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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Janis Joplin - Little Girl Blue'
(Janis Joplin, Cat Power / DVD / NR / 2016 / MVD Visual)

Overview: Musician Cat Power narrates this documentary on Janis Joplin's evolution into a star from letters that Joplin wrote over the years to her friends, family, and collaborators.

DVD Verdict: It has to be said that 'Janis: Little Girl Blue' is a surprisingly moving film. I had always had this image of Janis being a tough cookie, but this documentary shows her to be tender-hearted. A small town Texas girl who hung around with the boys, a bit of a tomboy, very shy and introverted, she went on to infuse music with her unique vocal styling - until she could no longer hold on.

For those not in the complete know, Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American singer considered the premier female blues vocalist of the Sixties; her raw, powerful and uninhibited singing style, combined with her turbulent and emotional lifestyle, made her one of the biggest female stars in her lifetime. Sadly though, she died of a drug overdose in 1970 after releasing only four albums.

As 'Janis Joplin - Little Girl Blue' plays out, we quickly learn that her early school days were just not that kind to her either. Indeed, one year she was classed as “ugliest man” (an annual tradition), which upset her deeply. She was never invited to the High School Prom, had no conventional beauty, was badly bullied at school, and so, well, yeah, she stuck out like a sore, unwanted thumb.

So she found an outlet in singing and playing guitar. Enjoying the blues, born into a devoutly religious family in Port Arthur, Texas, Joplin always lived a little bit outside of the mainstream. Cultivating a rebellious manner, Joplin styled herself in part after her female blues heroines and, in part, after the Beat poets. Her first song recorded on tape, at the home of a fellow University of Texas student in December 1962, was "What Good Can Drinkin' Do."

As time progressed, she felt a need to distinguish and express herself and migrated to San Francisco, where she joined Big Brother and the Holding Company, a psychedelic rock group whose groovy sound perfectly showcased her soulful, unique voice. She wanted to integrate herself into their sound. She didn’t just sing a song, she gave herself 100%, heart and soul.

Their recording 'Piece of my Heart' became legendary. She sang and became famous at the Monterey Pop Festival where she wore her hair long and clothing loose, embodying the rebelliousness of the counter-culture life-style. But, as we clearly see and hear in this quite brilliant, enthralling documentary, she soon outgrew her band and formed her own bands, Kozmic Blues Band the Full Tilt Boogie Band. The rest, as they say, is now history, but the legend, the legacy that Janis left behind still reverberates beautifully whenever her name, her music is brought forth. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and has a running time of 105 minutes.