When you listen to Cheap Thrills you may, if you’re anything like me, have been tricked into believing this was a live album. It’s not just the audience noise that they put into the mix, although that does put the thought into your head, but there is also the energy that is injected into many of the songs.
The centrepiece of the album is, undoubtedly, ‘Piece of My Heart‘. Janis Joplin’s amazing set of pipes gives so much emotion and attitude to this song that it forces you to pay attention to it. There’s also a fantastic rocky interpretation of ‘Summertime’ from Porgy and Bess.
I don’t know if it’s Joplin’s raw power or because of her untimely demise at the age of 27, but it really does feel that Cheap Thrills is as good as it is because of her. Sure, it makes for an interesting time capsule of where psychedelic and blues rock was before the heavier stuff started to kick in a few years later – but what carries it up the rankings and keeps it noteworthy is the personality. Also, the excellent (if slightly racist) album artwork helps.
One more album after this and I will be able to (temporarily) say sayonara to the 1960s. Sure, a future update might kick this, and the other remaining album from the sixties, off the list. Then again, I want to extend this list at some point so it’s not as if listening to these albums will go to waste. Especially not when I end up actually enjoying them.