Janis Joplin’s Previously Unreleased Live Version Of ‘Ball And Chain’ Is Exquisite Psych-Blues

Senior Music Writer
11.15.18

Don Hunstein/Sony Music Archives

Any list tabulating the greatest singers of all-time is null and void without the inclusion of Janis Joplin somewhere near the top. The singular power and titanic force she could bring to a song was just as impressive as the exquisite beauty she could render from a single line or lyric with her distinct, raspy tenor. Her early death at the tender age of 27 in 1970, was an incalculable loss.

2018 marks roughly 50 years since Janis Joplin exploded into the national consciousness with the debut album by the San Francisco band Big Brother And The Holding Company, of which she was the lead singer. Later this month, Sony/Legacy will offer a deluxe edition of that record, filled out with 25, previously unreleased performances by the band titled Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills. Of the many choice songs that have remained in the vaults for decades is a performance of the song “Ball And Chain” that the band performed at Bill Graham’s venue The Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on April 12, 1968 that you can listen to for the first time below.

If you thought the studio version of “Ball And Chain” was intense, it has nothing on the rendition performed by Janis and the band here. You can practically feel the electricity coursing through her as she winds her way through the psych-blues composition, alternating from a sizzling simmer to a full on cacophony of sound and thunder. It’s no surprise she rose to prominence in such a quick fashion shortly after this album dropped.

The deluxe edition of Big Brother And The Holding Company’s debut album Sex, Dope & Cheap Thrills is set to drop on November 30 via Columbia/Legacy Records. You can listen to the band’s previously unreleased performance of “Ball And Chain” in the video above and pre-order the entire collection here.

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