04 Dec Rolling Stone Review: Sex, Dope, and Cheap Thrills
Read the entire 4-star review at Rolling Stone.
The new compilation, Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills, takes its title from the band’s original pitch for the name of the LP (the squares at the record label weren’t having it) and contains nearly two-and-a-half hours of alternate takes and live recordings from the Cheap Thrills era. Most of them are previously unreleased. The live recording of “Ball and Chain” sports a heavier beat and Joplin’s double-fried vocals — a stunning performance — followed by unreasonably polite applause. The three alternate takes of “Piece of My Heart” have a similar energy to the more familiar version, but show just how vibrant Joplin was at the sessions. And the second disc’s first take of “Summertime” captures a brilliant performance that would have been a thing of legend if the band hadn’t fallen apart at the end. Other standouts include the foot-stomping “How Many Times Blues Jam,” an extended, wailing take on “I Need a Man to Love” and a charging, soulful take of “Combination of the Two.” There’s also studio banter, like Joplin cackling gloriously and saying, “I knew it was gonna take us all night,” before the ninth take of the oddball “Harry” and three takes of “Turtle Blues” on which Joplin talks out the feel of the song.
Also notable are the liner notes. The Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick remembers Joplin as a vivacious, joyful force and the Big Brother band as having a “down home” vibe. Meanwhile, drummer Dave Getz offers lively accounts of making the album and working with illustrator Robert Crumb on its problematic, iconic cover – and how the latter was stolen only to be sold at auction for a quarter of a million dollars. It’s the Janis Joplin bonus content you never knew you wanted.