Janis Joplin was a woman with a voice destined for rock ‘n’ roll. She certainly knew how to sing the blues, and sang it well.
On April 4, 1970, Joplin had a reunion concert with Big Brother and the Holding Company in California. Listening to “Pearl” on vinyl is the best fit to honor Joplin and acknowledge the reunion concert held 43 years ago.
There are of plenty critics out there who don’t agree that Joplin’s voice was elegant. Despite some opinions on her ability, there is a mutual consensus that she knew how to express the essence of blues music. Listening to Joplin on vinyl or any other type of music medium is bound to bring shivers to the spine.
“Pearl” was Joplin’s fourth album. It was released Jan. 11, 1971 and was recorded with the Full Tilt Boogie Band. The album reached the top of the charts on the Billboard 200 and remained there for nine weeks.
“Buried Alive in the Blues” remains the only instrumental track on the album because Joplin passed away before she could add in her vocals. The singer passed away Oct. 1970, months before the album was released.
Unique is the best word to describe the presence and musical talent that defined Joplin.
This entire album would be the perfect answer to the question of “What was the ‘hippie’ era all about?” As soon as the first track, “Move Over” plays, it is instantly all about the grooving beat and the raspy yet delicate voice of Joplin. Sitting still is not an option when hearing this music.
The second track on the album is “Cry Baby.” Her vocals on the track, as well as the lyrics, show that she was an excellent blues musician. She was a pioneer for future talented women in the male-dominated music industry. Joplin sang from the soul, and that was evident on “Cry Baby.”
After the first two tracks play on the album, “A Woman Left Lonely” begins to play. This track shows a mellower, more bluesy side of Joplin’s talent. “Half Moon” quickly brings back the upbeat vibe that the album started with.
Side two of the record has a great collection of Joplin tracks. This album is a great example of the importance of vinyl: it’s a story of sound meant to be listened to in entirety without being skipped over.
Joplin can sing the blues wonderfully, but at times it is hard to understand what she’s saying. “My Baby” is a bit difficult to understand. Regardless of lack of clarity, it is still a strong track on the record.
A classic hit in the vault of Joplin is, without a doubt, “Me & Bobby McGee.” It is a smooth track with a beautiful lyrical story. The beat of the song picks up rapidly towards the end, which gives it more of a groovy feel.
“Mercedes Benz” is a track that only uses Joplin’s vocals, and has a tiny cut of her laughter at the end. It is not much of a musical treasure, but it provides insight into the boisterous personality of Joplin.
The last track on the album, “Get it While You Can,” is a slower bluesy track and an excellent conclusion.
It is vital to be aware of whom and what influenced the musicians of today’s generation. The majority of artists have been inspired by the ones who paved the way. Joplin made an impact on the music world for being one of a kind and existing in a time period in which music was a political movement.