on 10 August 2001
This is West Coast psychedelia at its best - and recorded live. Janis belts them out but don't underestimate the power of those twin guitars from Sam Andrew and Jim Gurley. They're transendental at time, climactic at others - hammering away as the perfect foil for those screaming rasping vocals. It's improvised at times but everyone knows where each other is and where they're going. Then it all comes back together behind Dave's drums right on cue and into the next section. The bonus tracks are a bonus too - certainly not just fillers. Okay, so 'Piece of my Heart' and 'Ball and Chain' are the stand out tracks but I love 'Sweet Mary'- partly because Janis doesn't have the feature vocal but mainly for the soaring meandering guitar work and the oh so archetypal sixties hippy sound.
Rest your soul Janis. When I listen to this and the early stuff I gotta believe your happiest years were when you were in a gigging band. The later stuff's good but it's orchestrated and produced and somehow lacking. This is raw, earthy, full of passion, a sense of being and togetherness. Big Brother are still gigging and play an excellent set if you see them on tour. Certainly worth checking out as they're usually at affordable and intimate venues. Seminal stuff.
Cheap Thrills is a great, raucous, exuberant celebration of life with Joplin's at times desperate, always intensely emotional vocals and the enthusiastic playing of Big Brother in their powerful acid rock/psychedelic onslaught. Piece Of My Heart sweeps the listener along in its maelstrom of sound, while Combination Of The Two has a certain addictive, hypnotic quality that is the trademark of great rock music. Summertime and Ball & Chain are innovative interpretations of the Gershwin and Big Mama Thornton tunes respectively, while of the added tracks, Magic of Love is the only one that matches the intensity of the original album's songs. Because of the Big Brother onslaught, it does sometimes seem that there's a cosmic battle taking place between Joplin's vocals and the band's wall of sound, but this creates a further element of tension that adds to the overall force of these performances. This is a great show of Joplin's magic.
on 11 June 2005
That's what the announcer says at the beginning of this live/studio masterpiece... and for good reason because what follows is an outstanding example of blues-rock singing at its very best. But there's a lot more on offer here than just the touchstone that catapulted Janis Joplin to international stardom. First off, the band, in particular James Gurley's guitarwork, lay down some seriously impressive playing that's not only fully up to the task of keeping pace with her but which provides the perfect backdrop for her raw, stunningly 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 itself 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.
on 18 May 2004
This is an example of the heavey blues influence on the San Fransisco music at the time. Dominated by Janis Joplin's frightening voice and the screaming guitar of James Gurley, Cheap Thrills invites you on an epic of energetic, predominantly blues numbers. The first track: Combination of the two,for me the highlight of the album, is a real rocker that eptomises the San Fransiscan rock vibe of the time, with awesome whoa whoa chants by Janis. Other blues tracks such as Summertime have a very psychedelic sound (James Gurley = father of psychedelic guitar) and showcase the talent of Janis's voice.(Although second to Grace).
Buyers looking for one of the most prominent (with good reason) acid-rock albums of the era cannot let this one slip!
Janis Joplin is totally electrifying on this album, which also gives the band Big Brother and the Holding Company quite a lot of space, as you hear on the brilliant intro number, Combination Of The Two. The whole thing has a very sixties feel, as others have said, but is also timeless in that her voice can never date - you only have to hear it to feel the emotion as if she was singing it right in the present. Her take on Summertime is unique, I Need A Man To Love just aches as only Janis can - just thinking about it is moving ... Piece Of My Heart is one of her greatest tracks, caught here in a superb version, while Ball And Chain is different from the Greatest Hits version and just as good, maybe a bit more weary in tone. With four extra tracks the album gives you more than the original LP, compensation for having Robert Crumb's brilliant cover reduced so much, perhaps? There are also several classic photos of Janis and the band; she was a particularly interesting subject because she had such candour, an almost child-like quality.
on 30 September 2011
Monterey 1967. Mama Cass Elliot is captured on film reacting open-mouthed to Janis and the boys ripping through Ball and Chain, Hurley's wailing SG sounding at once apocalyptic and soul reviving. Big Brother were an awesome band and this, for me, is Joplin's best work. The Full Tilt Boogie band don't come close. Cheap Thrills serves as a window on the late - sixties San Francisco scene, sure, but the music is timeless and visceral - essential.
"Cheap Thrills" (Exp) [Extra tracks, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered], is a live recording by Big Brother and the Holding Company, a psychedelic blues rock San Francisco-based band during the late 1960's. The record survives largely because of their great, great chick singer, Janis Joplin. Of course, Joplin fans will know that she did not, unfortunately, survive the 1970's, as she passed on October 4, 1970 (aged 27), in Los Angeles, California. But in her brief career, despite her troubled life, she left behind a stunning, gutsy repertory of work that has long since floated free of, and outlived, Big Brother.
This record, although made rather early in her all-too short career, functions almost as a best-of: it's got a number of her biggest hits on it, including "Combination of the Two," "I Need a Man to Love," "Summertime," "Piece of My Heart," and "Ball and Chain," all delivered thrillingly, and in her trademark growling/shouting style. Weren't very many female blues shouters in her day. It also conveys the excitement of the live performance.
I actually somehow managed to see Joplin live, with "Big Brother," performing this repertory, at a famous venue of the time, Bill Graham's Fillmore East, on New York's Lower East Side, when it really was pretty scrappy. (Graham also owned the even-more famous Fillmore West, located in SF, at the time.) All these years later, I still remember the expectant hush when the house lights went down, the sweet aroma of various illegal substances, and Joplin's electrifying performance. It was quite a night, I can tell you. But don't wish you could have been there yourself that would make you as old as me....
on 3 November 2012
This album is A Really good mix of music and that woman has a brilliant passionate Marge simpson voice.
There song range from cover to original of blues standards and things and I just love every single song on it.
the music itself is really rather good too. but it is the vocals that stand out Janis has the most awesomely passionate voice I have heard for along time. you feel every note she sings and it resonates too and makes you sing along.
on 11 November 2007
This is generally accepted as one of the top 500 albums of all time. Listen to it and find out why. Not only that, but the live album captures the band at it best.
on 16 December 2011
I've discussed this album with several other Janis fans, and we all agree this was her finest album. I own all her albums, and never again was she this raw and gutsy. whoever persuaded her to leave Big Brother has much to answer for. Discs like Kosmic and Pearl pale by comparison. This is the classic Janis Joplin album.