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Reviews: Big Brother & the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills

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Reviews: 7

Review by Tom June 3, 2003
Performance:   Sonics:
I've always liked Janis and have two LPs and several of her CDs, but for some reason, never bought this one.
I can understand why this CD was so popular. I have the Essential Janis CD which is very well recorded. The Cheap Thrills SACD is superior.
But sonically, the recording falls a little short. The vocals and instruments are a little soft and fuzzy.
There is a slight veil. Nice that two live bonus cuts were added.

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Review by tonymn July 25, 2003 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This SACD is a real disappointment to me. I wish I had seen some objective reviews before buying it. I only wish I could get my money back since the music industry has found a new way to rip off unsuspecting customers. They pass off crap like this as high quality and charge 3 to 4 dollars more. Don't get me wrong. I've purchased some great SACDs. The only way this is better than the cd is that it levels out her voice instead of making it sound like she is screeching. The quality is absolutely terrible if we are to consider what SACD is supposed to be, i.e. SUPER AUDIO. There is nothing super about the audio on this SACD.

Let the buyer beware! This is not an anomaly! There are numerous SACDs that have no right being sold for premium prices. The music industry wonders why many of us have lost respect for them and many artists! Listen to this garbage and you will know why.

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Review by theaudiohiffle August 24, 2003 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Have got to disagree with the gentlemen above, for on my system (five full range thiels and a SONY c333es in bypass mode, going straight into analog this disk is one of the most revealing 'surround" disks out there. When the disk opens, my room suddenly becomes electric with the subtle ambient cues of the live locations where most of this dis was recorded. The recroding itself is from the quad area, and whether deliberately or accidentally, the surround perspective is pretty much right in the middle of the band itself. Janis to the front, of course, but guitars right and left, piano off the the left, and the audience out front. I find the effect electrifying.

And what can you say about the album. This is *the* classic Big Brother album...even more so than Joplin's Pearl. If you can listen to Janis's classic, sweet, soaring "summertime" without sensing what the sixties where all about, then you are missing an experience. And the classic Turtle Blues is a reminder, if one is needed, of how much the blues influenced Rock 'n Roll. This is classic blues, transformed by Janis's raspy voice into a poignant lament probably lost on most of the kids listening.

There is also sheer fun on this CD arising from the live venues it was recorded in. On the final bonus cut one can hear the house announcer intoning that next week they will be hosting The Grateful Dead, and urging the attendees to drive safely...then the house pa system puts on church music (it was apparently early on a Sunday morning when the set ended).

I'm not sure what the other two reveiwers were listening on, but on my system the sound quality is excellent..its just that it is capturing an experimental blues-base band in live performance and is not a studio-perfect album. The fidelity is fine, too, and as I mentioned at the start with a really high-resolutions system such as mine you can actual hear/feel the "air" change when the recording starts.

One of my most treasured SACD's....of course I am of that certain age....

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Review by Khorn August 24, 2003 (1 of 1 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I guess I fall in between the audiohiffle's and the other two reviewers as far as the sound rating of this disc. I have heard that in this particular case that multichannel does add quite a bit to the presentation but, as a stereo only listener I can't really comment first hand.

When comparing against other recordings it certainly isn't in the top rank but that's not what we buy this disc for, its the performance. If you're a Janis fan then the performance rates right up there.

I do hope that 'I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!' makes it to SACD soon. I'll be first in line to buy it.

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Review by mukkachukka February 1, 2005 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
It can be argued that this disc contains THE finest vocal performance by a female rock singer. There has never been a rock singer since Janis Joplin who is as ELECTRIFYING as she herself was. And this is probably the crown jewel of her catalogue. A mixture of 1968 studio and live performances, Cheap Thrills is one of the classic rock albums of the 1960's.

This SACD is a big improvement over the old CD reissue. As has been stated before, the biggest improvement is in the sound of Janis' voice. The old CD made it sound very shrill, where this SACD enriches her vocals with a much warmer tone. "Summertime" has never sounded better! Great bass sound on this SACD also.

The 5.1 mix is really nice. Puts you right in the middle of the band. And the ambience created by the crowd noise and the announcer really enhance the "you're really there" feeling.

There's still, at times, some notable tape hiss on this recording, which is understandable when you take into account the era in which it was recorded.

Only 4 stars on the performance because of the inclusion of 4 inferior bonus tracks. I know I could program the SACD so it runs like the original album, or just stop it before the bonus tracks come on. But, that's not the point. The point is that record companies should stop detracting from the majesty of classic albums by throwing on inferior bonus tracks. I know some fans like them, but with the exception of The Who Sell Out and The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, I can't think of an album that has been enhanced by the inclusion of bonus tracks.

With all that being said, this SACD is well worth the money. I'm glad I picked it up.

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Review by sthebkrman February 14, 2005 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have to agree with TonyMN, sonically this SACD is pretty shabby. Every cut sounds live even though only two of them are. The extended feedback of the guitar on the one song (sorry for not knowing the name) is obnoxious and I'm a guitar player who likes feedback. Janis's voice just does not stick out like I think it should. It is usually overpowered by the rest of the band. I get the impression that the band thought they were the main event and Janis was just a singer. Out of all of my SACD's, I listen to this one the least.

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Review by Marpow June 4, 2015 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Big Brother & the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills, SACD Stereo/MCH.

What a treat for me to add this to my library. As a San Francisco person certain bands will forever remain part of my youth. Having seen Big Brother with Janis Joplin twice at Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, being all of 13 years old all this music was the seeds of my love for rock music. This disc and Quicksilvers Happy Trails are two of the same flavor.

Quick Facts: Part live, only last song Ball and Chain, and the remainder all studio album, added audience was to give impression of an all live album. Big Brothers 2nd album released in 1968. Janis Joplin's only Big Brother album. 2002 this multichannel disc was released.

Performance: Iconic, Rolling Stones 338 of 500 top albums of all time. For me having grown up on these tunes via SF radio KSAN and KMPX it was hard to not appreciate it. I think the sound that they achieved with lots of guitar echo and reverb really nailed the entire album sounding as it does. Joplin's voice sure doesn't hurt. But honestly I was always captivated by the two guitars of James Gurley and Sam Andrew's.
I don't remember hearing before the guitar feedback that goes on for awhile end of, Piece Of My Heart.

Stereo Sonics: Probably the best I have ever heard. The big, rich, echo, reverb sound, carries well into the stereo mix.

Multichannel Sonics: A 1968 recording, transferred to SACD multichannel in 2002. Are you looking for sonic perfection? My purchase was based on hearing a recording that I know well, a different way. The positives are the Live sound that they wanted to create in 68 is now here in all it's glory. Big and boomy a lot more listenable than earlier issues. Janis's vocals are mixed well in center. The rears sole purpose is to get the big ballroom echo and they do it perfectly. All the remix is pure ambiance only, no trickery. The negative which is not a negative, is that time cannot cover up the grit and grime of this recording, but I like it that way. It is not slick, it is real. If you break down the vocals and guitar solos, you have sonic bliss.

Packaging: Plastic jewel case. Four page mini booklet with David Getz liner notes. Original and reissue notes.

Extras: Four bonus tracks, previously unreleased, 2 studio, and 2 live from The Grande Ballroom, Detroit. The extra tracks are basically stereo but the rears are working. It is nice to have extras of Big Brother And The Holding Company with Janis Joplin.

Well, I think my stars are higher than others might think. This is like a child of mine that I am partial to so I give better stars.

I would like to hope that my equipment is better than reviews of over 10 years ago and maybe if the same reviewers with there, I am sure, new machines, might appreciate this disc more??

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