Big Brother and The Holding Co. With Janis Joplin Cheap Thrills Numbered Hybrid SACD
Quintessential 1968 Record a Potent Mix of Psychedelia, Blues, Folk, and Rock: Janis Joplin Delivers Cathartic Vocal Performance on Major-Label Debut That Includes Powerhouse "Piece of My Heart"
Mobile Fidelity Hybrid SACD Touts Excellent Spaciousness, Punchiness, Dynamics, and Texture: Cheap Thrills Sounds As Close to Live as Music Gets and Features Robert Crumb Artwork
Ranked #338 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time List: Big Brother and Joplin Convey Fearlessness, Toughness, and Synergy on Every Note
In many facets, Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills is the quintessential album to spring from the outcome of the Summer of Love. Best known as Janis Joplin's major-label debut, the 1968 set arrived when the countercultural movement was in full swing and before co-optation, drugs, and violence signaled the fall of the era.
Ranked #338 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, it puts a female singer in the prominent position traditionally given to a male and showcases a band pouring a potent cocktail of fiery psychedelic, blues, and folk sounds that informed the unfettered creativity of the San Francisco scene. Produced by John Simon, Cheap Thrills also features one of the most iconic and elaborate album covers in history. Now, thanks to Mobile Fidelity, the instantly identifiable effort also possesses sonics equivalent to its visual and musical status.
The iconic audiophile label's SACD reissue intensifies the quintet's storied sophomore effort, enhancing airiness, punch, energy, pacing, and dynamics. Joplin's hurricane-force singing reverberates with texture, grittiness, and volume. An arresting array of instrumental colors and tones comes on with clearer separation and depth. While previous pressings find the band and Joplin's voice in competition with one another for room, both emerge as distinct entities. Always noted for its rawness, Cheap Thrills sounds as close to live as it gets, an unadulterated portrait of nervy rock n' roll delivered with exuberant enthusiasm and all-out determination. This is music at is most visceral.
Having drawn national attention for their legendary performance at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, Big Brother and Joplin faced huge expectations to deliver a studio set that would convey their onstage vibrancy and potency.
Indeed, Cheap Thrills still exhilarates not only due to Joplin's almighty singing but because of boundary-shredding arrangements that reflect the period's anything-is-possible mindset. More so than any other musicians Joplin encountered, the members of Big Brother pushed limits on convention via soirees into acid-dipped psychedelia and its orbiting sonic galaxies.
Together, they aim and achieve an aural mythos that makes a permanent connection between artist and audience by way of eliminating traditional divisions. Such communal power is evident on the mind-bending version of Big Mama Thornton's "Ball and Chain" and insistent, sinewy "I Need a Man to Love."
It's also obvious during quieter moments, whether the tripped-out, twisted, and curvaceous contours of George and Ira Gershwin's "Summertime" or restrained, throwback acoustic blues of "Turtle Blues." Yes, Joplin presents – and rallies against – loneliness and desperation in a cathartic language few had heard before or since. What's even more significant is the fearlessness, toughness, synergy, and sexual danger pulsing through every song, including the take-on-all-comers challenge "Piece of My Heart," which the collective attacks with career-making ferocity.
Big Brother and the Holding Co. Cheap Thrills Track Listing:
1. Combination of the Two
2. I Need a Man to Love
4. Piece of My Heart
5. Turtle Blues
6. Oh, Sweet Mary
7. Ball and Chain