After a remarkable string of hits through 1969, Three Dog Night released It Ain't Easy, its fourth album in less than 18 months. Once again, it was a hot seller, going to number eight. Once again, it consisted primarily of songs written by some of rock music's best, but as yet unheralded, composers. And this time, the group had its first number one hit, a memorable version of Randy Newman's fear-of-partying song "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)." Although much more melodramatic than Newman's own understated take on his 12 Songs album, Three Dog Night's rendering was cleverly orchestrated and impossible to escape. It Ain't Easy also included another Newman composition, "Cowboy," the song he'd written for Midnight Cowboy, which was rejected by the filmmakers in favor of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'." The album also provided a taste of Free with "Woman," Paul Williams' attractive "Out in the Country," and a Cynthia Weil-Barry Mann composition, "Good Time Living." The Elton John classic "Your Song" makes its first appearance on this album as well, predating his own recorded version by several months. Considering how dependent Three Dog Night was on outside songsmiths to provide them with the material they popularized, it is surprising that none of the album jackets of their first four albums contained printed writing credits. The curious listener had to look to the labels on the records in order to track down who had written these first-rate compositions.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Newsom