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Music Review: Janis Joplin – Pearl

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Janis Joplin began recording Pearl on September 5, 1970. By October first the album was almost complete. Three days later she was dead at the age of 27.

She would only record four studio albums during the course of her short career; two with Big Brother and The Holding Company and two on her own. It remains one of the smallest catalogues of any member of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Pearl was released posthumously on February 1, 1971, and quickly became a huge commercial success selling four million copies in the United States alone.

Joplin hired her own band for this release and to accompany her on the road. The Full Tilt Boogie Band, which was assembled by guitarist John Till, also included pianist Richard Bell, bassist Brad Campbell, organ player Ken Pearson, and drummer Clark Pierson.

The other important addition in the studio was producer Paul Rothchild of The Doors fame. He proved to be a perfect match for Joplin as he helped to assemble her most mature and smooth effort. The album would rank number 122 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The two most memorable tracks are Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” which became a huge hit single, and her own “Mercedes Benz” which featured one of the better vocals of her career.

The albums contained a number of strong tracks. “Move Over,” “Cry Baby,” “A Woman Left Lonely,” and “Half Moon” find her making the type of music that appealed to her at the time.

“The most poignant track is “Buried Alive In The Blues,” which remained unfinished. Her vocal was never recorded and it is only the instrumental that was included.

One can only guess at what the musical future held for Janis Joplin. Had she lived Pearl would have been a bridge to somewhere but, because of her untimely death, it remains as her last will and testament. If you want to understand and appreciate Janis Joplin, this is an essential chapter in her life story.

About David Bowling