I spent 60 bucks today and bought 6 Janis Joplin CDs. And I didn't get the one song I need (or want - I think I sometimes confuse the two).

I am looking for the version of Summertime that is the perfect/ultimate/best version. I know this because I already have it ... on tape. I need it on CD so I can make a mix of a bunch of songs I have had running through my head the last several weeks. The tape I have is titled Janis and it is the soundtrack of a documentary movie made many years ago about her. They do not release this soundtrack on CD or any other form than cassette. I know this because I have looked (more than a few times) in the databases and books that you sometimes see at record stores with info about artist/title/song in various genres and media formats. I didn't own any Janis CDs before today - just this tape1.

I suspected and hoped that the same version would be on one of these CDs. I now have five different versions of Summertime (one of the CDs didn't have the song but it was part of a box-set of three CDs and the other two had it) and none of them is the one I want. By the way, Janis is actually great in every version. It's the guitar that isn't right. He either fucks up or just doesn't go for it. If you hear them all (as I just have) you will see what I mean.

(Update on May 3, 2001) I didn't have time to write this before, but here are the 5 CD versions of Summertime that I now have along with a few notes I made about them:
  • studio version from Cheap Thrills - I thought this one was the best. There are a few mistakes and screechy parts. But overall high quality (what you would expect from the studio). Tone is mellow and they nailed the ending.
  • alternate studio version from Janis Joplin 18 Essential Songs - Nice guitar harmony (beginning). Guitar solo sucks. Alternate ending.
  • Live At Winterland '68 - Nice into. The levels are way off, especially with respect to the guitar. You can hear the crowd (a plus for me).
  • Joplin In Concert - Nice guitar intro, but the level is way too low. Guitar solo sucks. Weak ending. Everyone sounds a little tired.
  • I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! - This was recorded at Woodstock. It's definitely the worst though. The guitar totally, totally sucks. It not only sounds like the guy is drunk but that he's playing on a crappy guitar. Still it would have been nice to be there and experience it, crappy guitar and all. The one redeeming thing about this cut is the intro. It's the same little renaissance festival sounding horn ditty (is that somehow related to the Gershwin version?) as on my favorite version (the one on tape discussed above).

1. True story: I have actually bought this tape three separate times. Friends keep borrowing it and not returning it, or conveniently "loosing" it. It is really good! Why the morons who decide these things don't put it on CD is a complete mystery, especially given the other Janis CDs out there which are not as good.