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24 November 2008

Jonmc defends the (semi) defensible. [More:] This band was one of the biggest outfits of the 1970's (selling on the order of 11 million records)and are considered little more than an 'oldies' footnote these days, but for awhile they were omnipresent. Hell, even my parents (possibly the least hip baby-boomers of all time had a copy of their Greatest Hits album). I'm talking about the Three Dog Night. Whatever else you want to say about them they cranked out some great singles and whoever picked their songs had excellent taste.

Mama Told Me Not To Come- penned by Randy Newman, this tale of a naif invited to an orgy was pretty weird top 40 fare for 1973, but it somehow clicked, mainly due to a great vocal hook, I guess.

One - A truly great piece of I'm-so-lonely-I-could-just-die self pity.

Liar-penned by Rod Argent (former Zombie and leader of hard rock pioneers Argent of 'Hold Your Head Up" fame) was behind this nasty little spitfire of a number.

Eli's Coming-penned by blue-eyed soulstress Laura Nyro, this was probably the most soulful number the Night ever did and was really popular during the NY Giants playoff drive last year.

and finally, Joy To The World. This (penned by country legend Hoyt Axton)may be the ultimate "If this dosen't make you smile, at least a little bit, you have no soul" songs. I remember sitting next to blinged out gangsta type at a bar. For about an hour he had done nothing but sip his drink and glower at everyone. When this tune came on the juke, he immediately grinned and started singing along word for word and dancing like a mad fool. This, of course, means that this song is key to solving the worlds problems.

Fun trivia: One of the vocalists, Danny Hutton, was rejected by the Monkees and one of the others managed to somehow blow all the money he made during those days on his heroin addiction. Still, they made some great singles.
My father had a Three Dog Night "Greatest Hits" album that got regular rotation on our hi-fi when I was growing up (in the early 90s). Mama Told Me Not To Come invariably reminds me of dusty speakers and a hideously mottled living room set.
posted by muddgirl 24 November | 17:29
Y'know what's weird? The other day I was listening to some of my younger co-workers talk (this bunch happened to be musicians) and I heard one of them say (straightfaced) that to be truly good, music had to be sad or angry, not happy. I remember thinking that stuff like "I Get Around," "Shout" and of course "Joy To The World" were perfect retorts to that nonsense. Of course this same guy (an otherwise nice kid) said that he didn't like "Cat Scratch Fever" because it had 'stupid lyrics,' which is like going to a barbecue restaurant and complaining about the salad.
posted by jonmc 24 November | 17:33
A band called Wolfgang Press did a pretty cool remake of "Mama Told Me Not To Come" back in the early 90s.
posted by BoringPostcards 24 November | 17:40
i think I remember seeing a video for that, BoPo. It wasn't bad. I've heard Randy Newman's original, too. It's good, but while Randy's a brilliant songwriter, Cory Wells is a far better vocalist.
posted by jonmc 24 November | 17:44
More Trivia: Chuck Negron (lead vocalist on "Joy To The World") is a cousin of standup comic Taylor Negron.
posted by jonmc 24 November | 17:45
There was a singer named Danny Hutton, who, before TDN, had a minor, local hit (Roses and Rainbows are You, or some such thing).

Oh you mention him up there. Well anyway, I bought the first TDN album due to Eli, and also the cover of Neil Young's "The Loner" which, if I remember, came out before Neil's version. Then it was shark, meet hurdle, but I enjoyed the first album a lot before they "hit."

posted by danf 24 November | 17:48
TOTALLY dig 3 Dog Night. Never Been to Spain!
posted by chewatadistance 24 November | 17:53
"Joy to the World" is one of the two songs (the other one being "American Pie") that invariably reminds me of being about five years old, bouncing along in the passenger seat of my dad's 1952 Chevy pickup, which was lovingly nicknamed True Blue.
posted by scody 24 November | 17:55
Joy to the World was the first single I ever owned (at 6 or 7). Great silly, happy song for a kid.
posted by doctor_negative 24 November | 19:18
like going to a barbecue restaurant and complaining about the salad

I am totally stealing this phrase.

posted by BitterOldPunk 24 November | 20:11
Still got my brother's old cassette.
posted by JanetLand 24 November | 21:56
We've still got our (working) BetaMax player.
posted by jonathanstrange 24 November | 21:58
Do you read BikeForums, jonmc?
posted by Doohickie 24 November | 22:50
I love Three Dog Night.

Chuck Negron and his family have been on the show, Intervention. I don't normally watch but I happened to catch this episode. His son, Chucky, is a heroin addict. Chuck Negron wrote a book about his addiction and his son's addiction.
posted by LoriFLA 24 November | 22:52
I have always passionately loved "Mama Told Me..." It's very rare that I can go to a party and not want to turn to my companion and say, in full song-voice "This is the craziest party that could ever be!"

There's a wonderful set to be built by combining that song with "Spill the Wine" and maybe "I'm a Man (M-A-N)" and some other songs that involve more talking than singing.
posted by Miko 24 November | 23:25
Liar! I Love 3DN, they were a big segment of the soundtrack of my youth.
posted by trinity8-director 25 November | 16:10
Hey, wasn't One a Harry Nilsson song originally? I love his version of that.

More trivia: Three Dog Night is slang for waking up next to someone you thought was hot the night before, but not so much now.
posted by Lipstick Thespian 25 November | 17:55
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