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…
Columbia has managed to squeeze an impressive, perhaps excessive, number of compilations out of Janis Joplin's relatively slim body of recordings. With this two-CD set, The Essential Janis Joplin, the label's at it again, though it's a good one to get if you don't want to collect all the Joplin releases, and certainly don't want to get the expensive Joplin boxes, but want more than what fits onto a single disc. Including both solo recordings and highlights of her stint with Big Brother & the Holding Company, it has all the songs fans and critics would consider milestones in her career: "Ball and Chain" (a version recorded live in 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival, not the more familiar one from Cheap Thrills), "Piece of My Heart," "Down on Me," "Summertime," "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," "Tell Mama" (the live 1970 performance from the expanded edition of Pearl), "Get It While You Can," "Mercedes Benz," and "Me and Bobby McGee." And there are also good tracks that aren't as overly familiar, like "Coo Coo," "Misery'n," "Maybe," "Work Me, Lord," and "A Woman Left Lonely."
A ragtag collection of odds and ends, live and studio, from both the Big Brother and solo era. The best cuts are on the Janis box in different versions, but serious fans will find some interesting items here, especially the Cheap Thrills-era outtakes and live performances; "Misery 'N," "Farewell Song," and "Catch Me Daddy" were easily good enough to have qualified for inclusion on that album…
Released in tandem with Janis Ian's autobiography, Society's Child, this best-of compilation collects all the songs mentioned in the book, as well as several rarities. Ian's first demo, a distorted lo-fi version of "Hair Of Spun Gold," makes a welcome appearance, while "Ginny The Flying Girl" arrives via a 1981 Sesame Street album. Also notable are the handful of re-recorded songs on this two-disc collection, as well as several live tracks. Perhaps this isn't the definitive Janis Ian anthology for casual fans – it's too specialized for that – but Ian enthusiasts should make it a staple of their collections.
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive-rock music.
As Nice As Mother Makes It
After two very robust but patchy albums the Nice adopted a slightly different approach to their third by exploiting a half live/half studio hybrid. They felt that this (on the advice of their new manager Tony Stratton-Smith) would showcase the 'best of both worlds' as the studio precedents were not felt to do justice to their live performances.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Although admittedly a posthumous release, I was very surprised at the rather dismissive tenor of many of the reviews of this album to date. Hopefully this record will be reappraised soon as being a release worthy of anyone's consideration as I feel it does enhance an already rich legacy left behind by this very fine and innovative band. (So what if Charisma wanted to ride the slipstream of the lucrative ELP juggernaut?)
Excellent addition to any prog-rock music collection.
It is not possible to overestimate the Nice's importance to Progressive Rock. In their moment, they were prog and if the eye-opening debut Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack didn't show that, this dazzling follow-up did. Sure they're so old and dated you'd never put them on unless alone in the house.
Another fundamental brick in the prog-rock music wall.
This band started its career by doing artistic cover versions from tunes composed by other people, and this third album presents their own matured composing skills. Earlier "The Beat Goes On" was more like an abstract artsy tryout when compared to this masterpiece in my opinion. The most dominant elements are still the strong organ chord layers, powerful vocal harmonies and very strong emotional load, resembling a state of religious pathos.