Our album of the week is back and today (January 11) we're celebrating 48 years since the release of rock legend Janis Joplin's final masterpiece, Pearl, on Columbia Records. She's one of the most iconic female performers in history and her early departure from this world remains a tragedy for the music industry.
Pearl was released just three months after her death from an overdose at the age of just 27 and was only her second ever solo album release following 1969's I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!. It was the only album she recorded with touring band Full Tilt Boogie Band, who accompanied her on her Festival Express Canadian tour in the summer of 1970. Recordings from that tour are included in the Legacy edition of the album.
Recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood with producer Paul A. Rothchild, who had previously worked with The Doors, the album was named for Janis' nickname and would go on to sit at the top of the Billboard 200 chart for nine weeks, eventually going multi-Platinum.
It featured the number one single Me and Bobby McGee (co-written by Kris Kristofferson) as well as the a cappella sensation Mercedes Benz which was the final song Janis Joplin recorded just three days before her death. The singer wrote very few of the songs on the record, apart from Mercedes Benz and Move Over, with a few of them - including Cry Baby from Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters and Bobby Womack's Trust Me - being covers; though she approved and arranged all of them.
One of the songs, Buried Alive in the Blues, ended up being a Full Tilt Boogie Band instrumental because she died before she could record vocals. Songwriter Nick Gravenites turned down the opportunity to sing for the track - a smart move, as the unfinished arrangement certainly represents the emptiness that the music world felt at the time, losing such an iconic star.