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.