CD Review Janis Joplin ‘The Pearl Sessions’: String of pearls

I must confess, I’ve never been a big Pearl man. For Janis Joplin’s brief recorded output, I’ve always more of an I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! guy, largely for the title track and Janis’ reinvention of the Bee Gees’ soulful To Love Somebody. (What was that about them being a disco group again?)

That said, I appreciate anything by rock’s greatest blues singer, and that includes Pearl’s second expanded reissue in the form of The Pearl Sessions.

As the title hints, it includes studio talk along with Joplin’s raw singing on demos and outtakes. And since fans already know full well what pearls are on Pearl, from Mercedes Benz to Me and Bobby McGee, here’s a look at added material from the sessions produced by Elektra great Paul Rothschild:

First are six cuts in their mono single masters, meaning A- and B-sides for three 45s to close out Disc One’s offering of the original album.  More important is Disc Two’s 18-track array of studio banter and often powerful and potent alternate takes and demos, as well as two concert performances from the Festival Express Tour of Canada in the summer of ’70 (both from Pearl’s Legacy Edition of 2005).

Of the outtakes, demos and “Overhead in the Studio” tracks, nine are previously unissued, including — there’s no other word for it — incendiary spins on Get It While You Can and Move Over. (For the last, especially riveting is Take 17 on Track 8.)  Even on outtakes, when Janis sings, you listen.

Say, I’m becoming more of a Pearl man as I listen to this. I guess that’s the idea. More Janis is always a good thing. That’s what fans got when Pearl was first issued three months after the Texan’s sudden death in October 1970, and it’s what we can celebrate even more so today.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

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