John’s first solo record “It Ain’t Easy”
was recorded in late 1970, early 1971 and had what became his only big hit. Although it was truly two songs:
- “Intro: Conditional Discharge” and
- “Don’t Try to Lay No Boogie-Woogie on the King of Rock and Roll”
Even the back cover of the album calls it by the later song name but on the record itself you can see that it really is two songs. What makes the song so great is the story Long John Baldry tells in “conditional discharge” about how he was playing his guitar on the streets one day and gets arrested by the police. The 3:00 minute plus story then goes through his court appearance and how the police officer explained why he arrested him to the judge. “Well, I decided that he was contravening a breach of the peace” and after the judge asks what kind of music he was playing the officer says “Oh, well, Mi lord,
It’s a kind of jazz-rhythm music peculiar to the American Black Man.” While Baldry is telling his story there is this funky, blues piano beat by Ian Armitt playing that completes the musical journey.
Then the songs kicks into a new gear as the entire studio band kicks in with King of Rock and Roll. Boogie – Woogie has more of a 1960 rock sound to it then the so called blues that Baldry was best known for and the quick beat doesn’t much change through out the song. Johns deep voice however keeps you going till the end. If you where to listen to only one of the songs without the other they would not make much since. To us it would like listening to Styx‘s: Suite Madame Blue with out Prelude 12.
When we first came upon It Ain’t Easy album we were surprised that one side of the record was produced by Sir Elton John and the other side was produced by Rod Stewart. The list of contributing artists including Ron Wood of The Faces and The Rolling Stones fame, is pretty long and you can look them up at the albums Wikipedia page.
Video Courtesy of Forgotten Rock Classics