This is from Cheap Thrills, by Big Brother and the Hold­ing Com­pa­ny, fea­tur­ing Ja­nis Jo­plin. This song’s a band ef­fort with song­writ­ing cred­its to all the mem­ber­s; Ja­nis is not front and cen­ter. I’m not sure it’s the best per­for­mance on the al­bum  —  you’d re­al­ly have to give that to Ball and Chain  —  but it’s maybe the best-written song. And it’s a hell of a per­for­mance: Hard, melo­di­ous, well-crafted rock and rol­l.

Cheap Thrills

Cheap Thrills is not ac­tu­al­ly a live al­bum; the crowd noise is syn­thet­i­cal­ly in­sert­ed. It’s spe­cial be­cause it rep­re­sents the peak per­for­mance of Big Brother as a group and Ja­nis Jo­plin per­son­al­ly. They were not re­al­ly as good a band as they sound on this col­lec­tion.

Ja­nis was that good a singer, but none of the mu­si­cal di­rec­tions she ex­plored in the few short years be­tween this record and her drink­ing/­drug­ging her­self to death worked out quite as well as this crazed, ec­stat­ic ap­proach. If she’d lived, she would have climbed way high­er, I’m sure. Fuck hero­in.

Oh, Sweet Mary is two-thirds min­i­mal­ist gui­tar in­stru­men­tal; there are a cou­ple of vers­es sung by one of the males in the band, some meticulously-placed howls and har­monies from Janis, and a lop­ing, driv­ing rhythm sec­tion push­ing the song along ev­ery sec­ond. Real­ly fine stuff.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on iTunes, Ama­zon, Spo­ti­fy. There’s no de­cent live video that I can find.


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From: blake (May 28 2018, at 18:00)

Sir! "Combination of the Two" and "Summertime" are on that album!! "Oh, Sweet Mary" is the best writing? Feh!


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May 28, 2018
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