Hav­ing in­tro­duced Cheap Thrills to this se­ries, I can’t pos­si­bly leave it be­hind with­out fea­tur­ing Ball and Chain. Is it just Ja­nis Joplin’s great­est vo­cal per­for­mance, or maybe the finest live cap­ture of a blueswom­an ev­er, or maybe (not stretch­ing very far) the hottest vo­cal per­for­mance ev­er record­ed by any­one? Prob­a­bly not, but it’s to­tal­ly not an in­sane line of in­quiry. In the very un­like­ly event you don’t know Ball and Chain, turn this up loud. But get a grip on some­thing firm first.

Janis Joplin

It was writ­ten some­time in the Six­ties by Big Ma­ma Thorn­ton but it’s not clear whether she ev­er got much in the way of roy­alties; some record-company sleaze­bag got a new Porsche in­stead, prob­a­bly.

The Cheap Thrills ver­sion is live and fea­tures crazed gui­tar breaks by Big Brother’s Sam Gur­ley; but this is a Jo­plin show­piece, end to end. She takes it from a mur­mur up to a full-blown ma­ni­a­cal howl and then fur­ther stil­l, los­ing con­trol of her voice a few times along the way and that’s an es­sen­tial part of the per­for­mance; she’s a mae­nad, ec­stat­i­cal­ly lost in her art, dan­ger­ous to be around.

There re­al­ly is noth­ing more to say.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. The per­for­mance at the Mon­terey Pop fes­ti­val was a key mo­ment in Joplin’s ca­reer, and that video cap­tures an elec­tric ar­range­ment very much like that on Cheap Thrills, but not as good. Ja­nis is though. Hav­ing said that, I re­al­ly like this 1969 per­for­mance from Ger­many be­cause it’s got a horn sec­tion and bet­ter cam­er­a­work; I feel clos­er to the ec­sta­cy.


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From: Guy Middleton (Jun 05 2018, at 12:23)

When I saw the title I thought this would be the Social Distortion song of the same name.


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May 29, 2018
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