Sunday, August 11, 2013

B4 3 Dog Nite: Liar

Every second week of the month I feature something that ties a group of songs together. It may be a common songwriter, a common session musician, common instrumentation, a specific theme, or even the same chart position. Three Dog Night was notorious for covering other artists’ songs and making these sleepers into big hits. This week, we are going to look at B4 3 Dog Nite – songs that others did before Three Dog Night made them into hits.

The musical heir apparent of The Zombies was Rod Argent’s band simply christened in his honor as Argent. Their debut single, “Liar,” was released late in 1969 on a minor label owned and operated by CBS – Date Records. Although the band’s predecessor, The Zombies, had a posthumous hit on Date Records earlier the year with “Time of the Season,” CBS felt that the lack of movement on “Liar,” as it failed to chart, may have been due to their being an unknown band on a tertiary tiered label.

CBS quickly moved Argent up to their secondary tier subsidiary of Epic Records for their self-titled debut album release in January 1970; but alas, it would be 1972 before Argent would have a hit record with “Hold Your Head Up” – their only hit. Three other singles charted at #102, #106, and #114 completely missing the Hot 100.  Adding to the misfortune, Argent’s debut album failed to chart in both the US and the UK.

Russ Ballard wrote “Liar,” sang lead on the tune, and he was the band’s guitarist. What makes Argent’s version of the song interesting is Rod Argent’s keyboard work. Through most of the song, he plays an electric piano that interplays mostly with Ballard’s finger picked electric guitar. About midway into “Liar,” a grand piano is added – something you won’t find in the Three Dog Night mix, which follows the Argent arrangement closely with the exception of the guitar lead.

Although Ballard and Argent had a great tune, it took Three Dog Night with Danny Hutton on lead vocals to make it a hit. They released it on their “Naturally” album in November 1970. “Liar” was Three Dog Night’s third hit from the album and it charted at #7 in 1971. Hope you like the original version below.

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