Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's For You...Times Three

Of all the songs Lennon & McCartney had given away, Cilla Black's hit "It's For You" was never a favorite. I don't dislike the song as much as I dislike the grating, Shirley Bassey delivery of Black. I haven't thought about this tune in...well...maybe ever, really.

Then last week, my friend Bob calls to gush over a new discovery, the debut LP from Three Dog Night. We volleyed for 15 minutes. "Yeah, the hits were great." "Well, not Joy To The World." "Yeah, Black & White kinda sucks, too." "But have you heard the first album?" "Not really." "Oh boy! Check out 'It's For You.'"

Bob still can't believe, or more accurately recognize this tune as a Lennon/McCartney composition. But more to the point, I'm thinking Three Dog Night may have lost some serious street cred thanks to a few of their hokey hits. And while the 1969 debut, also known as "One" is a bit uneven, the choice of covers which include The Band's "Chest Fever," Neil Young's "The Loner," Traffic's "Heaven Is In Your Mind," as well as a version of Johnny "Guitar" Watson and Larry Williams hit with Kaleidoscope "Nobody," are solid and make this record worthy of repeated spins.

It should also be noted that Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells were backed by the same four musicians for most of their career. Three Dog Night were indeed a band.

Here are three versions of "It's For You."  Cilla Black's original. Three Dog Night's cover. And The Beatnix, an Australian Beatles tribute band, whose 1998 release "It's Four You," covers all of the Lennon/McCartney tracks that were never recorded by The Beatles.



buzzbabyjesus said...

Paul did a version of "Goodbye" during The White album sessions.
I had an equally hard time with the other two. I could hear Lennon and McCartney in Cilla's but not in
Three Dog Night, who were definitely a real band with an an ear for a tune. "Mama Told Me Not To Come" is a way cooler reading than Randy's original on "12 Songs".

William Repsher said...

Three Dog Night were great because of their "hokey" hits. Joy to the World? Black and White? Show Must Go On? You're talking early/mid 70s AM radio nirvana. That band was great at blurring the lines between "higher" art and pure pop ... so that I can find a Randy Newman cover just as palatable as "Jeremiah was a bull frog, etc.". (It's interesting that they had hits with a goofy Hoyt Axton song like that, and a somewhat better Axton song like "Never Been to Spain". Shel Silverstein wrote a lot of good songs .. but will always be remembered for Dr. Hook's "Cover of the Rolling Stone" -- a similar concdept here.)

It helped to be in grade school at the time to appreciate the genius of Joy to the World!

Similar topic with my Dick Wagner book/Alice Cooper in that critical consensus was Alice Cooper was better/more believable pre-Welcome to My Nightmare (i.e., with his original band). In my mind, that's his best album. He may have gone too poppy/ballad heavy after that, but that album was huge in its time ... for good reason.

Sal Nunziato said...

I should point out, I LOVED "Joy To The World" back then. Same with "Black & White." But like most tunes that lean toward novelty, they don't age well.

Sal Nunziato said...

By the way, the wrong Beatnix video has been posted for the last 5 hours. It is now corrected.

Anonymous said...

Three Dog Night is every bit as deserving of RRHOF as Four Tops.
That is my controversial statement of 2014.