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Music / Cheap Thrills

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Take another little piece of my heart.

Cheap Thrills is the second studio album by Big Brother and the Holding Company, released in 1968 through Columbia Records. It is their last studio album to feature lead vocalist Janis Joplin, who chose to leave the band to go solo not long after release. The closing track on the album "Ball and Chain" was recorded live at the Winterland Ballroom. This album features the band's Signature Song "Piece of My Heart". The album cover is also famous, being drawn by Underground Comics icon Robert Crumb.

In 2013 it was added to the National Recording Registry for being "historically, culturally and aesthetically important".


Side One
  1. "Combination of the Two" (5:47)
  2. "I Need a Man to Love" (4:54)
  3. "Summertime" (4:01)
  4. "Piece of My Heart" (4:15)

Side Two

  1. "Turtle Blues" (4:22)
  2. "Oh, Sweet Mary" (4:16)
  3. "Ball and Chain" (9:02)

Bonus Tracks (Reissue):

  1. "Roadblock" (5:31)
  2. "Flower in the Sun" (3:04)
  3. "Catch Me Daddy (live)" (5:32)
  4. "Magic of Love (live)" (3:58)

Principal Members:

  • Peter Albin - bass, guitar
  • Sam Andrew - guitar, vocals, bass
  • David Getz - drums, piano
  • James Gurley - guitar, bass
  • Janis Joplin - lead vocals

Cheap Tropes:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Oh Sweet Mary"
    Oh, sweet Mary, child of confusion
  • All There in the Manual: The album cover describes everything you need to know about the track list, the performers, and where the recording took place (mostly; as described below, the location for "Ball and Chain" is wrong).
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Janis Joplin was drawn by Crumb as this, with her sister recalling that he was admiring her figure.
  • Break Up Song: "Ball and Chain"
    I hope here's someone out there who could tell me
    Why the man I love wanna leave me in so much pain?
    • In "Turtle Blues" it's the other way around. The woman in the song describes herself as someone who treats all men badly.
    Yeah, maybe, maybe you could help me, come on, help me!
  • Cover Version: Covers on this album are George Gershwin's "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess and "Ball and Chain" by blues singer Big Mama Thornton. Even "Piece of My Heart", a Signature Song by the band, was originally sung by Aretha Franklin's older sister Erma.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: "Combination of the Two" and "I Need a Man to Love"
    Why, I need a man to love
    I gotta find him, I gotta have him like the air I breathe
    One lovin' man to understand can't be too much to need
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Crumb's album cover is so full of Scenery Porn detail that even this TV Tropes page can't do it justice, as it turns out far too pixelated to show in all of its artistic glory.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life:
    • "Oh, Sweet Mary"
    Tell me why, why is it all so hard?
    • "Ball and Chain"
    And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now hon', tell me why, why does every single little tiny thing I hold on goes wrong?
  • Epic Rocking: "Ball and Chain", which runs for more than nine minutes. "Combination of the Two", at a few seconds shy of six minutes long, just misses qualifying.
  • Face on the Cover: The whole band, shown as cartoon characters in comic strip panel format.
  • In the Style of: The album cover is in the style of a comic strip.
  • "I Want" Song: "I Need a Man to Love".
  • Live Album: "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.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "Ball and Chain" (9:02) is the last song on the album (apart from bonus tracks on reissues).
  • Love Hurts: "Piece of My Heart", "Ball and Chain".
    Take another little piece of my heart now, baby
    Oh, oh, break it
    Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah, yeah, yeah
  • Mammy: Crumb drew the character from "Summertime" on the album cover as the Afro-American woman in Porgy and Bess, despite the white Janis Joplin singing it on the album. The way Crumb drew her on the album cover would not fly that easily today. It's in line with the Afro-American stereotypes in vogue in American culture back in the early 20th century, a period Crumb is interested in, but still very racially stereotypical.
  • Metal Scream: Joplin's trademark. Appears most famously (of course) on "Piece of My Heart".
  • Non-Appearing Title: The album title doesn't appear in any of the lyrics.
  • One-Man Song: "I Need a Man to Love".
  • One-Woman Song: "Oh Sweet Mary".
  • One-Word Title: "Summertime".
  • Packaged as Other Medium: The cover looks like a comic strip, justified by the fact that Robert Crumb designed it.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Summertime"
    One of these mornings you're gonna rise, rise up singing
    You're gonna spread your wings
    Child, and take, take to the sky
    Lord, the sky
  • Rule of Two: "Combination of the Two".
  • Shout-Out: "Rock Bottom" on Eminem's The Slim Shady LP samples "Summertime" from this album.
  • Singer Name Drop: From "Turtle Blues".
    Yeah, but I'm gonna take good care of Janis, yeah, honey, ain't no one gonna dog me down.
  • Something Blues: "Turtle Blues".
  • Speech Bubbles: On the album cover.
  • Time Marches On: The way the black Mammy is drawn on the album cover is something that wouldn't be politically correct anymore nowadays, despite Robert Crumb just delving into the iconography that was popular in the comic strips he grew up with (and reflecting the song's Porgy and Bess origin).