Thursday, January 24, 2008

No. 338: Cheap Thrills

Band: Big Brother and the Holding Company
Album: Cheap Thrills
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Janis Joplin remains a boomer icon and this album was the first to showcase her voice.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The album isn't much more than blues rock with a great singer.
Best song: "Piece of My Heart" is pretty good. Their version of "Summertime" is good.
Worst song: "Ball and Chain" is too long.
Is it awesome?: Nope.

At what point does this list just become pointless hero worship? Joplin's voice is great, but she's a greatest hits artist, at most.

The inclusion of this album on here is either based on the over-love for the San Francisco scene or the fact that R. Crumb did a badass album cover. I'm hoping it's the latter.

1 comment:

fft said...

I never liked this one either. RS apparently didn't like it in their original review:

Well, it's a real disappointment. After all the hoopla of signing with Columbia, using one of the best producers in the business and the well-spread reviews of dozens of limp-limbed and sweaty-brow reviewers who have seen Big Brother and Holding Company in performance, one would expect slightly more than what we have gotten.

The title, Cheap Thrills, (shortened from Dope, Sex and Cheap Thrills) is an appropriate one, for that is to a great extent what this record has to offer. What this record is not is 1) a well-produced, good rock and roll recording; 2) Janis Joplin at her highest and most intense moments; and 3) better than the Mainstream record issued last year.

The record is a good representation of Big Brother and the Holding Company, as good a one as could have been expected and as good a one as there ever will be. It is also a fair approximation of the San Francisco scene in all its loud, exciting, sloppy glory, and for those who groove to it, the record should be adequate.

John Simon, who was signed to produce the album, but who did not have his name listed as producer, feels that this album is as good as the band and that's about it. In fact, he likes the Mainstream LP better.

The fault here, dear listeners, lies in the stars, not in ourselves. (RS 17)