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18 Essential Songs

39 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 24, 1995
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$2.78 $0.27
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18 Essential Songs + Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits + Pearl
Price for all three: $27.33

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Editorial Reviews

A slightly flawed collection drawn from the three-CD box set Janis, this still isn't a bad introduction to Haight-Ashbury's favorite blues shrieker. Skimming Cheap Thrills, Kosmic Blues, and Pearl, the disc catches some of Joplin's most stunning moments. In acknowledging the "rarities" aspect of the box, however, Essential occasionally goes wrong; the acoustic demo version of "Me and Bobby McGee" is incredibly touching, but a strange choice if there's room for only one. The must-have version remains the full-blown take heard on Pearl and Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits. That there's enough interest in Janis remaining to justify a set like this one is heartening, though. --Rickey Wright

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Trouble In Mind (Album Version)Janis Joplin 2:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Down On Me (Album Version)Janis Joplin 2:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Bye, Bye Baby (Album Version)Janis Joplin 2:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Ball And Chain (Live)Janis Joplin (with Big Brother & The Holding Company) 8:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Piece of My HeartBig Brother & The Holding Company 4:14$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. I Need A Man To Love (Album Version)Janis Joplin 4:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Summertime (From 'Porgy & Bess') (Album Version)Janis Joplin 4:05$1.29  Buy MP3 
  8. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) (Album Version)Janis Joplin 3:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. One Good Man (Album Version)Janis Joplin 4:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Kozmic Blues (Album Version)Janis Joplin 4:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Raise Your Hand (Live)Janis Joplin 2:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Tell Mama (Album Version)Janis Joplin 5:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Move Over (Album Version)Janis Joplin 3:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. Mercedes BenzJanis Joplin 1:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. Get It While You Can (Album Version)Janis Joplin 3:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. Half Moon (Album Version)Janis Joplin 3:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
17. Trust Me (Album Version)Janis Joplin 3:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
18. Me and Bobby McGeeJanis Joplin 3:57$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 24, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000002B1A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,071 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Karen Anderson on June 16, 2002
Format: Audio CD
So far, no one has been able to put together the definitive collection of Janis tracks. Which means you need to buy all the CDs, including "Farewell Song" and "Live at Winterland '68" and create your own definitive collection.
This collection misses the mark on several crucial points, but is still better than the Greatest Hits album, mainly because it features the legendary Saturday afternoon recording of Ball and Chain at the Monterey Pop Festival, the moment that launched Janis into super stardom, with Mama Cass watching in awe. (The Greatest Hits album features the inferior Full Tilt version of Ball and Chain. The one we see on film was recorded the second night at Monterey, where Janis is wearing a gold lame pantsuit.)
All of the tracks on 18 Essentials were culled from the 3CD box set, thus some are not definitive, rather alternate. Such is the case with "Summertime." I've always felt that the bootleg live in Amsterdam version is the absolute best on record, but at the very least there are better "Summertime" tracks from the Cheap Thrills recording sessions than this one. I was also dismayed by the omission of "Cry Baby," the second-best charting single from the Pearl album. Granted, the alternate take of "Cry Baby" featured on the boxed set is not the same as on Pearl, but to me it is a great cut none-the-less and should have been included in lieu of "Trust Me," which doesn't showcase Janis at her best.
Also, no where to be found is "Little Girl Blue" from the Kozmic Blues album. This was Janis's favorite of all her recorded tracks, and should have been included because it is, in a word, ESSENTIAL. I personally like the inclusion of the acoustic demo of Bobby McGee in this collection.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "caseyscott" on December 1, 1999
Format: Audio CD
While many people found this mediocre because of its exclusion of the original version of "Bobby McGee", they need to understand that this CD was made especially for those who were looking for something else besides that song. For those people who have heard her classic #1 song and wondered what else there is. And there certainly is PLENTY more, as evidenced by the extent of her fabulous work on every album released by her. This goes through every phase of her musical career briefly and to the point (but I do wonder why her best song ever "Little Girl Blue" isn't here?). Yes, it is essentially a sampler from the JANIS 3-CD set, but would you really want to buy an expensive set just to find that you don't like Janis as much as you thought you did? This is a great way out of that predicament and is a LOT better than the supposed GREATEST HITS, despite its re-release with bonus tracks. If you're looking to get into Janis, try this (if you want the full spectrum of her career) or KOZMIC BLUES (to get her best album).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. Coltrin on January 14, 1999
Format: Audio CD
When I was first turned on to Janis a few years ago, I bought this CD, not knowing a single one of her songs (call it a deprived childhood). In no time I was one of her most loyal (not to mention youngest) fans. Everything on it is vintage, though surely it was tough to exclude much of the material from the boxed set. This CD truly lets you hear Janis evolve through her short, brilliant career, from her pre-Big Brother blues days, to the raw power of Cheap Thriils, to her legendary live performances and the more nuanced final recordings. The acoustic demo of "Me and Bobby McGee" gives me goose bumps to this day. Even now that I've collected almost all of her discography, this is still the album I recommend to people looking to start their Joplin collection.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bruce in Chapel Hill on June 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The one-star rating is not a commentary on Janis Joplin's music. It is a commentary on the record label's curious selection of tracks for this album, and the questionable decision to call this eclectic collection of songs "essential". This album is NOT essential, neither for the casual listener who just wants a good selection of songs from Janis' primary albums, nor for the dedicated fan who wants previously unissued material to supplement other Janis CDs.

The tracks on this CD are a mixture of previously unissued material and of the formal studio recordings (or sometimes the live performances) that appear on her previous primary CDs. A classic example of the former: the version here of "Me and Bobby McGee" -- her one number one hit -- is not the traditional version that appears on her "Pearl" album, but rather, is a previously unissued solo demo prepared for the album's producer.

So if you just want a 'traditional' overview of Janis Joplin's music, the "Greatest Hits" album is probably your best bet. If you're a dedicated fan -- who WANTS the solo demo of "Bobby McGee" or the track of "Trouble in Mind" recorded in an apartment with a typewriter clacking in the background -- you might look at the 3-disc 49-track "Janis" album from which the tracks on the current CD were culled. Alternatively, if you just want to supplement an already largely complete collection with the previously unissued tracks, they're all available for download.

But it's hard for me to imagine WHO the audience would be for the curious collection of tracks on the "18 Essential Songs" album.
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