- Two stunning sides each earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – a big step up over every other copy from our recent shootout
- Richer, clearer and more tonally correct, with more energy and presence, all qualities that help to bring this music to life
- Janis’s vocals sound right on the money here – smooth enough to let you crank this one up good and loud without the sound getting hard and edgy
- 5 stars: “Janis Joplin’s second masterpiece (after Cheap Thrills), Pearl was designed as a showcase for her powerhouse vocals, stripping down the arrangements that had often previously cluttered her music or threatened to drown her out.”
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.
Both sides are noticeably sweeter and more open up top than the average copy. Most everything that we look for in a Hot Stamper Pearl is happening on this copy: presence to the vocals; weight to the piano; texture and definition to the bass; a Tubey Magical midrange; freedom from grit and grain and so forth.
It’s not a perfect record — no copy of Pearl will ever be — but it’s better in all the ways that make the music really work. That’s what a Hot Stamper is all about!
None of this is to say that you’ll put this one on your top shelf with your Ajas and your Tea for the Tillermans, but this copy has the kind of sound you’d never guess was possible listening to the average copy.
What the Best Sides of Pearl Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1971
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on Pearl
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Other Options? Not So Good
Mobile Fidelity famously attempted to do a version of this album that (thankfully) never made it past the test pressing phase.
There’s a Sony 180g reissue from Germany that’s godawful, and the later Columbia versions are a mess as well.
A Must Own Pop Record
We consider this Janis Joplin record her Masterpiece. It’s a recording that should be part of any serious popular Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
A Woman Left Lonely
Buried Alive in the Blues
Me and Bobby McGee
Get It While You Can
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Janis Joplin’s second masterpiece (after Cheap Thrills), Pearl was designed as a showcase for her powerhouse vocals, stripping down the arrangements that had often previously cluttered her music or threatened to drown her out.
Thanks also to a more consistent set of songs, the results are magnificent — given room to breathe, Joplin’s trademark rasp conveys an aching, desperate passion on funked-up, bluesy rockers, ballads both dramatic and tender, and her signature song, the posthumous number one hit “Me and Bobby McGee”…
Pearl’s power leaves the listener to wonder what else Joplin could have accomplished, but few artists could ask for a better final statement.