The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Three Dog Night


5-29-08 Three Dog Night

CD BEST OF MCA US MCAD-6018

1982 20 TRK Collection

LP GOLDEN BISQUITS PROBE DE 1C062-92167

1972? 10 TRK collection

LP IT AIN'T EASY DUNHILL US DS 50078

1971? 9 TRKS 3rd album, 2nd cover

LP MAMA TOLD ME STATESIDE ES 1J062-91403

1970 9 TRKS It Ain't Easy, completely different packaging

CD MILLENNIUM COLLECTION MCA US 112073.2

2000 12 TRK Collection (70's recordings)

LP SUITABLE FOR FRAMING DUNHILL US DS 50058

1970? 10 TRKS 2nd, G.T.O.'s

LP THREE DOG NIGHT ("ONE") DUNHILL US DS 50048

1970 11 TRKS 1st

Pop music on the chart, for a change!

Well, if you were alive and listening to the radio in 1969 or so – you definitely heard Three Dog Night. I even remember hearing the solo 45 by Danny Hutton – “Roses and Rainbows and You” (or thereabouts)! Took a while for me (as a youth) to understand that they were a band that made almost exclusively ‘cover versions’ – albeit some pretty good ones (I mean…Spooky Tooth???)

And after The Beatles infamous ‘butcher cover’, what were they thinking for that first US cover of “It Ain’t Easy”? The orange cover where they’re all sitting there…nude! Did they graft the heads on? I think even (black) drummer Floyd Sneed had a white guy’s body on ‘im!

So, the charting singles come and go, with varying degrees of annoyance. I never kept any of their records from the time. In the 80’s, I began a project wherein I tried to find and real all of the rock music autobiographies that I could find. In time, I discovered the Jimmy Greenspoon book, about his life with TDN. Drugs, arrests etc. Tough stuff, for the time (this was well before the “Papa John” John Phillips (Mamas & Papas) ‘tell-all’ book). Another member of TDN wrote an “autobiography” (a guitarist?) – and there was strangely no mention of the drugs or arrests in that book.

So it’s 2008, and I can get a laugh by dropping TDN tracks into playlists. “Out In The Country”, their cover of a venerable Paul Williams ‘sunshine pop’ track, is very charming, indeed. I found a $3 CD of their “Best Of” – but it was from something like 1986, and it has real low audio level, so I went for a $3 copy of “Millennium Collection” – less songs, but hopefully a much improved audio level.

So, they got hits with cover versions. Their big time popularity didn’t last very long – but they sure have a lot of songs that nearly everybody can recognize without too much effort. I remember their mid-70’s PBS special. I totally didn’t care at the time – but when we found a Japanese laser disc of it, I confess to watching it with some chart-bound nostalgia. Funny how some stuff shakes out earlier than others.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Jim Donato said...

TDN were a childhood fave. Any band with fairly prominent organ was bound to get a nod from me! "Naturally" was the first LP I ever bought, from the drug store. It was NOT even a cutout at the time! Russ Ballard's "Liar" was a cool hit! These guys were insanely popular for a good 4-5 years, but they owned none of their publishing, so it was all concerts and sales that made their fortune. And I'm guessing their fortunes are pretty thin around now! But they had some big hits with [mostly] great songs from venerable songwriters. Overall, a force of good I'd say.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Brian Ware said...

Three Dog Night was my first concert. Probably around 1971? I remember it being a really good show. I made a set of old school rock CDRs for a friend's 50th birthday party just this past weekend and stuck "Celebrate" on. A great singles band.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

I have both the 20 track "Best of" CD and the 12 track "Millennium Edition - 20th Century Masters". Very hip cover versions. AM radio - but - thumbs up!

6:55 AM  
Blogger chas_m said...

My dad was OBSESSED with this band for no reason I could ever figure out. I have heard "Joy to the World" more times than any other song EVER.

To me, they (along with the Guess Who, Paper Lace, Cat Stevens, the Beach Boys and a handful of others) crystalise the early 70s, post-Beatles world. In retrospect, the songcraft of most "AM Radio" type bands from the 60s and 70s has held up pretty well, and this was kind of a "golden period" when rock and "funk R&B" went completely unchallenged as the dominant musical styles.

It wouldn't be long before Disco, Punk and New Wave would challenge all that ...

2:20 AM  

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