BY: Traci Taylor
Janis Joplin was a woman with a voice destined for Rock ‘n’ Roll. Joplin certainly knew how to sing the blues, and sing 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 that 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 released Jan. 11, 1971 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 being able to add in her vocals. Joplin passed away Oct. 1970, months before “Pearl” was to be released.
Unique is the best word to describe the presence and musical talent that defined who Joplin was.
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 listening to “Pearl.”
The second track on the album is one that Joplin is well known for, “Cry Baby.” Her vocals on the track, as well as the lyrics, prove that she was an excellent blues musician. She was a pioneer for future talented women in the 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, 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 that are all worth listening to. This album is a great example of the importance that vinyl beholds. A story of sound meant to be listened to in entirety without being skipped over.
Joplin can sing the blues so well, but at times it is hard to understand what she is singing. “My Baby” is a bit difficult to hear the lyrics clearly on. Regardless of lack of clarity, it is still a strong quality track on the record.
A classic hit in the vault of Joplin is without a doubt, “Me & Bobby McGee.” It is such 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 an insight to 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 where music was a political movement.