50 years ago today, Columbia Records unleashed Pearl, the final musical statement of Janis Lyn Joplin, on the world. A firebrand till her tragically early death at the age of 27 on October 4, 1970, Joplin didn’t live to see the release of Pearl. But the album (produced by Paul A. Rothchild) summed up her deep blend of soul, psychedelia, rock, and country, even touching on jazz and pop, with incendiary performances of now-classic songs including “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Cry Baby,” and “Mercedes Benz.” Joplin honed her from-the-gut style in a brief but intense period of electrifying live performances and recording. This spring, Columbia and Legacy Recordings will commemorate the 4x Platinum, chart-topping Pearl with a pair of vinyl reissues. (Pearl was previously released as a 2-CD Legacy Edition with studio and live bonus material. The 2008 release is still in print. The Pearl Sessions, from 2012, offered more studio bonus tracks. It, too, is still available.)
The first of these two releases arrives in April from online record club Vinyl Me Please. Their edition will be pressed on white “pearl”-colored 180-gram vinyl, sourced from the original master tapes and pressed at RTI. Retail is set for $30 for VMP members and $35 for non-members.
For those with more expensive tastes, the second iteration comes in July from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. Pearl will be pressed as an UltraDisc One-Step 180-gram 2-LP box set, pressed at 45 RPM for the best possible sound quality. MoFi’s release will also be pressed at RTI on the label’s “SuperVinyl” and will be packaged in foil-stamped jackets. It’s limited to 7,500 copies and retails for $125.00.
In addition to these releases, the Joplin Estate is offering a number of other items to celebrate Pearl including the Genesis Publications release of the book Janis Joplin: Days & Summers – Scrapbook 1968; and a fine art collaboration with the estate of photographer Barry Feinstein. The book is available for preorder now at JanisJoplin.com while more details will follow there on the Feinstein art. The Joplin Estate has also teamed with Z2 Comics (publisher of the recent Grateful Dead: Origins graphic novel) for Pearl Comix, a new graphic novel written by Leah Moore (Albion, Witchblade, Doctor Who) and illustrated by a host of female artists. Baby Janis: A Book About Nouns will arrive from Hachette’s Running Press on April 20. The book promises to “introduce your littlest rocker to a variety of nouns, language and creative concepts seen through eyes of a young Janis Joplin in this next installment of the Baby Rocker series.”
Lastly, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland will open an exhibit dedicated to Joplin (including Pearl) which is currently scheduled to open at the Cleveland museum on May 21, 2021.
You’ll find the links for the two vinyl reissues of Pearl below.
- Move Over
- Cry Baby
- A Woman Left Lonely
- Half Moon
- Buried Alive in the Blues
- My Baby
- Me and Bobby McGee
- Mercedes Benz
- Trust Me
- Get It While You Can