While generally considered to be one-third of the tragic troika of late-'60s rock -- along with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix -- Janis Joplin has never been the subject of the extensive vault raiding that followed the deaths of her contemporaries. This well-paced two-disc set doesn't extend far beyond what most fans already know, although the previously unreleased live (at Woodstock) versions of "To Love Somebody" and "Kozmic Blues" do burn appropriately red-hot and cool. The collection's compilers have, however, done a nice job of remastering the classic recordings, punching up Joplin's remarkable voice without casting an artificial sheen over the top. That's particularly evident on the live material -- highlighted by poignant takes on "Flower in the Sun" and "Farewell Song" -- but also on the studio takes of lesser-known songs like "Women Is Losers" and "A Woman Left Lonely." Essential
's 30 songs comprise tracks recorded during Joplin's stint with Big Brother & the Holding Company
, as well as solo material; among them are her most widely heard songs, from the easygoing "Mercedes-Benz" to the rough-hewn "Piece of My Heart" to that shiver-inducing cover of "Summertime." It's a perfect way to celebrate what would've been Joplin's 60th birthday, and a nice kickoff to what Legacy promises will be an extensive reissue campaign.