Reissue (Sony Legacy)
Janis Joplin’s final studio album marked a major change of sound: She was still based in R&B but dropping every trace of Big Brother’s psychedelia, screaming less and singing more, and starting to draw from the singer-songwriter world. Kristofferson’s “Me & Bobby McGee” was the hit, but one of the best album tracks, “Half Moon,” came from future Orleans leader John Hall; and Joplin was also starting to blossom as a songwriter. In other words, it would’ve still been a huge success if she hadn’t died on the eve of its release. And if she hadn’t, we’d probably have more interesting outtakes than we get here. Don’t expect any big revelations — you still can’t hear the vocal on “Buried Alive in the Blues,” for instance, because it was never recorded. But the second disc has a wealth of alternate takes, live versions and studio chatter. And anyone who wants proof that mono mixes can be more powerful than stereo need look no further than the single mix of “Move Over,” reissued here for the first time.