Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Janis Joplin: Pearl [Columbia, 1970]
Full Tilt Boogie prove themselves the most musicianly of her three backup bands--there's not a track where they don't help her grab the moment by the seat of the pants. Nevertheless, they and their soul/blues do her a disservice. I miss Big Brother, whose bizarre lumpenhippie "acid rock," when combined with her too frequently ignored country roots and her blues allegiances, made for an underclass triple-header altogether too threatening and unkempt to suit the kind of professional advisors who help singers assemble backup bands. No accident that the only transcendent tracks here are "Me and Bobby McGee," an country song, and "Mercedes Benz," an impromptu (or simulated impromptu) hippie goof. A-