Entertainment » Music

A Night With Janis Joplin - Original Broadway Cast Recording

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Thursday Feb 13, 2014
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Broadway Records has recorded the Cast Recording for, "A Night With Janis Joplin," an evening of music featuring songs made famous by the passionate, yet perpetually troubled, singer and the blues covers that inspired her whiskey-infused sound that captivated the nation during her all-too-short career during the late 1960’s.

Mary Bridget Davies has done her homework. Her portrayal of Joplin, from her speaking voice to her instantly recognizable singing style, is spot on. Whether impersonating the soulful shrieking of "Ball and Chain," or the pained longing demonstrated in the classic hit, "Piece of My Heart," Davies’ gives us a strong indication of what Joplin would have sounded like with access to the stereo technology of today.

Joplin’s idolization of the famous African-American singers of the early 20th century inspired her covering several of their hits, and this album features several duel arrangements, including Nina Simone’s "Little Girl Blue," Bessie Smith’s version of "Today I Sing The Blues" (with Taprena Michelle Augustine’s performance as the legendary Smith), and the Gershwin standard, "Summertime."

The album doesn’t cover too much of Joplin’s biography, other than her discovery of her "voice," and her bad luck with men, and Davies’ renditions of the previously mentioned "Ball and Chain," as well as "Stay With Me," though accurate in their sound, border on self-indulgent, but the track order tends to sufficiently mix up the Joplin songs with the "inspirational" songs enough to keep the song order engaging. One musical highlight is the first-time release of "I’m Gonna Rock My Way To Heaven," written by producer Jerry Ragovoy for Joplin to record, yet never realized until now, due to her premature death from a heroin overdose.

Fans of Joplin’s music may find this soundtrack tedious in spots, but because of Davies effective performance, we have an entertaining opportunity to understand what Joplin experienced in her brief lifetime.

"A Night With Janis Joplin" (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Mary Bridget Davies
CD and Digital formats
Broadway Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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