Three Dog Night

The Show Must Go On

Composed by David Courtney / Leo Sayer

Song Review by

Three Dog Night's cover of Leo Sayer's stage-fright rocker "The Show Must Go On" would be their final foray into the Top Five during the 1970s. The band took its version to number four in April of 1974 -- two months after Sayer's reading had been issued as a single. The original did not fare as well, failing to grace the Top 40. This may have something to do with the sizable contrast in delivery styles. While Sayer's interpretation is more intimate and displays a vaudevillian undercurrent, Three Dog Night took it in the opposite direction. The ensemble goes all out for a full-blown instrumental excursion that replicates the grandeur associated with "The Greatest Show on Earth." This is practically in direct contrast to the traveling sideshow ambience intimated by Sayer's rinky-dink banjo frailing. Similarly, his inconspicuous sense of paranoia is only hinted at in the lines "Baby, I wish you'd help me escape/Help me get away/Leave me outside my address/Far away from this masquerade." Both artists released the song with two different edits -- a longer one for the respective albums and a shorter one for the 45s. In the case of Three Dog Night, the track concludes 1974's Hard Labor -- their eighth studio effort in six years -- boasting a rather unostentatious ending with the sound effect of a far-off door slamming after the tune winds to a close.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Hard Labor 1974 MCA 4:24
Joy to the World: Their Greatest Hits 1975 MCA 3:37
The Best of Three Dog Night 1983 Geffen 3:27
Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1965-1975 1993 Interscope / MCA 3:48
No Image 1995
AM Gold: 1974 1996
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:37
20 Greatest Hits 1997 DJ Specialist / Mpg 3:28
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Three Dog Night 1999 MCA / Universal 3:45
Greatest Hits [VSOP] 2001 VSOP 3:28
A Year in Your Life: 1974, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Definitive 3:45
Raised on Rock 2002
Various Artists
Goldies 3:27
The Collection 2003 Spectrum Music 3:28
The Complete Hit Singles 2004 UTV 3:45
Best 1200 2005 Universal Distribution
Cyan/Hard Labor 2006 Demon Records / Diablo (UK) 4:27
Icon 2010 Geffen 3:45
blue highlight denotes editor's pick