Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits

Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits

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Drawing inspiration from Bessie Smith and Odetta, Janis Joplin developed a brash, uncompromising vocal style quite unlike traditional folk Madonnas. In 1966, Joplin was invited to the Bay Area to front Big Brother & the Holding Company. Cheap Thrills, a joyous celebration of true psychedelic soul, contained two Joplin "standards" in "Piece of My Heart" and "Ball and Chain," but she left the group in November 1968. Electric Flag members Mike Bloomfield, Harvey Brooks, and Nick Gravenites helped assemble a new act, known as the Kozmic Blues Band. I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! was coolly received, but the set contained several excellent Joplin vocals, notably "Try," "Maybe," and "Little Girl Blue." The singer subsequently dissolved the band and undertook medical advice for drinking and drug abuse. A slimmed-down group, the Full Tilt Boogie Band, was unveiled in May 1970 featuring a tighter, more intimate sound. Sessions for a debut album were all but complete when, on October 4, 1970, Joplin died of a heroin overdose at her Hollywood hotel. The posthumous Pearl proved her most consistent work, with "My Baby," "Cry Baby," and the anthemic "Get It While You Can." The highlight was the chart-topping "Me and Bobby McGee," which allowed Joplin to be both vulnerable and assertive. Joplin knew few boundaries, artistic or personal, and her sadly brief catalog is marked by her bare-nerved honesty.