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Big Brother and the Holding Company's 'Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills' Gets Reissue

ROLLING STONE | Music Review
Althea Legaspi
September 18, 2018

Big Brother & the Holding Company‘s Cheap Thrills — Janis Joplin‘s breakout album and her final one with the band — will be reissued on November 30th via Columbia/Legacy Recordings. The 50th anniversary set will be released under its original title, Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills, which Columbia considered too controversial in 1968.

The new reissue revisits the 1968 sessions that produced the chart-topping Cheap Thrills and comprises alternate song takes. On the 2-CD edition (a different 2-LP edition will also be available), 25 of the 30 songs have never been previously released.

It also offers a new version of “Ball and Chain.” On the original Cheap Thrills, dubbed-in crowd noise was added to mimic a live album, despite “Ball and Chain” being the only track that was recorded at a concert. Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills includes an alternate live version of the song, which was taped at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom on April 12th, 1968.

The reissue features liner notes penned by Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and Big Brother & the Holding Company drummer Dave Getz.

Cheap Thrills seems to have stood the test of time,” Getz writes in the liner notes. “It might be because it is arguably the greatest work by a great artist, Janis Joplin. It is certainly the greatest and closest representation of what Big Brother & the Holding Company was as a band and I would add to that argument that Big Brother/Janis as a band, and as a SOUND, was the embodiment of the San Francisco, psychedelic, counter-culture of the 1960s.”

“On another, more metaphorical level and in the perspective created by the distance of 50 years, I see Cheap Thrills as a time capsule for the year 1968,” he adds. “That year might have been the moment when it all came to a boil for Big Brother, Janis and the entire 1960s, acid-infused, revved-to-the-max, counter-culture generation.”

Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills 2-CD Edition Track List

Disc One
1. “Combination of the Two” (Take 3)
2. “I Need a Man to Love” (Take 4)
3. “Summertime” (Take 2) *
4. “Piece of My Heart” (Take 6)
5. “Harry” (Take 10)
6. “Turtle Blues” (Take 4)
7. “Oh, Sweet Mary”
8. “Ball and Chain” (live, The Winterland Ballroom, April 12, 1968)
9. “Roadblock” (Take 1) *
10. “Catch Me Daddy” (Take 1)
11. “It’s a Deal” (Take 1) *
12. “Easy Once You Know How” (Take 1) *
13. “How Many Times Blues Jam”
14. “Farewell Song” (Take 7)

Disc Two
1. “Flower in the Sun” (Take 3)
2. “Oh Sweet Mary”
3. “Summertime” (Take 1)
4. “Piece of My Heart” (Take 4)
5. “Catch Me Daddy” (Take 9)
6. “Catch Me Daddy” (Take 10)
7. “I Need a Man to Love” (Take 3)
8. “Harry” (Take 9)
9. “Farewell Song” (Take 4)
10. “Misery’n” (Takes 2 & 3)
11. “Misery’n” (Take 4)
12. “Magic of Love” (Take 1) *
13. “Turtle Blues” (Take 9)
14. “Turtle Blues” (last verse Takes 1-3)
15. “Piece of My Heart” (Take 3)
16. “Farewell Song” (Take 5)

Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills 2-LP Edition Track List

LP 1
Side A
1. “Combination of the Two” (Demo)
2. “I Need a Man to Love” (Take 3)
3. “Summertime” (Take 2) *
4. “Piece of My Heart” (Take 6)

Side B
1. “Harry” (Take 10)
2. “Turtle Blues” (Take 4)
3. “Oh, Sweet Mary”
4. “Ball and Chain” (live, The Winterland Ballroom, April 12, 1968)

LP 2
Side C
1. “Roadblock” (Take 1) *
2. “Magic of Love” (Take 1) *
3. “Oh Sweet Mary”
4. “Flower in the Sun” (Take 3)

Side D
1. “Catch Me Daddy” (Take 1)
2. “Turtle Blues” (Take 9)
3. “How Many Times Blues Jam”
4. “Farewell Song” (Take 5)

*previously released tracks

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  1. Big Brother and the Holding Company SUMMERTIME 4:01
  2. Big Brother and the Holding Company DOWN ON ME 2:07
  3. Big Brother and the Holding Company BALL & CHAIN 9:38