Cheap Thrills

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For other uses, see Cheap Thrills (disambiguation).
Cheap Thrills
Studio album by Big Brother and the Holding Company
Released August 12, 1968
Recorded March 2 – May 20, 1968
Live recordings: March 8 at the Fillmore East
Genre Psychedelic rock, acid rock, blues rock
Length 37:11 (Original)
54:59 (CD reissue)
Label Columbia
Producer John Simon
Big Brother and the Holding Company chronology
Big Brother & the Holding Company
(1967)
Cheap Thrills
(1968)
Be a Brother
(1970)
Janis Joplin chronology
Big Brother & the Holding Company
(1967)
Cheap Thrills
(1968)
I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
(1969)

Cheap Thrills is the second album from Big Brother and the Holding Company and their last with Janis Joplin as primary lead vocalist. In 2003, the album was ranked #338 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Record history[edit]

Big Brother obtained a considerable amount of attention after their 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival and had released their debut album soon after. Cheap Thrills was a great success, hitting #1 on the charts for eight nonconsecutive weeks in 1968. Columbia Records offered the band a new recording contract, but it took months to get through since they were still signed to Mainstream Records.[1] The album features three cover songs ("Summertime", "Piece of My Heart" and "Ball and Chain"). The album also features Bill Graham, who introduces the band at the beginning of "Combination of the Two". "Ball and Chain" is the only song on the album recorded entirely live, and even though the cover credits assert that the live material was recorded at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium, it was actually taken from a concert at the Winterland Ballroom in 1968. The album's overall raw sound effectively captures the band's energetic and lively concerts. The LP was released in both stereo and mono formats with the monophonic pressing now a rare collector's item. The album had been considered for quadraphonic format in the early 70's and eventually in 2002, was released as a Multichannel Sony SACD. The original quadraphonic mix remains unreleased.

Cover and title[edit]

The cover was drawn by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb after the band's original cover idea, a picture of the group naked in bed together, was dropped by the record company. Crumb had originally intended his art for the LP back cover, with a portrait of Janis Joplin to grace the front. But Joplin—an avid fan of underground comics, especially the work of Crumb—so loved the Cheap Thrills illustration that she demanded Columbia Records place it on the front cover. It is number nine on Rolling Stone's list of one hundred greatest album covers.

In at least one early edition, the words "HARRY KRISHNA! (D. GETZ)" are faintly visible in the word balloon of the turbaned man, apparently referring to a track that was dropped from the final sequence. The words "ART: R. CRUMB" replace them.

Initially, the album was to be called Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills, but the title was not received well by Columbia Records.[2]

A variation of the title on the cover is used as the logo for the Cheap Thrills record label, owned by British DJ Hervé.

Success and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone (unfavorable)[3]

The album was released in the summer of 1968, one year after their debut album, and reached #1 on the Billboard charts in its eighth week in October. It kept the #1 spot for eight (nonconsecutive) weeks while the single, "Piece of My Heart", also became a huge hit. By the end of the year it was the most successful album of 1968, having sold nearly a million copies. The success was short-lived however, as Joplin left the group for a solo career in December 1968. In 2003, the album was ranked #338 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[4] They previously ranked it #50 on their Top 100 Albums of the Past 20 Years list in 1987.[5] It is often regarded as one of the key recordings of the late 1960s. It is also listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[6] On March 22, 2013, the album was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and thus it was preserved into the National Recording Registry for the 2012 register.

Outtakes originally to have appeared on the album have since been released on Janis Joplin compilations such as Farewell Song (In which Big Brother's original instruments were replaced with studio musicians from 1983, angering the band) and the Janis compilation box set featuring all original studio songs and live recordings. The 1999 re-release of Cheap Thrills features the outtakes "Flower in the Sun" and "Roadblock" as well as live performances of "Magic of Love" and "Catch Me Daddy" as bonus material.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Combination of the Two"   Sam Andrew 5:47
2. "I Need a Man to Love[7]"   Andrew, Janis Joplin 4:54
3. "Summertime"   George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward 4:01
4. "Piece of My Heart"   Bert Berns, Jerry Ragovoy 4:15
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Turtle Blues"   Joplin 4:22
2. "Oh, Sweet Mary"   Peter Albin, Andrew, David Getz, James Gurley, Joplin 4:16
3. "Ball and Chain"   Big Mama Thornton 9:02

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1968 Billboard Pop Albums (Billboard 200) 1

Sales certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[8] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Big Brother & the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  2. ^ Hardin, John (September 15, 1972). "Big Brother and the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Hardin, John (14 September 1968). "Records". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone: 338 | Cheap Thrills – Big Brother and the Holding Company. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the Last 20 Years". Rolling Stone Lists. rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael (2006). Dimery, Robert, ed. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  7. ^ Janis Joplin interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  8. ^ "American album certifications – Janis Joplin – Cheap Thrills". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Preceded by
Time Peace: The Rascals' Greatest Hits by The Rascals
Billboard 200 number-one album
October 12 – November 15, 1968
November 30 – December 20, 1968
Succeeded by
Electric Ladyland
by Jimi Hendrix Experience