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Janis Joplin 

Pearl -- Legacy Edition

Wednesday, Jul 6 2005
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In 1970, things were beginning to look good for Janis Joplin. She'd finally obtained the quality backing band she'd needed all along, Full Tilt Boogie; a sympathetic producer in Paul A. Rothchild; and the right mix of rock, blues, and country songs that she could put her imprint upon. But drugs did her in, making Pearl the last album she'd release (in 1971), as well as securing her place as a rock legend. Problem is, sometimes the legend can overshadow the music, so it's worth noting that Pearl was and remains very fine indeed. While some of Joplin's earlier recordings were strained or histrionic, these find her passionate, whiskey-rasped vocals achieving a commanding focus, deeper range, and relative restraint, and Full Tilt matched her fire while playing it lean 'n' clean. Joplin seethed and soared on R&B covers "Cry Baby" and "Get It While You Can" and waxed wistful on "Me and Bobby McGee," a posthumous hit. This superbly annotated set also includes a disc of previously unreleased 1970 live performances of songs from Pearl and Big Brother-era classics like "Piece of My Heart."

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Mark Keresman

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