She'll Grow Back: Multiple Mondays: Ball N' Chain

Monday, January 19, 2009

Multiple Mondays: Ball N' Chain

I usually tend to stay away from blues songs on Mondays: I spend so much time with "Stagger Lee", and so many blues songs have been recorded by literally hundreds of people. But apparently people loved the post with Janis covering Etta James, so I thought I'd let Etta return the favor, and while we're at it you can all learn about Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton (Wiki).

Those of you who are rock geeks will already know that she recorded "Hound Dog" three years before Elvis, and you may even know that she helped write it (though she got no credit, and one royalty check for $500 in total). There is an excellent biography here though, sadly, I can't find a decent discography anywhere. (Even the usually-reliable AMG doesn't have any of her singles listed, not even "Hound Dog.") This wouldn't matter much, except there's a dearth of info online about how many times she recorded "Ball and Chain." Most places agree she wrote it in 1961 or so, but a few sites also claim she first recorded it then. The best discography I could find, with the most complete-appearing info, says she didn't record it till 1968. So until I get my hands on better info, I'm going to assume this version I'm giving you is the first studio recording she did. (The album this appeared on is mostly rerecordings of her earlier hits for another label. Boo hiss for rerecordings.)

Then, we'll hear from Ms. Janis Joplin (with Big Brother...), who heard Big Mama perform the song live in California in the mid-to-late 60's. (I chose the Cheap Thrills version solely for my own convenience, as I already have it here on the computer in digital form.)

Next, Etta James covers Janis's version, from an excellent 1997 blues tribute album to Janis. (This whole series, with collections of songs by Dylan, The Stones, etc, is extraordinarily good.)

Finally, we have Big Mama Thornton's final live performance of "Ball and Chain," recorded about three months before her death. (I ripped this MP3 from the video here.)


CD said...

Checketh yon email inbox. i just sent you two pretty bad assed versions of Janis doing it live.

CD said...

Holy Toledo, you've apparently exceeded your bandwith for the day or some such thing, as i can't DL any of these tracks.

Aye Carumba!

Mark H. Besotted said...

The month, actually. For some reason I can't divine, people are swarming over here consistently. I've already added another 10 GB of bandwidth and now, two days later, it's gone. At this rate, I've gotta triple my monthly bandwidth consumption to keep up with these people.


CD said...

Good on you, mate!

i'm telling you, it's the EMM phenom that's driving all that traffic here.