Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival. I recall sometime in the late eighties when compact disc players were just becoming reasonable to purchase I was gifted a Sony Discman from my parents for Christmas. I was pretty damn stoked. For me it was the holy grail of Christmas presents, it even had the Mega bass switch! The only drawback to cd player ownership at the time was the cost of media which went for near double what cassette tapes were going for at the time. My parents knew this when they bought me the player and to try to help me out they picked out a selection of titles to tide me over until I had the duckets saved up to make some purchases of my own. Yep, they bought me three discs. Three discs that couldn’t have been any further from what a tween would have been caught dead with at the time. Lynard Skinnard Nuthin’ Fancy, a Southern Rock compilation and a live Creedence Clearwater Revival album “The Concert”. My mom must have been feeling southern during Christmas that year. Anyway, I was disappointed, I was bummed. Here I was with this awesome Discman and all I had to play in it was these extremely uncool bands from my mother’s youth. Sheesh! Regardless I trudged through and found that I could find elements of this music that I enjoyed. I made the best of it. The Lynard Skinnard album was a lost cause, just couldn’t get into it. The other two weren’t so bad though. The Southern Rock comp had some rockin harmonica tunes on it but there were also some misses that I didn’t enjoy. That only left the Creedence Clearwater Revival album. I knew the name.

Creedence Clearewater Revival or CCR was a rock band from San Francisco California. They didn’t last long, only five years, from 1967 to 1972. Their music has been describes as southern rock but the band members themselves were anything but southern perhaps a more accurate later name given for their style is “roots rock”. Back in the late sixties there was crazy stuff going on in the popular music scene. Psychedelic rock was coming into popularity, the big acts like Jimmy Hendrix and Led Zeppelin were coming into their own. Given the environment you wouldn’t think a San Francisco based southern style band wouldn’t do too well. Perhaps their saving grace was signing with Fantasy records. At the time Fantasy was signing soul and jazz acts. CCR’s music was soul-ish so they fit in well on Fantasy’s roster. Unlike many of the major labels at the time Fantasy was a niche label and this allowed CCR to release music unfiltered from a major’s influence that may have attempted to steer them more towards the more popular sounds of the day.

CCR was a four piece, John Fogerty on vocals, Tom Fogerty on guitar, Stu Cook on bass and Doug Clifford on the drums. Despite John and Tom being brothers the band was originally formed around John, Stu and Doug. Tom, John’s older brother, was a vocalist or performed with various acts and was even backed by his little brother’s band from time to time. This early version of CCR was called The Blue Velvets but it wouldn’t last long. Shortly after they were signed to Fantasy and released their first album Tom joined up. Despite Tom’s vocal experience he took the role of guitarist admittingly stepping aside because he felt his brother had the better voice. This lineup would remain unchanged until five years later when inter-band fighting would force Tom out. The band would live on as a three piece for a short while before imploding on itself and disappearing forever. Tom died in the early nineties but you still hear of the other members from time to time. Mostly little side projects, nothing really of note.

I remembered back when I was really young there was a toy called the Pocket Rocker. I never owned a Pocket Rocker but it was some kind of music player for children that had it’s own proprietary tapes. The commercial was loop on television ad infinitum. It was just some piece of garbage marketed to kids, nothing of note, but the commercial itself had a version of a CCR song in it, the song was “Down on the Corner” and the lyrics went “Down on the corner out in the street Pocket Rockers are playing feel the music feel the beat”. It’s been probably 25 years since I’ve heard that song but damned if doesn’t get in my head every time I hear CCR. I don’t know what it is, it’s like musical cocaine.

I’m not terribly qualified to discuss Creedence Clearwater Revival’s discography but in reading about their releases I think it’s safe to say that any of their first four releases are good places to start. I’d probably pickup their second one “Bayou County” first. I think at the time of their second release they were just hitting their stride in terms of excellent song writing.

1) Creedence Clearwater Revival [1968]
2) Bayou Country [1969]
3) Green River [1969]
4) Willy and the Poor Boys [1969]
5) Cosmo’s Factory [1970]
6) Pendulum [1970]

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