Los Angeles based rock band The Record Company recently announced a new EP they are calling Side Project, due out May 19 via Concord Records. The project will include covers of some of the band’s favorite influences. The first song unveiled is a cover of Big Mama Thornton’s classic “Ball and Chain.”
Big Mama Thornton first released “Ball and Chain” back in 1968 as a B-side. Although the preeminent blues song did not crack the record charts at the time, it is still one of her best known contributions, thanks in no small part to frequent performances by Janis Joplin.
For The Record Company’s take on the tune, they were not hesitant to restructure and reframe the songs arrangement. Their version does away with the standard blues progression the original employs, instead opting for more rock n roll over soul. Big Mama Thornton’s version is an unabashed splendor of powerful vocals, vintage piano accompaniment and galvanized guitar segments. In contrast, The Record Company’s version feels more congenial, Big Mama’s immense vocal range was a great attribute the original flexes, so the band’s evening out of the vocal segments gives it a catchier, night out at the bar feel.
As The Record Company explained in a press statement, “The pandemic forced us to try an entirely different approach to our process, with everyone working from home. With ‘Ball and Chain,’ we used some really non-traditional home methods and ended up finding some new sounds we may not have found otherwise. Side Project is what happens when three guys who have always been in bands finish their record, are locked away from each other, and are told they need to make more ‘content.’ So, we took songs we love, fucked them up, cut them up and twisted them around, until we loved it and felt like a band again.”
For more from The Record Company, check out their video for “Off The Ground.”