The original CD of this superb blues-rock standard—sadly, Joplin’s last studio release—suffers from a surfeit of grunge and puts an artificial edge on Joplin’s voice—the last thing it needs. A later CD, The Pearl Sessions, contains additional material but no sonic improvement to the original tracks, which sound identical.(The liner notes are unclear about whether this is supposed to be the case, but either way, it is.)
HDtracks offers Pearl in two resolutions. The 96k version at first resembles the CD. Then you notice that it is blessedly missing about half of that nasty vocal edge and virtually all the grunge. On further listening, you become aware that the download has noticeably tighter rhythms and greater top-end extension.
At 192k there are even fewer digital artifacts; yet, for some reason, the music doesn’t “move” as well at this sample rate. The music sounds bogged down and sluggish. This appears to be a case where, in going to an even higher resolution, the baby got thrown out with the bath water. (It happens more often than you might think.) At any rate of all the digital versions of Pearl extant, the best I’ve heard and the clear choice is the 96k download.