Genre: Southern rock
Preceded by: Bayou Country (1969)
Followed by: Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
Related to: The Band – Music From Big Pink
Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) probably is my favorite classic rock band together with The Beatles and Pink Floyd. That’s partly why it’s already the second album of this band that I write about while still exploring the ‘basics’. It’s also the second album of their famous 1969 trilogy, preceding Willy and the Poor Boys which I treated last time. Talking about trilogies: the album was succeeded by Abbey Road on top of the Billboard 200, which as we know was kicked off his throne by Led Zeppelin II.
CCR had their decisive break-thru earlier in January 1969 with their album Bayou Country and it’s monster hit single ‘Proud Mary’. But instead of getting distracted by hours lasting psychedelic jams like virtually all other Californian bands of that time, they plunged back into the studio and released the single ‘Bad Moon Rising’ a few weeks later, followed later by ‘Green River’. The rest followed in August, brought together on the album Green River.
Green River managed to refine the characterful sound of Bayou Country, opening with the title track, one of my all time Creedence favorites. Fogerty brings a passionate ode to the rural south, supported by a brilliant and simple guitar riff. ‘Green River’ by the way actually was the brand of some drink. Next track is the single’s B-side ‘Commotion’, which instead ridicules the crowded city life. Another personal favorite is ‘Tombstone Shadow’, about a man drenched in bad luck, with Fogerty’s voice being so convincing that you really start to feel bad for the guy he sings about.
Side two of the album contains the other single ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and it’s B-side ‘Lodi’, which became a massive radio hit. The first one (Sonic Youth called an album after it in 1985) kind of differs from the traditional Creedence sound, having a typical rockabilly rhythm. Lyrically the track warns us for what’s about to come on Willy and the Poor Boys and following albums, as Fogerty sings about the danger at the times of Vietnam and Nixon. The second one is a ballad about an artist ending up in the small Californian town Lodi. Although it’s close to Fogerty’s hometown, he never visited it before writing the song and just chose it because he liked the name. Decide for yourself if you want to go there some time after having listened to the song.
The final track on the album is ‘Night Time Is the Right Time’, another remake of one of their favorite fifties songs (having covered ‘I Put a Spell on You’, ‘Susie Q’ and ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ on earlier albums). The Nappy Brown song became a highlight of the band’s live gigs. One of those famous gigs CCR played was on Woodstock, shortly after releasing this album. It was never recorded because The Grateful Dead jammed all night long and far past schedule, but luckily the album is still there.
Top Tracks (thank God other live performances were filmed^^):
Genre: Southern Rock
Preceded by: Green River (1969)
Followed by: Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
Related to: not available yet
Last week I spoke about the heartland rock of Springsteen, which was heavily inspired by the southern rock of the seventies. One of the big representatives of this genre and one of Springsteen’s favorite bands is the Californian formation Creedence Clearwater Revival, most of the times abbreviated as ‘CCR’.
Together with bands like Canned Heat and the Allman Brothers Band, CCR was seen as response to psychedelic and progressive rock, genres that were very dominant in the late sixties. For me, CCR was one of the first classic rock bands I discovered and still is one of my personal favorites. That’s why I highly recommend the last part of the band’s famous ‘1969 trilogy’, Bayou Country–Green River–Willy and the Poor Boys, if you want to discover classic rock. The other two parts will without any doubt follow shortly.
It’s hard to imagine nowadays that one of the big names of the music scene produces three studio albums in one year. CCR had few troubles doing this, just starting to record again shortly after the release of an album. So they did after Green River, and they came up with a great mix between blues rock and some real uptempo rock anthems.
The album starts with the brilliant sing along ‘Down on the Corner’, where the album got his name from (listen to the lyrics). Further on the album you’ll find some typical CCR-blues on tracks like ‘Cotton Fields’ (a Ledbelly cover), ‘Feelin’ Blue’ and ‘The Midnight Special’. The last one was a traditional song among prisoners in the South. The story tells that they were looking from out of their prison windows to a midnight train, which came to pick up prisoners to go home.
But the real power of the album comes from these tracks where singer John Fogerty lets his screaming guitar and his screaming voice sing together: ‘It Came Out of the Sky’ and ‘Fortunate Son’. The last one is a protest song against the Vietnam War and is still one of the few protest songs I remember with a good beat. On top of this, the album closes with the fascinating ‘Effigy’, a song which lasts over 6 minutes, a real rarity for CCR.