Pearl (Janis Joplin album)

Pearl is the second and final solo album (and fourth album overall) by Janis Joplin, released on January 11, 1971, three months after her death on October 4, 1970. It was the final album with her direct participation, and the only Joplin album recorded with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, her final touring unit. It peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, holding that spot for nine weeks. It has been certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA.[1]

Janis Joplin-Pearl (album cover).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 11, 1971 (1971-01-11)
RecordedJuly 27 – October 4, 1970
StudioSunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California
ProducerPaul A. Rothchild
Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band chronology
I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!
In Concert
Singles from Pearl
  1. "Me and Bobby McGee / Half Moon"
    Released: January 12, 1971
  2. "Cry Baby / Mercedes Benz"
    Released: April 23, 1971
  3. "Get It While You Can / Move Over"
    Released: August 21, 1971


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 recording studio producer of The Doors, and worked well with Joplin, calling her a producer's dream. Together they were able to craft an album that showcased her extraordinary vocal talents. They used Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles.

The Full Tilt Boogie Band were the musicians who accompanied her on the Festival Express, a concert tour by train of Canada, in the summer of 1970. Many of the songs on this album were recorded on the concert stage in Canada two months before Joplin and the band started their Los Angeles recording sessions. The band also appeared twice on The Dick Cavett Show. They also played many American cities, both before and after Festival Express, although no recordings of those concerts have been officially released.

All nine tracks that she sings on were personally approved and arranged by Joplin. Pearl features the #1 hit "Me and Bobby McGee", on which she played acoustic guitar, written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster; "Trust Me", by Bobby Womack, written for Joplin; Howard Tate's "Get It While You Can", showcasing her vocal range; and the original songs "Move Over" and "Mercedes Benz", the latter co-written by Joplin, Bobby Neuwirth, and Michael McClure.

Joplin sang on all tracks except "Buried Alive in the Blues", which was actually a backing track in which she had not yet recorded vocals. The song's writer Nick Gravenites was offered the opportunity to sing it as a tribute to Joplin, but he turned it down, so the song ended up as an instrumental. He later sang the song with Joplin’s former band Big Brother and the Holding Company for their 1971 album How Hard It Is. The recording sessions, starting in early September, ended with Joplin's untimely death on October 4, 1970. Her final session, which took place on Thursday, October 1 after a break of several days, yielded her a cappella "Mercedes Benz." It was the last song she recorded before her death.[2] The album cover, photographed by Barry Feinstein in Los Angeles,[3][4] shows Joplin reclining on her Victorian era loveseat with a drink in her hand.[5]

Release and receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic      [6]
Rolling Stone(favorable) [7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide      [8]
The Village VoiceA−[9]

In 2003, the album was ranked number 122 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[10] moving to 125 in a 2012 revised listing.[11] It was moved to a 259 ranking in the 2020 list.


In 1993 Columbia reissued the album on 24kt gold CD as part of their MasterSound series, this edition was remastered by Vic Anesini using the Super Bit Mapping process.[12] In 1999 it was remastered again for the Box Of Pearls box set, this version was also mastered by Vic Anesini, it included four previously unreleased live recordings from the Festival Express Tour, recorded on July 4, 1970, as bonus tracks; it was also released as a standalone release.[13] A two-disc Legacy Edition was released on June 14, 2005, with six bonus tracks including a birthday message to John Lennon of "Happy Trails," and a reunion of the Full Tilt Boogie Band in an instrumental tribute to Joplin. The second disc included an expanded set from the Festival Express Tour, recorded between June 28 and July 4, 1970. The album was again reissued again in 2012 as The Pearl Sessions. It contains the original album, six mono mixes, two live tracks and alternate takes of the songs that constituted the Pearl vinyl album when Columbia Records released it in 1971. Recordings of Joplin and Paul Rothchild talking between takes give the listener insight into their creative musical process. In 2016 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released the album on SACD and double 45 RPM vinyl, the SACD was mastered by Rob LoVerde while the vinyl was cut by Kreig Wunderlich assisted by LoVerde.[14][15]

Track listingEdit

Side one
1."Move Over"Janis Joplin3:39
2."Cry Baby"Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns3:55
3."A Woman Left Lonely"Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham3:27
4."Half Moon"John Hall, Johanna Hall3:51
5."Buried Alive in the Blues"Nick Gravenites2:24
Side two
1."My Baby"Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman3:44
2."Me and Bobby McGee"Kris Kristofferson, Fred Foster4:28
3."Mercedes Benz"Janis Joplin, Bob Neuwirth, Michael McClure1:46
4."Trust Me"Bobby Womack3:15
5."Get It While You Can"Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman (Howard Tate 1966 rendition)3:23
1999 bonus tracks
11."Tell Mama" (Festival Express Tour, July 4, 1970)Clarence Carter, Marcus Daniel, Wilbur Terrell6:32
12."Little Girl Blue" (Festival Express Tour, July 4, 1970)Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart3:50
13."Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" (Festival Express Tour, July 4, 1970)Jerry Ragovoy, Chip Taylor6:52
14."Cry Baby" (Festival Express Tour, July 4, 1970)Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns6:29
2005 Legacy Edition bonus tracks
11."Happy Birthday, John (Happy Trails)"Dale Evans1:12
12."Me and Bobby McGee" (demo version)Kristofferson, Foster4:46
13."Move Over" (alternate version)Joplin4:27
14."Cry Baby" (alternate version)Ragovoy, Berns4:59
15."My Baby" (alternate version)Ragovoy, Shuman3:59
16."Pearl" (instrumental)Full Tilt Boogie Band4:29
2005 Legacy Edition Disc Two - Live from the Festival Express Tour
1."Tell Mama" (Toronto, June 28, 1970)Clarence Carter, Marcus Daniel, Wilbur Terrell6:49
2."Half Moon" (Toronto)John Hall, Johanna Hall4:38
3."Move Over" (Calgary, July 4, 1970)Janis Joplin4:41
4."Maybe" (Winnipeg, July 1, 1970)Richard Barrett3:57
5."Summertime" (Winnipeg)Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, George Gershwin4:39
6."Little Girl Blue" (Calgary)Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart5:10
7."That's Rock 'n' Roll" (Toronto)Full Tilt Boogie Band5:03
8."Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" (Toronto)Jerry Ragovoy, Chip Taylor9:11
9."Kozmic Blues" (Toronto)Janis Joplin, Gabriel Mekler5:29
10."Piece of My Heart" (Toronto)Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns5:21
11."Cry Baby" (Toronto)Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns6:31
12."Get It While You Can" (Calgary)Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman7:20
13."Ball and Chain" (Calgary)Willie Mae Thornton8:15


Full Tilt Boogie Band

Additional personnel




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[26] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[27]
1990 release
Gold 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Silver 60,000 
United States (RIAA)[1] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b "American album certifications – Janis Joplin – Pearl". Recording Industry Association of America.
  2. ^ The Story Behind Janis Joplin’s ‘Mercedes Benz’, WS Journal, 7/10/2015
  3. ^ McClellan, Dennis (October 21, 2011). "Barry Feinstein dies at 80; rock music photographer". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times obituary for Barry Feinstein says he photographed Pearl album cover
  5. ^ Gartner, Paul (7 July 2005). "Janis Joplin: "Pearl"". New Sounds. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008.
  6. ^ Huey, Steve. "Janis Joplin & the Full Tilt Boogie Band: Pearl" at AllMusic. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  7. ^ Shadoian, Jack (18 February 1971). "Janis Joplin: Pearl". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Janis Joplin: Album Guide". Retrieved August 16, 2020.
  9. ^ Christgau, Robert (1970). "Consumer Guide (16)". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  10. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. p. 122 | Pearl - Janis Joplin. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  11. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  12. ^ Pearl (Booklet). Janis Joplin. Columbia (CK 53441). 1993.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  13. ^ Pearl (Booklet). Janis Joplin. Columbia (CK 65786). 1999.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  14. ^ Pearl (Media notes). Janis Joplin. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL 2-454). 2016.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  15. ^ Pearl (Booklet). Janis Joplin. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (UDSACD 2173). 2016.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 162. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ "RPM 100 Albums". RPM. Archived at Library and Archives Canada. 15 (4). 13 March 1971. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  18. ^ "Dutch Albums Top 100". May 1, 1971. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  19. ^ "RIANZ - Janis Joplin Pearl". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  20. ^ "Italian Albums- Janis Jopiln Pearl". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  21. ^ "VG Lista - Album Top 40". September 12, 1971. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  22. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 30". Official Charts. March 27, 1971. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  23. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums Chart". Billboard. February 27, 1971. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  24. ^ "Portuguese charts portal (24/2021)". Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. 1971. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  26. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Janis Joplin – Pearl". Music Canada.
  27. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Janis Joplin – Pearl" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved June 7, 2020. Select 1995年10月 on the drop-down menu
  28. ^ "British album certifications – Janis Joplin – Pearl". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 4 February 2019.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Pearl in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External linksEdit