The Pearl Sessions
Though it can be argued Janis never released a classic album, Pearl comes close. Gone are both Big Brother's psychedelia and the sonic excess of Kozmic Blues; in their place is an earthy blend of boogie, hard rock and R&B. It's obvious this is the most comfortable the singer ever felt in the studio. That said, her ragged voice was clearly buckling under the myriad stresses that come with intense liquor/drug use. The peak, of course, is her uncharacteristically subtle "Me and Bobby McGee." This Sessions version contains outtakes and demos revealing Joplin's freewheeling approach to recording.