Janis Joplin- Pearl (1971): 21 October 2019

A quick note before we hop in to the review: You can now listen to Your Dad’s Car Stereo on Spotify with a playlist of every song that’s been rated 10/10. The link is on the right side of the page where you can also take a look at other songs I’ve had on repeat this week! This playlist will be updated every time there’s another 10/10, so make sure to follow the playlist and keep on rocking!

Janis Joplin – Pearl (1971)

Welcome back to YDCS! This week we’re covering the second solo studio album by Janis Joplin, and unfortunately, her first posthumous release, Pearl. Pearl was 95% complete before Joplin passed away in October of 1970, leaving only a partially finished song in “Buried Alive In The Blues,” which was sent to pressing without vocals. Joplin had direct input into the album’s content, this being her last album with that input. Pearl is atypical for an early 1970s rock album in that there’s a real variety of songs that you won’t hear anything else. There’s lots of ballads, funk and Motown influences, and even an a capella song. The other thing that stood out to me was that the produce for the album, Paul Rothchild, worked closely with the Doors through the late 1960s, and you can easily hear parallels to the keyboard forward sound of the Doors and the keyboard-centric mixing on the backing band.

Most of my experience with Janis Joplin’s music comes from her time with Big Brother and the Holding Company, particularly the song “Piece of My Heart,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect listening to Pearl and went in with an open mind. I’ll say that I was surprised! The powerful vocals that Joplin was known for were ever present but with the addition of what can almost be considered a funk element thanks to the backing from the Full Tilt Boogie Band.  Pearl is almost overwhelming because of the amount of heart and feeling that Joplin poured into each song. I felt like I needed to take a breath after the album was done. Pearl will make shivers run up your spine, that’s how good the vocal performance is. Sit through this one and enjoy it, this is a piece of art from the storyteller herself, Janis Joplin.

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Move Over: “Move Over” is a great way to start off the album. We get a peak at the vocals that Joplin is known for with a funky rock track to boot. This is a sultry, up-tempo song that is really catchy and worth the listen! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Cry Baby: Holy moly. You want to talk about powerhouse songs? Yes? Then you want to talk about “Cry Baby.” Although this wasn’t an original song, Joplin made this all her own and blew it out of the park! The vocals are so intense and full of passion that it’s almost overwhelming. Her ability to the highest, most earth-shattering highs to the most compassionate lows is unrivaled. This may very well be Joplin’s opus magnus, and it will go down in rock and roll history as one of the best vocal performances ever. Dad’s Rating 10/10

A Woman Left Lonely: I’ve said it before; slow songs don’t often hold my attention very well, but “A Woman Left Lonely” was able to do it. The vocals are, once again, spot on, and just as wild as they were on “Cry Baby,” if slightly more restrained. After a track like “Cry Baby” you almost need something more restrained, so credit goes to the production team for organizing the record. This is a great example of a ballad done right. Slow but powerful and building towards a great climax. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Half Moon: A return to a funk inspired sound waits for us on “Half Moon.” This is a great chance to talk about the backing band for the album, the Full Tilt Boogie Band. They don’t get nearly enough credit for their contribution because they’re always overshadowed by Joplin, but this is a great example of the musicianship. At this point, funk was a relatively new genre (having originated in the 1960s) and the Boogie Band did a standup job of introducing it to a wider audience before it took the world by storm with the introduction of disco later in the decade. Great track and great chance for the other musicians to show off their stuff. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Buried Alive In The Blues: This was the only unfinished track on the album and was supposed to have a vocal accompaniment, but Joplin passed away before she could record the vocals. What we were left with is a blues track that would have made her proud. Listening to this, you can almost hear her voice and what she would have been singing. Full credit goes to the Full Tilt Boogie Band for laying down a rocking track. Dad’s Rating 6/10

My Baby: “My Baby” is the only song on the album to feature a backing choir, and while it wasn’t necessary (Joplin’s vocals could have carried the song easily), it’s nice to hear her interaction with other singers. This definitely feels like a southern gospel inspired song with the heavy emphasis on the organ throughout. It’s also a great tribute to Joplin’s southern roots.  Dad’s Rating 7/10

Me and Bobby McGee: “Me and Bobby McGee” may be Joplin’s most well-known song and helped propel Pearl to success. At the time, this was a recent cover, the original having been released in 1969. Musically, I love that Joplin uses this song to show off a wide range of her vocal talent, starting quietly and slowly before building into a rockabilly riot at the end while seeming to dance at will up and down scales. The beginning in particular shows that you don’t have to have a loud voice to be powerful; it’s all in how you use it. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Mercedes Benz: This is one of the most unique songs that I think we’ve listened to thus far. Recorded in one take, three days prior to her death, this a capella song is largely understood to be a rejection of consumerism. This is really a landmark song for a rock album. No one else at this time would have dared to put a vocal only track on a rock record, but Joplin did it. This is a true testament to her willingness to experiment with what rock music was and break the barriers of the genre. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Trust Me: “Trust Me” gives me an immediate feeling of the Motown sound. I really don’t have anything bad to say about this song; it’s got a great buildup, passionate vocals, fantastic musicianship, and is everything you would expect from Joplin. This is probably one of the most hidden gems on the album. Most people know about “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Cry Baby,” but this is one of the better ones that most people haven’t listened to. It’s worth a listen, so give it a shot! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Get It While You Can: We’re finishing Pearl off with a rock ballad, and it’s not a bad one by any means, but it doesn’t stand out as much as some of the other songs on the record. “Cry Baby” and “A Woman Left Lonely” hold my attention better and I think they’re more interesting to listen to from a performance standpoint. Dad’s Rating 6/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Steve Miller Band- Fly Like An Eagle (1976): 14 October 2019

Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle (1976)

Welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! We’re taking a listen to, what is arguably one of the most influential rock albums of the mid-70s, Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band. Prior to the mid-70s, the Steve Miller Band primarily focused on making psychedelic rock music. It wasn’t until the release of their previous album, The Joker, that they started shifting to both a blues rock inspired sound that was common for traditional rock at the time. Some of those early influences are still audible on this album, particularly on songs like “Blue Odyssey” and “Wild Mountain Honey,” but it’s a different kind of psychedelic rock than you would normally think of. This is a more restrained psychedelic rock sound that serves to enhance another style instead of overtaking the album.

Fly Like an Eagle would go on to be one of the band’s best-selling albums, with the only equal being the sequel to Fly Like an Eagle, Book of Dreams. This is often cited as one of the best rock albums ever made for a good reason; this is consistently a very good album. There isn’t a lot of filler, the production quality is great, the songs are dynamic, and they show a wide ability in terms of musical ability. Many of the songs from this record continue to receive heavy airplay on classic rock radio and you’ll find that even if you don’t know the song, you’ll be able to immediately identify the “Steve Miller Sound.” This is a great album and I hope you enjoy one of the greats!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Space Intro: “Space Intro” is a really neat way to open an album. Immediately, you know you’re being transported to another world, Steve Miller’s world, where psychedelic rock, folk, blues, and classic rock come together in harmony. The transition into “Fly Like An Eagle” is seamless too and even carries over into the song. Good start, but I wish it was a little longer. It’s hard to judge a one-minute long song like that. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Fly Like An Eagle: The title song for the album is such a fantastic piece of music. Let’s start with the instrumentals. Miller’s vocals are smooth as velvet and lightly processed to add to the spacey feeling of the song, amplified by the backing synthesizer. The syncopated drum beat during the chorus gives the song a little bounce, despite being a softer song on the whole. “Fly Like An Eagle” is dynamic in its approach to rock music and showcases a versatile style while harkening back to the psychedelic roots of the band. Dad’s Rating 9/10

Wild Mountain Honey: When I first listened to “Wild Mountain Honey” I wasn’t sure that the synth-heavy approach was going to work in the song’s favor, but with the infrequency with which it’s used it only helps to continue the spaced out theme from “Fly Like An Eagle.” I adore the vocals on this song and appreciate the fact that the band realized they were the feature on the song and put them forward. I don’t normally rate slower songs as highly as faster tempo songs (selective bias at play), but “Wild Mountain Honey” has a lot going for it. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Serenade: “Serenade” is the first ‘traditional’ rock song on the album and it’s a good one! If the whole album has continued the psychedelic feeling of the first three songs throughout the album it would have been overwhelming so I’m grateful for a break. Although this is a slightly above average rock song (with extra credit going to the vocal performance) it feels like one of the designated album filler songs. Hey, I wish every filler song could be this good so I won’t complain! Dad’s Rating 6/10

Dance, Dance, Dance: Including a song like “Dance, Dance, Dance” on this record was a brilliant idea. This is a reimagining of a classic folk song, made friendly for rock music. This was re-recorded very well and it fits squarely within the already present blues, psychedelic, and classic rock sounds of the album. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Mercury Blues: I’m a sucker for a blues rock/folk rock inspired rock song, and “Mercury Blues” hits all the notes. Musically it follows a traditional blues structure but tuned a little heavier thanks to the electric guitar. Sonically, it fits really well on this album, stuck between some ballads, some rock classics, and one or two other blues tracks. This is a solid song, but not the best on the album. Dad’s Rating 7/10

Take The Money And Run: This here’s the story ‘bout a guy who writes a blog. “Take The Money And Run” is another one of my favorite tracks that has made it onto my “Tops” Playlist. Maybe I’ll share that one day, but in the meantime, you’ll have to put it together by picking songs out of this blog! I really like the story that the lyrics tell on this song. I can’t often follow the lyrics of songs, but hearing the story about two lovers who go out and murder a gas station owner while robbing him, then taking the money and running is exciting! It’s an easy-to-follow adventure story in song format set to an infectious guitar riff. I almost feel like this song could be turned into a movie, that’s how good the detail in Miller’s storytelling is. “Take The Money And Run” will always be a frontrunner in my favorites. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Rock’n Me: I can’t believe that we go straight from a song as big as “Take The Money And Run” into “Rock’n Me!” These two are legendary rock songs that could have carried their own albums, but we get them on one album together! I’m not as much of a fan of “Rock’n Me” as the preceding song, but I recognize that it’s a solidly composed rock song that shows off the best of the band in a radio-friendly format. Dad’s Rating 7/10

You Send Me: This is one of the most surprising songs that I’ve listened to all year, and I never expected to hear it on a Steve Miller album. Maybe that’s what makes it more surprising. Immediately I get a 1950s doo-wop vibe from the vibrating, layered vocals and soft guitar. This is a peaceful song that manages to stay true to a rock sound by playing the notes and singing just a little more forcefully than normal for a doo-wop song. “You Send Me” is an absolute gem and worth your time. Dad’s Rating 8/10

Blue Odyssey and Sweet Maree: I’ve put these two together because I honestly thought they were the same song at first, and if you listen to them back-to-back, I think you’ll understand why. “Blue Odyssey” is a space-trek in 50 seconds. There’s lots of synth, but the surprising part is the transition into the Delta Blues track, “Sweet Maree.” It feels like you’ve travelled through space to get to a different part of the world and your introduction to this new world is a harmonica solo. I would have never expected that transition to work but it’s fantastic! This is just another example of how the band was able to pull on their early psychedelic influences to make a unique record that flows from one piece to the next. Dad’s Rating 9/10

The Window: I initially expected “The Window” to be a bit of album filler to round out the album, but I suppose I should have known better after having listened to the rest of this record. This is a great soft rock track that balances out every element perfectly. The vocals aren’t too far forward like was done purposefully (and rightfully so) on some of the other tracks, but are instead balanced by little asides on the keyboard and a strong bass line. Now that I’m at the end of the album, I think I can firmly say that this is one of the most enjoyable albums that I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year. Stellar album and I’m looking forward to a review of Book of Dreams in the future. Dad’s Rating 7/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive- Bachman-Turner Overdrive II (1973): 7 October 2019

Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Bachman-Turner Overdrive II (1973)


Welcome back to YDCS! This week we’re taking a listen to the second album from Bachman-Turner Overdrive (abbreviated BTO from here on out), Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. After their first album failed to gain a significant amount of traction, BTO kept on and published this second album which included, what would become the classic rock staple, “Takin’ Care of Business.” Bachman-Turner Overdrive II would pave the way for the band’s most commercially successful album, Not Fragile, released the following year with the hit single “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.”

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II had so much album appeal for me initially, but I was let down on the whole. There were some good songs that had great acoustic rock sound reminiscent of the Eagles or the Doobie Brothers, but a lot of the songs fell squarely into the “I won’t remember it in three days” camp. The highs are high, and the album features one of my favorite songs of all time, but the lows are just middle of the road rock songs. None of them are bad songs, in fact there’s even one or two hidden gems on the album, but on an eight-track album that means half the songs are average. Let me know what you think!

Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown

Blown: This is a solid start to the album. I’ve never heard “Blown” before, and honestly; I probably won’t remember it next week. This was never a big hit for BTO and it’s a pretty standard rock track. Not a whole lot to point out and nothing to really fault. Middle of the pack, solid start. Dad’s Rating 6/10

Welcome Home: “Welcome Home” has a little more spice to it! Immediately there’s a Latin flair that transitions into a surprising hard rock chorus! The juxtaposition is really interesting and the musicality is really great here. I like listening to the traditional rock sound over the Latin beat; that really works well for this song. Give this one a listen! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Stonegates: I wasn’t sure what to do with “Stonegates.” At first, it seems like it’s a fairly forgettable rock song. By the time the song is over, you realize that it has one of the shredding-est guitar solos you’ve ever heard and the buildup to that is what “Stonegates” is really all about. The song gets progressively faster from verse to verse, almost imperceptibly, and before you know it there’s a freewheelin’ twin guitar solo to wrap the song up. It’s done in a such a subtle way that I have to applaud it. This is a hidden gem worth checking out for that alone! Dad’s Rating: 7/10

Let It Ride: I LOVE “LET IT RIDE!” This is one of my favorite songs, period. I have a selective playlist of my favorite rock songs that only the best make it on to, and “Let It Ride” made the cut. The almost southern rock inspired strumming on the guitar, soft riffs, beautiful vocal harmony and driving beat; this song hits all the marks for me. “Let It Ride” is one of those songs that just puts me at ease listening to it, the other being “Wheels of Fortune” by the Doobie Brothers. Top marks. Dad’s Rating 10/10

Give It Time: Maybe it’s the fact that it follows one of my favorite songs, but “Give It Time” feels lackluster in comparison. None of the vocal harmony that I love, no soft rock sound, and no dynamicism. “Give It Time” just plays at one volume; loud. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just doesn’t do anything to wow me. This is an average rock song for me. Dad’s Rating 5/10

Tramp: “Tramp” is more exciting than “Give It Time” because it shows different styles in the same song, and I like that. The guitar riff doesn’t exactly do it for me, but the transition between the melodic verse and the hard rock inspired chorus is neat and well done. Dad’s Rating 6/10

I Don’t Have To Hide: I wasn’t sure what to make of “I Don’t Have To Hide” at first with its sound that’s like something straight out of a western movie, but the song really grew on me. It almost sounds like a lost Eagles song. The powerful, scream/sung chorus is very compelling and the musicality on this track is some of the better work on the album. This is a solid hidden gem and worth a listen! Dad’s Rating 7/10

Takin’ Care Of Business: We round out the album with a classic rock staple that still receives heavy radio play, “Takin’ Care Of Business.” I’m not sure there’s anything to fault with this song! It’s a fun song and a very strong finish to an album. You get a little bit of everything with “Takin’ Care Of Business;” some piano, a rocking guitar solo, and an upbeat groove. We don’t often see many cases where one of the strongest songs on the album is last on the track listing, but this works well as a bookend for the album. Dad’s Rating 8/10

The opinion above is protected under the Fair Use provision of United States Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C §107 which allows for the fair use of a copyrighted work for criticism without infringement on the copyright.