Friday, 22 August 2014

"The Complete Hit Singles" by THREE DOG NIGHT (2004 Geffen/Universal CD Compilation with Erick Labson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Want Some Whisky In Your Water...Sugar In Your Tea..."

On a very cold evening in the Australian outback, an Aborigine hunter would dig a furrow in the ground and bring his dog into the hole with him for bodily warmth. Two dogs were needed for a really bitter night, but the worst night of all was called a THREE DOG NIGHT. Not sure anyone needed to know that, but anyway that's how they got their name! 

The band were:
SKIP KONTE (1974-1976) and JIMMY GREENSPOON – Keyboards
JOE SCHERMIE (1969-1971) and JACK RYLAND (1971-1975) – Bass
FLOYD SNEED – Drums and Percussion

As a rock group with worldwide record sales of over 50 million, THREE DOG NIGHT were a genuine chart phenomenon – especially in the States where they released 23 singles on the Dunhill/ABC label between 1968 and 1976. No less than 21 of them charted in the Top 200  (they were handled by Stateside and Probe in the UK and Europe) and it’s they that are represented here - in truly fantastic sound quality - on this superb 2004 Geffen/UTV Records CD - Catalogue Number B0001779-02 (Barcode 602498614709). Most tracks are specific 7” single mixes recorded precisely for that purpose, many are cover versions and then you had the alternate lead vocalists or combinations of all three. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what’s what (74:32 minutes):

1. “One”, 1969 on Dunhill/ABC 4191, a HARRY NILSSON cover [Chuck Negron Lead Vocal]
2.  “Try A Little Tenderness”, 1969 on Dunhill/ABC 4177, made famous by OTIS REDDING [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
3. “Easy To Be Hard”, 1969 on Dunhill/ABC 4203 [Chuck Negron Lead Vocal]
4. “Eli’s Coming”, 1969 on Dunhill/ABC 4215, a LAURA NYRO cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
5. “Celebrate”, 1969 on Dunhill/ABC 4227 [Hutton, Negron & Wells Shared Lead Vocals]
6. “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”, 1970 on Dunhill/ABC 4239, a RANDY NEWMAN cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
7. “Out In The Country”, 1970 on Dunhill/ABC 4250, a PAUL WILLIAMS/ROGER NICHOLLS cover [Hutton, Negron & Wells Shared Vocals]
8. “One Man Band”, 1970 on Dunhill/ABC 4262 [Negron & Hutton Shared Vocals]
9. “Joy To the World”, 1971 on Dunhill/ABC 4272, a HOYT AXTON cover [Chuck Negron Lead Vocal]
10. “Liar”, 1971 on Dunhill/ABC 4282, a RUSS BALLARD cover [Danny Hutton Lead Vocal]
11. “An Old fashioned Love Song”, 1971 on Dunhill/ABC 4294, a PAUL WILLIAMS cover [Chuck Negron Lead Vocal]
12.  “Never Been To Spain”, 1972 on Dunhill/ABC 4299, a HOYT AXTON cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
13. “The Family Of Man”, 1972 on Dunhill/ABC 4306, a PAUL WILLIAMS/JACL CONRAD cover [Hutton, Negron & Wells Shared Vocals]
14.  “Black & White”, 1972 on Dunhill/ABC 4317 [Danny Hutton Lead Vocal]
15.  “Pieces Of April”, 1972 on Dunhill/ABC 4331 [Chuck Negron Lead Vocal]
16.  “Shambala”, 1973 on Dunhill/ABC 4352, a DANIEL MOORE cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
17.  “Let Me Serenade You”, 1973 on Dunhill/ABC 4370, a JOHN FINLEY of RHINOCERUS cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
18.  “The Show Must Go On”, 1974 on Dunhill/ABC 4382, a LEO SAYER/DAVID COURTNEY cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
19.  “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here”, 1974 on Dunhill/ABC 15001, a JOHN HIATT cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
20.  “Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues)”, 1974 on Dunhill/ABC 15013, an ALLEN TOUSSAINT cover [Cory Wells Lead Vocal]
21.  “Til The World Ends”, 1975 on ABC 12114, a DAVID LOGGINS cover [Chuck Negron Lead Vocal]

The two singles missing from the set that didn’t chart are their 1st, “Nobody”, 1968 on Dunhill/ABC 4168 and their last, “Everybody Is A Masterpiece”, 1976 on ABC 12192. 

Album versions of most of the songs are to be found on the following US LPs:
“Three Dog Night”, 1969 (1 and 2)
“Suitable For Framing”, 1969 (3, 4 and 5)
“It Ain’t Easy”, 1970 (6 and 7)
“Naturally”, 1970 (8, 9 and 10)
“Harmony”, 1971 (11, 12 and 13)
“Seven Separate Fools”, 1972 (14 and 15)
“Cyan”, 1973 (16 and 17)
“Hard Labor”, 1974 (18, 19 and 20)
“Coming Down Your Way”, 1975 (21)

96K/24-Bit Remastered by ERICK LABSON of Universal from the original tapes, the sound quality is BEAUTIFUL if such a word can be applied. I’ve waited years to hear non-hissy clean CD versions of “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”, “Out In The Country” and “Joy To The World” – and this set delivers them in spades. The CLEAR SOUND is startling and makes you reassess each song. 

It’s not all peaches and cream of course – some of the songs like “Black & White” and “Til The World Ends” have dated badly, while the truly cringing Leo Sayer song “The Show Must Go On” is beyond liking and the screeching vocal butchery of Laura Nyro’s “Eli’s Coming” is hard to bear. But then there’s the slightly psych feel to “One Man Band” and the lovely David Cassidy-sounding “Pieces Of April” - both forgotten oldies worth rediscovering.  “Shambala” and “Let Me Serenade You” are not that commonly known on this side of the pond either - and again - deserve rehearing. And then there's that superlative Audio on all the tracks - georgous George all the way.  

"The Complete Hit Singles" by THREE DOG NIGHT is that rare combo - a cheap CD to acquire that isn't cheap where it counts - content and remaster. A must have for fans then - and a great sounding CD for lovers of that 60’s/70’s 45-RPM sound...

This review is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters - Classic 1970s Rock" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). 

Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other SOUNDS GOOD related publications...

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