Album Review: “Cheap Thrills” By Big Brother & the Holding Co.
Cheap Thrills album cover - TV LIVE PLAY / Youtube
Janis Joplin’s skyrocket to superstardom wasn’t a one-man mission – as it was launched by Big Brother & the Holding Co., especially (and ironically) with the release of Cheap Thrills, which was Joplin’s swansong out of the band. 1967’s Monterey Pop fest was their claim to fame, but armed only with an anemic debut album to back them up, the band had to make good with their second shot in producing a new record.
Just getting signed on with Columbia Records after a messy legal debacle with their previous label, Mainstream Records, Big Brother & The Holding Co. was immediately put to the test by Columbia by taping their tour performances. It didn’t hold up to the expectation of both parties, however, which prompted the band to go in the studio with producer John Simon to craft a new record. Simon’s brought in that live performance vibe in the album that made Cheap Thrills such a raw experience to listen to.
“Piece of My Heart” was and will remain to be such a timeless classic from the likes of Joplin, her vocal prowess spanning decades, and is yet to be rivaled. “Summertime” was reinvented from the traditional George Gershwin original into a rocking number that quite frankly, none would have done better. Apart from the album’s searing cuts, tracks like “Turtle Blues” go easy and shows the band’s ability to simmer down no matter the heat of the moment.
Cheap Thrills is such a musical timepiece that featured Joplin in the best of her abilities, as well as Big Brother & the Holding Company playing alongside her to deliver one of the most authentic rock records in history.