Janis Joplin’s last recording has been released by Columbia Records; sadly, it’s her most impressive one.
Miss Joplin completed the recording in Los Angeles just before her death on October 4, 1970. It is called “Pearl,” presumably after the name her closest friends gave her.
“Pearl” contains 10 songs, two of them written by Miss Joplin. She produced a total of three albums for Columbia and an early one for Mainstream Records, but none approached the magnificence of her concerts.
“Cheap Thrills” best showed Miss Joplin the blues-rock screamer, and “Pearl” best shoes her as an artist of diverse abilities. Her version of “A Woman Left Alone,” a slow blues, is exquisitely tortuous. “Me & Bobby McGhee,” on which she plays guitar, is unusual for her, a country song that she does in quite an original style. It is somewhat eerie to hear her sing that song’s chorus: “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose...”
“Mercedes Benz” is a piece of frivolity about praying for a color TV and the like, sung acapella. “Get It While You Can” is a powerful blues. “Move Over,” which opens the LP, is a hard rocker. “Buried Alive in the Blues” is an instrumental number that shows she had finally found a good band to work with.
The band, Full Tilt Boogie, consists of Brad Campbell, bass; Clark Pierson, drums; Ken Pearson, organ; John Till, guitar , and Richard Bell, piano.
“Pearl” is a well-rounded album. It has more substance and depth than her previous attempts, and is a more convincing blend of power and precision than she and her previous bands have accomplished. “It shows the magnitude of the loss,” a Columbia spokesman said.