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18 Essential Songs

4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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MP3 Music, January 24, 1995
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Trouble In Mind
  2. Down On Me
  3. Bye, Bye Baby
  4. Ball And Chain
  5. Piece Of My Heart
  6. I Need A Man
  7. Summertime
  8. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
  9. One Good Man
  10. Kozmic Blues
  11. Raise Your Hand
  12. Tell Mama
  13. Move Over
  14. Mercedes Benz
  15. Get It While You Can
  16. Half Moon
  17. Trust Me
  18. Me And Bobby McGee


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 (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,736 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Janis Joplin Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Comment 38 of 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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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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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.
3 Comments 23 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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