Skip to content

Pearl – Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin Pearl

Pearl

(1971), 7/10
Pearl was assembled posthumously after Texan blues singer Janis Joplin overdosed in 1970, joining the 27 club. It was her only album with her newly formed band Full Tilt Boogie. The instrumental ‘Buried Alive In The Blues’ is evidence of the album’s tragic interruption; Joplin planned to lay down the vocal track the day after she died.

Joplin’s point of distinction was her hyper-charged vocal technique; inspired by legendary blues woman Bessie Smith, her voice rarely betrayed that she was white and not particularly large. She was once asked to sing a gospel song named ‘Quiet About It’, but refused on the grounds that she couldn’t talk to her God quietly; Joplin rarely did anything by half measures. Full Tilt Boogie provide her with an ideal backing, earthy and driving, although Joplin’s vocals naturally take centre stage. The album’s name is taken from Joplin’s nickname: “Pearl” is credited with acoustic guitar on ‘Me & Bobby McGee’.

My favourite tracks are the two which deviate furthest from blues; Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Me & Bobby McGee’ is a standard, and Joplin’s version is definitive; she can’t resist shredding her voice on this relatively mild country ballad, and the end result is powerful. ‘Half Moon’ breaks the musical mould the furthest, with a funky arrangement. Meanwhile, the entertainingly throwaway a capella ‘Mercedes Benz’ (“My friends all own porsches/I must make amends”) is the other song that stands out among Joplin’s energetic blues workouts and dramatic ballads.

Joplin’s enthusiastic blues screeching has a certain charisma, but I’d rather listen to the elegant angst of Joni Mitchell’s contemporaneous Blue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

MyYellowFeather

Your guide to style! 💛

Old Rope

"It looked like rope, old rope"

The French Inhaler's Album Reviews

How are you meant to make your way in the world, when you're not cut out for working?

Desert Island Masterpieces

Just a 19-Year-Old Who Loves Stellar Music

mostlyacousticsteve

acoustic music reviews

Living a Beautiful Life

~ Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes ~

The Nerd Cave

¨You´ve taken your first step into a larger world.¨ -Obi-Wan Kenobi

Hack's Back Pages

Ruminations on Musical Milestones, 1955-1990

The Long Common

A Music Guide

The search for my creative identity

Bad at writing. Not bad at photography.

%d bloggers like this: