album is that every note is powerful, yet has a surreal sort of vulnerability to it.
    In short, it totally is worth the money spent and more....more info
  • An angel with a dirty face

    Seeing Janis Joplin in concert on her best nights one could see that this being wasn't quite human. Despite her famous reputation of overindulgence in booze, sex and drugs Janis was in someway the closest thing we have seen to an angel in modern times.
    What can be said about Cheap Thrills that has not already been said? It is a classic and one of the best records of the 60s decade.
    Janis puts heart and soul in every one of these songs.
    But it is not all Janis that makes these songs what they are. The sometimes underrated Big Brother and the Holding Company truly has it s moments of brilliance on this album.
    Janis died young but left not only a musical legacy but a legacy to the human spirit.
    This album is a must have for any fan of modern music....more info