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Pearl is an album by Janis Joplin, released on February 1, 1971, just four months after her death from a heroin overdose. It is her fourth album and the only album she recorded with the Full Tilt Boogie Band.
The album has a more polished feel than the albums she recorded with Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Kozmic Blues Band due to the expertise of producer Paul A. Rothchild and her new backing musicians. Rothchild was best known as the producer of The Doors, and worked well with Joplin. Together they were able to craft an album that showcased her extraordinary vocal talents. The Full Tilt Boogie Band were the musicians who accompanied her on the famous Festival Express in the summer of 1970, and many of the songs on this album were introduced on the concert stage in Canada.
Pearl features the hits "Me and Bobby McGee," (commercially released with "Half Moon", another album cut, on the flipside) written by Kris Kristofferson, her lover at the time, and "Move Over," which she penned herself. Joplin sings on all of the tracks except for "Buried Alive in the Blues," which remained an instrumental because Janis died before being able to add her vocals. The recording sessions, which began in early September, ended with Joplin's untimely death on October 4, 1970. The iconic album cover shows Joplin reclining on her Victorian loveseat with a drink in her hand, conveying that this is Janis Joplin as she really is.
"Me and Bobby McGee" is a song written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, originally performed by Roger Miller, but best remembered for Janis Joplin's cover of the song, recorded a few days before her death in October 1970.
Some sources state that Gordon Lightfoot issued the first recorded version; another story tells how Kristofferson popped his head into the studio with freshly written verses as Roger Miller was recording the song. Regardless, Miller was the first artist to have a hit with the song, peaking with it at #12 on the US country charts in 1969. Lightfoot's version hit #13 pop, and #1 country in his native Canada in 1970.
By far the best known recording is by Janis Joplin on her 1971 Pearl album. Joplin's version topped the charts to become only the second posthumous number one single in rock & roll history (the first was "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding). (It was also the only number one single Joplin had during her career.) In 2004, the Janis Joplin version of this song was ranked #148 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Kristofferson performed the song live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 and a CD and DVD of the event were issued 30 years later as Message to Love: The Isle of Wight Festival 1970.
In the original version of the song, Bobby is a woman; Janis Joplin, who was a lover and a friend of Kristofferson's from the beginning of her career to her death, changed the gender and a few of the lyrics in her cover. It was the last song she recorded before her untimely death. Kristofferson states he did not write this song for her, but the song is associated with her. Especially, he has said, in the line, "Somewhere near Salinas, Lord, I let her slip away."
01. "Move Over" (Janis Joplin) - 3:43 02. "Cry Baby" (Jerry Ragovoy, Sam Bell) - 3:58 03. "A Woman Left Lonely" (Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham) - 3:29 04. "Half Moon" (John Hull, Johanna Hall) - 3:53 05. "Buried Alive In The Blues" (Nick Gravenites) - 2:29 06. "My Baby" (Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman) - 3:26 07. "Me and Bobby McGee" (Kris Kristofferson, Fred Foster) - 4:33 08. "Mercedes Benz" (Janis Joplin, Bob Neuwirth) - 1:48 09. "Trust Me" (Bobby Womack, Michael MClure) - 3:17 10. "Get It While You Can" (Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman) - 3:27
Bonus: All tracks are previously unreleased live recordings. 11. "Tell Mama" - 6:32 12. "Little Girl Blue" - 3:50 13. "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" - 6:52 14. "Cry Baby" - 6:29