Flower In The Sun: “The Pearl Sessions” Joins “Carousel Ballroom” To Celebrate Janis Joplin

08 Mar Flower In The Sun: “The Pearl Sessions” Joins “Carousel Ballroom” To Celebrate Janis Joplin

The Second Disc

41 years ago this month, Columbia Records unleashed Pearl, the final musical statement of Janis Lyn Joplin, on the world. A firebrand till her untimely death at the age of 27, Joplin didn’t live to see the release of Pearl, but the album summed up her deep blend of soul, psychedelia, rock and country, even touching on jazz and pop. Joplin honed her style in a brief but intense period of impassioned live performances and recording. She had a penchant for living life on the edge; in her recent memoir Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, Judy Collins recalled attending a 1968 performance by Paul Williams at Los Angeles’ Troubadour with Joplin, and the singer confiding in Collins, “You know, one of us is going to make it. And it’s not going to be me.” Joplin had already made it by that point, an incendiary set the previous year at the Monterey Pop Festival among her accomplishments. Collins intuited that Joplin was talking about making it, as in simply surviving. But for all her demons, Joplin came to life in front of the microphone, and thanks to the visionary Owsley “Bear” Stanley and Legacy Recordings, a previously-unreleased live performance of Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company will come to light on March 13.

Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 was recorded over two nights by Stanley at the San Francisco venue that would soon be rechristened the Fillmore West by Bill Graham. It will include fourteen tracks of full-tilt Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company from Stanley’s “sonic journals.” UPDATE: But that’s not all. On January 19, Legacy announced the April 17 release of The Pearl Sessions, a definitive 2-CD expansion of the artist’s galvanic farewell.

Though born in Texas, Joplin made her mark when she joined Big Brother and the Holding Company, a San Francisco aggregation formed in 1965. Big Brother was part of the same burgeoning Haight-Ashbury scene as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, among so many others, and it wasn’t a surprise that the band’s path would cross with that of Owsley Stanley. Equally renowned for his skills as a visionary sound engineer and his fervent advocacy of a certain mind-altering substance (he was eulogized by The New York Times as the “artisan of acid,” having manufactured literally millions of doses of LSD), Bear manned the sound board at the Carousel Ballroom, the short-lived venue operated jointly by the Dead, the Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother in 1968. A pioneer of the modern-day rock show sound system, Bear began mixing live sound with the Dead in 1966, and had a knack for capturing both the energy of a performance and the essence of a performer.

Hit the jump for more on both of these long-awaited releases, including the full track listings and pre-order links!

Thirteen of the album’s tracks are taken from the June 23, 1968 gig at the Carousel, while one bonus track comes from the June 22 performance. Joplin, guitarist Sam Andrew, guitarist James Gurley, bassist Peter Albin and drummer Dave Getz storm their way through some of the band’s most familiar repertoire, including every track from Side One of 1968’s Columbia debut Cheap Thrills: the originals “Combination of the Two” and “I Need a Man to Love,” the dynamically reinvented Gershwin classic “Summertime” and of course, Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy’s “Piece of My Heart.” (“Ball and Chain” from Cheap Thrills also appears.) The band reached back to its debut album for “Light is Faster than Sound,” “Call on Me,” “Down on Me” and “Coo Coo,” the latter of which was originally a single release before being added to the Columbia reissue of the original Mainstream LP.

Live at the Carousel Ballroom 1968 celebrates both the scorching talent of Janis Joplin and the ahead-of-its-time audio preservation work of Owsley “Bear” Stanley, to whom the release is dedicated. (Bear supervised mastering of the album before his death on March 12, 2011, the victim of a tragic car accident.) His widow Sheilah Stanley and son Starfinder Stanley both have contributed to its liner notes. It should make a terrific companion to the previously-released Live at Winterland 1968, which was recorded at that San Francisco venue just a couple of months earlier, in April 1968. It also is a tasty appetizer for The Pearl Sessions, first promised on a sticker affixed to the Record Store Day-exclusive Move Over! vinyl collection, and now officially announced!

The Pearl Sessions expands the original 10-track album produced by Paul Rothchild (The Doors) with a whopping 25 bonus tracks, nine of which are unreleased. This should be the most illuminating look yet at the seminal recording by Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band. The original LP, on Disc One, is augmented by the six mono single mixes of “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Half Moon,” “Cry Baby,” “Get It While You Can,” “Move Over” and “A Woman Left Lonely.” Disc Two, then, is dedicated to the album’s recording sessions. This fly-on-the-wall look takes in studio chatter, demos and alternate takes over its 19 selections, including three stabs at “Get It While You Can” and “Move Over,” two of “My Baby,” and alternates of “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Cry Baby” and “A Woman Left Lonely.” A live performance of “Tell Mama,” recorded in Toronto on June 28, 1970, rounds out the set.