George Starostin's Reviews



Become a Certified Commentator today by following this link!

!!Before adding new comments, please check the GUIDELINES. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


Gustavo Rodriguez <> (14.05.99)

When it comes to Janis Joplin, I think you should locate your inner child, because he was right in the first place, Janis Joplin sucks! If death ever created an undeserved legend, it was Joplin. It's because of her we have singers like Axel Rose and other heavy metal screechers and not to mention overbearing overdramatic singers like Melissa Etheridge. Joplin makes it painfully obvious how ignorant and oblivious and out of touch Americans were of black music in the 60's. The British had a better, fuller understanding of R&B and soul and the proof is in the pudding. Look at the Beatles vs The Beach Boys. Who had more soul? Really.

The Stones or the Byrds? Janis Joplin or Dusty Springfield? Janis was supposed to be a blues or "soul" singer but really I never forgot that she was a white girl screeching. Never convincing as a soul singer. For that look up Aretha Franklin or Gladys Knight. Etta James whips the bellbottoms off Joplin any time.

Joe Cocker is a great example of someone who had similar approach to singing but was somehow credible as a soul singer. The same is true to a lesser extent of John Fogerty. Those two are screechers, but their singing never strikes me as contrived and forced like Joplin.

[Special author note: Gus is making a fatal mistake here, I think, by assuming that Janis should be compared to Aretha Franklin - taken the historical context and the countercultural message of her songs, she belongs to an entirely different world. Aretha Franklin is an imitation of life, while Janis is life itself. 'Nuff said. And I really, really don't care about the American oblivion for black music in the 60's - even if the thing is true.]

noone <> (16.04.2001)

Janis Joplin sang of her pain, just like Aretha Franklin. That's soul!! When you can take your feelings put them to music and make people feel your pain too. You can't compare Janis Joplin or Aretha Franklin to anybody else. Know why? Because their totally different people who lived totally different lives. But they both managed to make it in the music business. How 'bout you Gus? Never heard of you. You're entitled to your own opinion, but don't go comparing the best to best. It ain't possible.

yarden k <> (05.04.2002)

Oh man, you are the biggest ass I've ever met! (no offense) I mean, you sure know what u talking about- u sound kinda scholar hehehe.... but what the hell are all these stupid comparisons between Big Brother and the Airplane?? I mean, I really dig the Airplane, they were great, but  with all due respect, they didn't create the psychedelia. It was a common, popular style in the 1960's and almost any band tried it. Big Brother were just experiencing, like all the others. And to compare between Janis and Grace?? Man, that one really pissed me off. Grace and Janis were both fantastic- but totally different. in my opinion Janis was much more special and exciting, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that this comparison is definitely pointless! Awright, I feel better nowJ Seriously,  man, don't u think ur writing is kinda arrogant? Like, I don't know... Janis WAS great, you would ought to admit it (actually, I think u did, didn't ya?). Don't worry, u can't piss off a cool chick like me, but fans who are less calm then me might get really angry.... hehe LOL.

well, never mind. I guess that something in ur writing just gets me. Hehe I hope u didn't scared because of my opening?? U won't send me a virus or something as a , revenge, woncha? Nah, u would have to forgive me, I'm just a crazy Joplin freak...

Interag <> (11.02.2003)

Your article is quite interesting, although I'm not 100% in agrrement with what you say. You do not refer to any of her earlier recordings that are knocking about such as Hesitation Blues or Mary Jane, sung before she had started to tear her throat out.

The Farewell Song album is worth while for two reasons to which I feel you have not give full full merit. 'Misery', a fine song, and 'One Night Stand'. You are rather dismissive of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band but this track does show the difference that a good band makes.

I agree that Kozmic were the worst of the three bands she mainly used, they sound as if they're trying to compete with her rather than back her, but you are perhaps a bit harsh of Full Tilt (which at one time contained two members from Big Brother). Lastly I would recommend the version of 'Summertime' with Jimi Hendrix and also one or two of the numbers she recorded with The Grateful Dead.

jessi leiser <> (17.03.2004)

Gus man, your way out there. You can not compare Franklin to Joplin. and the fact that you did you were just giving her a complment. Janis had more pain in her life time, wich I might add she only lived 27 years, and franklin lived longer, so to that you can only compare their early work. I don't think you under stand her songs, and if you wach her playing you can see that her songs are her life. Her screeching are crys in her own way. She is a ledgion just like every great musian in the 60's. Black music was respected. Just look at Jimi Hendrex, of Richie Havens, they are just some of the great preformers. Take a look at what janis created, she singlhandely from my opinan made rock and roll what it is, for the woman. I guess you don't know this, but she was an outcast because she stood up for blacks, and her family would often say that she was ill, because she helped them out, and growing up in texas that could not have been easy. don't trash her just because your not famous.

<> (06.08.2005)

Janis Joplin could sing her ass off. Unfortunately, she had a really lousy instrument.

The attention focused on Joplin after her death is greatly undeserved. Had she lived a long life and not OD'ed on heroin, she likely would have been forgotten long ago. Joplin had a talent for mimicking the singing styles of black blues legends. Unfortunately, she lacked the equipment necessary to execute the artifice. Joplin's heartfelt yowling, screaming, raspy vocalizations were full of feeling. No doubt about it.

But she sounded more like a housecat caught in a clothes dryer than a blues diva.

As a rock singer -- a genre where such vocal stylings (sans talent) are de rigueur -- Joplin was notable, and she set some important precedents for women in that arena, but that's about where her deserved fame stops.

Janis Joplin is to Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thortnton and Aretha Franklin as Sam Hung is to Ricky Martin.

And, no. She was by no stretch of the imagination a "soul" singer. As an African American, I can attest to the fact that Joplin's music was never accepted by black audiences, and it never will be. Yes, she put her heart into her music -- but she just didn't have the pipes. In that regard, Joplin is a tackier and even less talented rip-off artist than, say, Michael Bolton -- which puts her pretty damned near the bottom of the heap when it comes wannabes.

She's just plain hard on the ears.

The near deification of Joplin and her designation as "Queen of the Blues" is as laughable as as Benny Goodman being crowned "King of Swing" or Paul Whiteman "King of Jazz," and as great a travesty as Elvis Presley being crowned the "King of Rock and Roll."

It's typical white wishful thinking -- and classic cultural appropriation.


noone <> (16.04.2001)

I'd "Call on You" Janis... This is my favorite song by Janis. Who could ever sing it like her? Certainly not Gus. Alright I gotta get off Gus. But the way she says "PLEASE!" Who wouldn't call on her? It hard to describe the way I feel about Janis Joplin, or Big Mama Thornton at that. Totally different, yet both give me chills all over, man. You can't compare legends like these. And if you do, you're just asking for a fight. I bet Gus ain't never heard someone sing soul like Big Mama. She make ya feel it all over, she'll let ya know what it's all about.

Ainars Zhebeerklis <> (16.10.2003)

A great album, it might be even my favourite record with a female singer (only other candidate for this category would be Surrealistic Pillow). But it's not the point I'd like to make about it. A part of the chorus on "Piece of my Heart" was in a shameless way ripped off by Queen on their post-Mercury album Made in Heaven in a title "Let me live" which not only contains a line "Take another little piece of my heart" but also the vocal delivery is quite similar to the one by Janis (except for the fact Janis' voice is a bit more manly than the one of Freddy). And one more thing - I can understand your negative attitude toward giving Janis more than 3 stars but in that case Crosby, Stills & Nash don't seem to deserve more than two stars to me, since they were not such a major influence outside the States as Janis was, but I might be wrong.

Alexey Provolotsky <> (01.09.2005)

Not that much Janis here, but the album has always been to me a very nice collection of catchy pop ditties. Nothing mind-blowing like “Summertime” or “Ball And Chain”, but the songs are very memorable (no one can’t deny that). “Bye Bye Baby” and “Down On Me” are amazing soul numbers (both serve as a great showcase of Joplin’s rich voice), that’s for sure, but I love “Call On Me” (my favourite song on BBATHC, in fact) even more. What a melody! “Blindman” (I often find myself singing it to myself), “Light Is Faster Than Sound”, “Caterpillar”? Silly, but charming. For me, the only letdown is the murky and undistinguishable “All Is Loneliness”. Also, I can’t sing as fast as Janis on “The Last Time”.

A very humble record. Janis is just singing here. Just singing. I could even give it a low 12, were it no Monday. And, to quote that 17-year old girl from San Diego, “I don’t like Mondays”. An eleven.


noone <> (16.04.2001)

Like I say man, Go buy it. It ain't something you can describe. It's hard to try to describe the feelings I get from listening to a "live" album by Janis. She throws all her feeling and soul at ya. It's breath taking, but this coming from a 20-year-old fan. I didn't live when she did, but you know, she's the only female singer I've felt a great, burning attachment to. She's the one that lets me feel how I feel and know that it's all right to feel so much all the time. I know I'm not alone if though she's gone. She left her music here just for me.


<> (26.02.2000)

George, if you love the blues, how can you call "Turtle Blues" a weak song? Personally, I love this tune and would rank only behind "Summertime" on this record. I love the sound of Janis dropping the glass, or Southern Comfrort bottle, or whatever it was, on the studio floor and then the sound of the glass being swept up, during the song. But "Summertime," yeah brother! The greatest single song ever composed, IMHO. Janis did the Gershwin boys proud. I rate her version just ahead of Booker T. & the MGs (instrumental) and just behind a version by Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass. Oscar plays a clavicord, not piano, on that track by the way. And Joe Pass is a jazz guitarist in case you are not familiar with him.

<> (17.08.2000)

i must have "poor taste"...always wondered why nobody,even the band never mentions my favorite big brother song"sweet mary"...probably because everyone told them it was bad...roick critics are so damn anal about a genre wich should be about honesty raw emotion and ideas.again,big brother,to me,didn't need the ego-trippin' janis to be great.

Michael H. <> (21.07.2004)

A lot of the "Live" material isnt "live"-according to the book "Scars of Sweet Paradise"

1. "Ball and Chain" was recorded live at Winterland, except for one part. Measure 134...

2. "Turtle Blues" has 'vibes' from Barney's Beanery, which was recorded when James and Janis went there with a taperecorder and James kept the tape rolling as Janis provoked an argument with someone. It was Dave Getz and Bob Neuwirth who breaks wine glasses in the studio. More information is located around pages 208-209 in this book, ect... But still a great listen nonetheless!!!

Alexey Provolotsky <> (01.09.2005)

This is a classic, of course. Joplin’s screams, Big Brother’s sloppiness (see? The thrills are really cheap; but they grab me). I like it. They are all playing their game. I could also do without Janis’ nothing-special “Turtle Blues” (no, it’s not bad, but is drowned in highlights, so…) Cheap Thrills is a real big record. A definite Janis Joplin record. Who else could make “Combination Of The Two” sound so fantastic? Don’t you wanna roll on the floor when Janis screams “You can rock me, knock me…”? Maybe I’m alone in that, but I certainly do. And that great triad. Even if their hooks manage not to kill you (which is a crime from your side), they will do that with their raw/gentle power.

Needless to say, Cheap Thrills must be your first buy. It’s so powerful! Janis could not do better. A solid 13 overall.

Dave Dickson <> (09.10.2005)

In terms of fire, soul, energy, conviction, sincerity, chutzpah, cool- factor, yadda yadda yadda, this gets an unqualified 9. (not a 10 because Kick Out the Jams is the obvious standard for THAT crazy juice) In terms of the actual quality of the material, this gets a 6 at best. Not to say that any of these songs outright SUCK--although wait, "Oh Sweet Mary" DOES, horrifically; in fact, it's one of the worst songs I've heard in my life-- but with the exception of tracks 1,2, and 4, this whole LP just shouts, loud and proud for the world to smoke a joint to: "THIS IS A COVER!!! COVER COVER COVER!! ALL OVER THE TOWN!! Bow DOWN before our coverness, cretin." Now, mind you, well-performed covers that suit the band and are altered to their strengths are one thing; witness early Rolling Stones. But covers that are obviously covers and do nothing but strew their coverness all over creation are another; witness this album. That's what "Summertime," "Ball and Chain," and yes, "Turtle Blues" do and are--songs that obviously don't belong to this band and would almost certainly sound better done by the masters. At least I'd like to hope so. "Summertime" has potential. That said, "Piece of My Heart" is a classic for the ages and a Janis standard from here to eternity. The chorus is where it is, kids--you ain't gonna hear a more desperate female vocal performance anywhere in the decade. And surprise, surprise, this band can actually write a good song when they put their mind to it--the first two tracks on here are some of the better '60's psychedelia originals I've never heard on the radio. They have HOOKS--something strangely neglected elsewhere in favor of soulful vocal wackadoo and fruity psychedelic nothing. Now, I have nothing against said things when they're done by the MC5--that's because that band kicks significant ass when they do so, guitar-noise-wise. But this band does many things, and NONE of them are "kicking ass." Eh. For me, her solo albums are a far better place to start.

See, here's the problem. It's quite a common thing to say "generic '70's rock" or "generic disco" or "generic '80's" *COUGH* or "generic grunge" *CARGLE* *PRINDLE* but this might be one of the first examples I've found of "generic late '60's rock". As if such a thing ever existed! Maddening, because technically, this stuff ain't generic at all--it's a unique voice singing a unique hybrid of rock, soul, pop, R&B, and Flower Power, at the height of musical hybridism in rock. And yet it sounds totally and utterly predictable and generic to me. I can't explain it. I give it a 7. Darn me to heck.


Pedro Andino <> (31.07.2003)

janis joplin. what a babe! i loved her since i got the record at age 10 and i got to say it has the sexy vocals that drove me wild! if josie and the pussycats play hard rock, i say awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww yeah! i wanna fuck her so bad i wanna have a sexy dream like me and janis makin' love in the river! josie and the pussycats are not that bad i say i loved redheads and josie is the one for me. melody is stupid while valery is so smart. anyhow my dad loves her so much we are janis fans after she died but i don't wanna talk about that. i just wanna say i love you janis!

Michael H. <> (15.08.2003)

According to both versions of the Dave Marsh/Kevin Stein(James Bernard) book "Book of Rock Lists" ("New Book Of Rock Lists") has in the "First and Debuts" chapter part "Most Dissapointing Debuit Albums" says this album: "So Joplin split from Big Brother and got herself a band of solid professionals. And then the leather-lunged singer's own technical limitations showed her up. She was better off with the high-spirited incompetence of Big Brother than this sterile drool." & later re-worded the review "The album where Janis split from the supposidley amateurish Big Brother... and hired herself a band made up of solid professionals. But the leather-lunged belter's own technical limitations became glaring in that context, and the pros never reached anything like the energy level of Big Brother's...semichaos. The resulting sterile drool belied all the vitality of Joplin's performance persona."


noone <> (16.04.2001)

Aahh, Pearl. "Trust Me" has everything I'd ever want to say to this one guy that I kinda messed things up with, but it has all the rawness that only Janis can provide. "give me time, give me time" that's what I'm saying, man. why can't these guys understand that. Don't they know "the older the grape, the sweeter the wine?"

Oh man Oh man "Me and Bobby McGee" I personally like the acoustic version with Janis on guitar because her vocals is what makes that song so special to me. "Don't mean nothing, hon, if it ain't free."


No reader comments yet.


noone <> (16.04.2001)

The "Farewell Song" has so much sweet energy in it. Janis can combine such sweet honesty with sometimes I'd call it Anger. Sweet Anger that I'd like to sing to somebody too. But she done sung it for me. And Damn, better than anyone else could do.

Return to the main index page