Remembering Janis Joplin’s remarkable cover of Otis Redding’s ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’
Janis Joplin was born steeped in the music of blues and soul. The singer educated herself in the finer moments of the genres and delivered her own searing representation of a true soul singer. Often heard singing the songs of the past, Joplin often turned her hand to some of the greats.
There may well not be a better showing of Joplin’s love for soul music than with her fiery performance of Otis Redding’s classic song from 1965 ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ as part of a duet with her Kozmic Blues bandmate, Snooky Flowers.
Janis Joplin was a humongous Otis Redding fan. The powerful singer had found a special love for Redding through his music and often cited him as the person to help her “push” on stage “instead of sliding right over it”. Redding helped offer Joplin a different way of singing, of performing, of living.
Perhaps as a mark of respect or in a small tribute to Redding, when Janis Joplin toured Europe with her newly assembled band Kozmic Blues Band, she decided to provide a cover of ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ that the great man would have been proud of.
It’s not many times that a singer is willing to stand next to Janis Joplin and sing a duet. While Tom Jones may have the chops to pull it off, most other singers pale in comparison. It makes this duet with Snooky Flowers all the more special as the band’s saxophonist stands up to the challenge and provides a smooth counterpoint to Joplin’s powerhouse vocals.
The clip also includes the introduction of Flowers by Joplin which is just as warm and charming as she giddily sings the praises of her bandmate. The idea that she stood dancing with Flowers in between verses is a very likely concept.
After the psychedelic swirl of Big Brother & Holding Company Joplin was proving that out on her own she was having way more fun. Of course, Joplin wouldn’t be long for the world but in these performances, she is the embodiment of life itself.