Three Dog Night


Three Dog Night

As I wrote about Three Dog Night briefly in the Time Machine this week, I recall writing about them in May, 2008.  I’ve read on the wonderful Both Sides Now “Stereo Bulletin Board” that some of the Three Dog Night singles were vastly re-mixed / re-made, for important AM radio exposure, so I’ve kept my eyes open for Dunhill US original 45’s – I found a lovely promo of my favorite, “Out In The Country”.

An aspect of Three Dog Night that often gets unnoticed is that someone in their organization really knew how to pick the cover versions!  Very hip stuff!  I do not recall reading in either of the Three Dog Night books that I read if anybody in particular suggested the material to them or what.

Their debut album has groovy songs from Randy Newman, Tim Hardin, Neil Young, Harry Nilsson, Danny Whitten (of Crazy Horse) etc. – and songs by Traffic, The Band, even The Beatles…”Suitable For Framing” (their 2nd album) has songs from Elton John, Laura Nyro, and Turtles hitmakers Bonner & Gordon – and another Traffic song – but – for the first time – some original from within the band – Danny Hutton and drummer Floyd Sneed both have originals on this album!  “It Ain’t Easy” was their 3rd album, and probably the one I am most familiar with – Elton John, Randy Newman (2 songs), the British band Free, Ray Davies (of The Kinks – with the song David Bowie would cover on “Ziggy Stardust”), the aforementioned “Out In The Country” being written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols!  The famous single from the 3rd TDN LP is, of course, “Mama Told Me Not To Come” – did you ever hear the version of that song by Eric Burdon & The Animals?

Looking at all of the songwriters mentioned above, I suppose an overly active publisher could’ve put all of these folks together, but…more likely it was a well-connected young-ish person pickin’ the hits.  But as rock music went off into it’s many genres of the 70’s, Three Dog Night kind of got lost in the shuffle – I certainly never got another TDN LP after “It Ain’t Easy”.

70’s moved forward – so did the 80’s, 90’s, ‘00’s – and in 2011, I find myself with somewhat of a soft spot for the better material of Three Dog Night – certainly no argument with any of the songwriters!  And they were a decent band; it was probably a value-for-money live show, too.

But is Three Dog Night in line to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?  Probably not.  They wrote very little of “70’s Rock Music” story – but they certainly had quite a few hit singles.

Is writing your own material important to being taken seriously?  Do actors have to write all of their parts – or do they recite the lines of professional screenwriters?  Why can’t performers / musicians just be performers / musicians – without the stigma of having to write their own ‘successful’ material?

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3 Responses to Three Dog Night

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    Actually, “It Ain’t Easy” was written by Ron Davies, not Ray Davies of The Kinks. This is a common misconception. I had it too, until I was steered straight.

    In full agreement with the good taste in writers covered for Three Dog Night, though! Capable band. Good artistic choices. Widespread popularity. Only mechanical and performing royalties. Since TDN Appleseeded many excellent writers to the public, and fed said writers coffers with much-needed publishing royalties, that alone should be enough to give thanks for. We tend to forget that performers writing their own material is a fairly recent trend in music. Rock “auteur theory” holds a lot of weight and is the linchpin of rock criticism, so it gets entrenched by the rock establishment at every turn. But TDN did a good job in how they pursued their careers. They have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not like they were The Osmonds.

    But even The Osmonds rose to the occasion! “Crazy Horses” totally rocked!!

  2. ronkanefiles says:

    I bet both The Osmonds and TDN played Las Vegas…at the same time!

  3. Brian Ware says:

    Kellan has a subscription to “Modern Drummer” and the most recent issue had a feature on TDN’s drummer. At the time he was considered quite the innovative player, although he notes that he was always “under-recorded” to avoid conflicting with the vocal work. He was a pioneer in the use of acrylic instead of wooden sets, and last but not least he’s Tommy Chong’s brother in law. Whoa… dude….

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