Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Ball And Chain

This was the performance that made Janis Joplin a star.  It's from the Monterrey Pop Festival in June 1967 and at the time she was the lead singer in Big Brother & The Holding Company, a San Francisco-based band.  It made for an interesting contrast - Janis was a phenomenal vocalist and Big Brother was a pretty bad band, with an awful lead guitarist whom you can hear in the opening (this YouTube version thankfully omits the guitar solo in the middle).

At 3:30 and 5:25 in the video you can watch the reaction of Cass Elliott of the Mamas & Papas, who at the time were a much bigger act than Big Brother.  At the end you can see Janis excitedly leaving the stage overjoyed with the reaction of the audience.  Sadly she'd die in September 1970 of a heroin overdose.

Ball And Chain was written by Big Mama Thornton in the early 1960s.  In the early 1950s, Thornton had recorded Hound Dog (which she did not compose) prior to Elvis Presley's massively successful cover version.  This is Big Mama's original.  You'll notice that Big Brother changed it from a major to a minor key.

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