Janis Joplin – Pearl
1971 – Columbia
Janis Joplin is an artist that I’ve heard over the years, recognized her famous songs, but never really dug into her catalog. When I came across this album in a dollar bin, I knew it was time to check her out. I had heard of her in connection with the band Big Brother and the Holding Company so seeing that her backing band here is called Full Tilt Boogie confused me, as I’d never heard this name before. Apparently, her management convinced her to fire the Holding Company and she put together a new backing band, Full Tilt Boogie. They all sound great here, I especially like the piano player, Richard Bell. He plays some really cool lines and flows in and out of the tracks, making them fuller and more memorable. This was Joplin’s last album, passing before it was released. There is one track “Buried Alive in the Blues” that remains an instrumental because Joplin never had a chance to record the vocals over it. She was a force to be reckoned with, her vocals are so forceful and her arrangements are great. She definitely found her niche, fronting bluesy rock groups. Her voice is perfect for that, although listening through, she may have been able to front a big band with some conviction. It sounds like she is pouring her soul into the songs, which is what you want from a singer. There is so much showmanship that comes through on the vinyl that I can’t even imagine what it would be like to see her live. In fact, I am going to check out some live videos of her now, which is what I would suggest you do as well!