Box Of Pearls

Janis Joplin

Columbia / Legacy Records, 1999

http://janisjoplin.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/30/1999

Wow... if you've read this far, you might feel like you've been in a marathon. (You can imagine how your intrepid reviewer feels - trying to balance reviewing this set and a hyper-active three year old all at the same time.)

After four discs and nearly 3 1/2 hours of Janis Joplin, you'd think there'd be nothing more to day. Not quite... included with the Box Of Pearls set is a five-song EP, Rare Pearls, which you can't buy elsewhere. So, to complete our review of the box set, we'll briefly talk about this disc.

The first two tracks on this disc are studio outtakes from Big Brother & The Holding Company during the recording of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Cheap Thrills. One listen to "It's A Deal" and you know why it didn't make the cut. The other track, "Crazy Once You Know How," is a marked improvement, but with other songs on Cheap Thrills that had the same kind of rhythmic attack, I could understand why this one wasn't originally included. It's not a bad song at all, but had it been included, I would have nailed it for being too repetitive.

The last three songs feature the Kozmic Blues Band. Ironically, the track recorded in Amsterdam - a cover of "Maybe" - blows the doors off of the two tracks recorded six months later at the Fillmore, which sound incredibly muddy. "Maybe" is the track that makes this special disc all the more worthwhile, but "Raise Your Hand" and a cover of "Bo Diddley" don't add much to the collection. (A more telling snippet comes after "Bo Diddley" has faded out, and features Joplin talking to her bandmates about the reaction she saw in the audience. You can hear the all-out joy in her voice.)

If the producers of Box Of Pearls really wanted to have done something special for the people who shelled out their hard-earned money for this set, I would have suggested they include the remainder of the July 1970 Full Tilt Boogie Band show in Calgary, which featured Joplin and her bandmates sounding at the peak of their game. (I know I suggested in a previous review that Legacy release that in the future, but I think it would have been a more tempting offer to have put it in this set rather than just five songs.)

To the average listener, over three hours of non-stop Joplin might seem like a lot - and in a sense, it is. But for any afficianado of Joplin's or a fan of '60s music, Box Of Pearls does seem to be the way to go, especially if you're looking at replacing the beat-up vinyl copies in your collection. (One word of warning, especially if you're looking at just buying the single albums on cassette: Many of them do not come with all the bonus tracks that are on the CDs. Buyer beware - and drop the lousy three bucks to up it to CD.)

Rating: B-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia / Legacy Records, and is used for informational purposes only.