Song of the Week – It Ain’t Easy; Three Dog Night, Long John Baldry, David Bowie, Ron Davies

Ignored            Obscured             Restored

There’s a song that was recorded several times in a short period of time in 1970-1971 by major Rock artists.  You probably are familiar with “It Ain’t Easy” by one of them.

If you were into MOR Rock you would know the version by Three Dog Night.

If you favored British, blues-based Rock you may have heard Long John Baldry’s take.

If you were into Glam Rock you definitely heard the cut on David Bowie’s … Ziggy Stardust… album.

But despite the exposure from all these renditions, I’ll bet you never heard the original by the song’s composer, Ron Davies.

Davies was a talented songwriter that never broke through with commercial success.  “It Ain’t Easy” was on his acclaimed album Silent Song Through the Land (1970).  Unfortunately, that album isn’t available to stream on Spotify, and vinyl copies on Discogs command a pretty penny.

The Three Dog Night version was released on their album of the same name in 1970.  It was their fourth release in 18 months!  That’s a remarkable achievement, even for a band that curated its repertoire from other songwriters, and one of the four was a live album.

Baldry’s recording was also on an album with the same name (1971).  This is the album that was produced by Rod Stewart (side one) and Elton John (side two).  “It Ain’t Easy” was on the Stewart side and was backed by a number of the musicians that supported him on the Every Picture Tells a Story album.  Maggie Bell is the sassy female vocalist harmonizing with Baldry.

Bowie’s take was initially recorded for the Hunky Dory sessions but was ultimately left off that album.  But he brought it back and placed it at the end of side one of Ziggy.  Ultimately that was an odd choice since “It Ain’t Easy” does not fit with the thematic content of the rest of Ziggy Stardust.  But as I’ve said many times in the SotW… you can’t keep a good song down!

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Turn to Me, Plastic Penny; Lady Samantha, Three Dog Night; Bad Side of the Moon, Toe Fat; Rock Me When He’s Gone, Long John Baldry



Elton John and Bernie Taupin began writing songs together in the late 60s. Many bands recognized their talent and recorded their songs before Elton John became a worldwide, cementing their songs in rock history. Today’s post recognizes a few of them.

Plastic Penny was a psychedelic pop band from England and included drummer Nigel Olsson who later became a key member of John’s recording and touring band. “Turn to Me” was on their 1969 UK released album, Currency. To the best of my knowledge “Turn to Me” never received a proper recording by John although a demo version does exist and can be found on YouTube.

“Lady Samantha” was recorded during the sessions for John’s first album, Empty Sky but wasn’t included on the original album. Instead it was released as a single in January 1969. Three Dog Night found the song and recorded a version for their second album Suitable for Framing, released in June 1969, more than a year before John would gain stardom in the US with his first hit “Your Song”, released in October 1970 and peaked in the charts at #8 in January 1971.

Toe Fat’s recording of “Bad Side of the Moon” was on an album released in May 1970. The song came from the Elton John sessions but wasn’t on that 2nd album. It was the B-side to the single release of “The Border Song”, another cut from Elton John. It also came out on the live 11/17/70, a radio broadcast from WABC (later WPLJ) in NYC, that was released in the US in April 1971. Toe Fat featured multi-instrumentalist Ken Hensley who left the band to start the hard rock band Uriah Heep.

Long John Baldry recorded two albums with an interesting concept. Each had one side produced by Rod Stewart and the other by Elton John. His 1971 album It Ain’t Easy included a John/Taupin song called “Rock Me When He’s Gone.” This song was written during John’s Madman Across the Water sessions but didn’t make it onto the album. John’s version didn’t see the light of day until the 1992 release of his set of unreleased recordings, Rare Masters.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Let Me Go, The Rockets and Three Dog Night


Today’s SotW is about a band that is a mere footnote in rock ‘n roll history, but an important one at that – at least if you’re a Neil Young fan.

Back in 1968 a band called The Rockets released their one and only album. The band was made up of Danny Whitten (guitar), Billy Talbot (bass), Ralph Molina (drums), guitarist brothers Leon and George Whitsell and Bobby Notkoff (violin). It’s been said that the album only sold about 5,000 copies, but it came to the attention of Neil Young who recruited half the band – Whitten, Talbot and Molina – to be the backing band for his second solo album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. He renamed the band Crazy Horse and the rest is history.

The SotW is Danny Whitten’s “Let Me Go” from that 1968 album by The Rockets.

It starts with about one minute of vocals then goes on for more than 2 and a half minutes of guitar jamming that often sounds more like a chain saw than a musical instrument. (That’s a good thing in this case.) You can clearly see why the “Godfather of Grunge” Young was so intrigued by their sound.

But Young wasn’t the only one listening. Back when Three Dog Night was cool (yes, they were cool for a few albums) before they resorted to recording dreck like “Joy to the World” and “Black and White”, they were covering tunes by some of the best unknown songwriters of the day. Their first hit, “One”, was written by Harry Nilsson. They also performed songs by Laura Nyro, Randy Newman, The Band and Traffic.

As a Beatles fan, I was confused by the Lennon/McCartney credit given to a song on their first album that I’d never heard called “It’s For You.” It was many years later when I learned the Beatles never recorded it. Instead they gave it to another artist Brian Epstein managed, Cilla Black, who took it to #7 in the UK. (It didn’t chart in the US which partially explains my ignorance.)

One of my favorite songs from their sophomore effort, Suitable for Framing, was “Lady Samantha”, written by an as yet undiscovered Elton John.

And this all leads me back to “Let Me Go” as recorded by TDN on their debut.

While The Rockets version is a worthy psych/garage take, TDN makes it a shorter, tighter pop song. It has more spark and puts a spotlight on their harmony vocals. I have to admit, I like it better. How about you?

Enjoy… until next week.