Posts Tagged ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’

Craft Recordings continue their salute to the enduring musical legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival with the official release of half speed mastered editions of the band’s two final albums: 1970’s Pendulum and 1972’s Mardi Gras.

Continuing the 50th anniversary celebration of America’s all-time greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, with the release of 180-gram, half-speed mastered editions of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s final two studio albums; 1970’s Pendulum and 1972’s Mardi Gras. Both LPs were mastered at Abbey Road Studios and come housed in beautifully crafted jackets replicating the albums’ original packaging.

Pendulum marked CCR’s second release of 1970—following Cosmo’s Factory—and was the group’s sole record to feature all original material. The album found the guitar-heavy group expanding their sonic palate—experimenting with new sounds (including the use of saxophones, vocal choirs, and keyboards) and even venturing into psychedelia. Pendulum spawned two global Top Ten hits: “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Hey Tonight.”

CCR’s seventh and final studio album, Mardi Gras, followed the departure of founding member and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty. Highlights off the album include a cover of the rockabilly classic “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the John Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker.” The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” meanwhile, marked the group’s final single.

Roughly half a century later, fans can enjoy a new vibrancy when they revisit these albums, thanks to the exacting process of half-speed mastering. Working from high-res transfers from the original analogue tapes, the half-speed mastering technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, resulting in more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. The result on the turntables is an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch.

Both titles are available now via Craft Recordings. 

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50th anniversary pressing of the penultimate studio album from America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band; first released in 1970 at the peak of Creedence’s prolific career. Includes the hits “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Hey Tonight” and more. The album was mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. This 180-gram vinyl comes housed in a tip-on jacket replicating the original pressing packaging. During 1969 and 1970, CCR was dismissed by hipsters as a bubblegum pop band and the sniping had grown intolerable, at least to John Fogerty, who designed “Pendulum” as a rebuke to critics.

He spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side. To some fans of classic CCR, this approach may feel a little odd since only “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and maybe its B-side “Hey Tonight” sound undeniably like prime Creedence. But, given time, the album is a real grower, revealing many overlooked Fogerty gems. Yes, it isn’t transcendent like the albums they made from Bayou Country through Cosmo’s Factory, but most bands never even come close to that kind of hot streak. Instead, Pendulum finds a first-class songwriter and craftsman pushing himself and his band to try new sounds, styles, and textures. His ambition results in a stumble — “Rude Awakening 2” portentously teeters on the verge of prog-rock, something CCR just can’t pull off — but the rest of the record is excellent, with such great numbers as the bluesy groove “Pagan Baby” the soulful vamp “Chameleon” the moody “It’s Just a Thought,” and the raver “Molina” Most bands would kill for this to be their best stuff, and the fact that it’s tucked away on an album that even some fans forget illustrates what a tremendous band Creedence Clearwater Revival was.

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Mardi Gras

50th anniversary pressing of the final studio album from America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band; first released in 1972. Highlights include a cover of “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”a Top Ten hit in the US, Australia, Canada, and across Europe. The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” marked the group’s final single. Mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. This 180-gram vinyl comes housed in an embossed jacket replicating the original packaging. Pared down to a trio, Creedence Clearwater Revival had to find a new way of doing business, since already their sound had changed, so they split creative duties evenly. It wasn’t just that each member wrote songs  they produced them, too.

Doug Clifford and Stu Cook claim John Fogerty needed time to creatively recharge, while Fogerty says he simply bowed to the duo’s relentless pressure for equal time. Both arguments make sense, but either way, the end result was the same: “Mardi Gras” was a mess. Not a disaster, which it was dismissed as upon its release, since there are a couple of bright moments. Typically, Fogerty is reliable, with the solid rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” the country ramble “Lookin’ for a Reason” a good cover of Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou,” and the pretty good ballad “Someday Never Comes” These don’t match the brilliance of previous CCR records, but they sparkle next to Clifford and Cook’s efforts.

That implies that their contributions are terrible, which they’re usually not they’re just pedestrian. Only “Sail Away” is difficult to listen to, due to Cook’s flat, overemphasized vocals, but he makes up for it with the solid rocker “Door to Door” and the Fogerty soundalike “Take It Like a Friend.” Clifford fares a little better since his voice is warmer and he wisely channels it into amiable country-rock, yet these are pretty average songs by two guys beginning to find their own song writing voice. If Clifford and Cook had started their own band (which they did after this album) it would be easier to be charitable, but when held up against Creedence’s other work, Mardi Gras withers. It’s an unpretty end to a great band.

Pendulum was the follow-up to the band’s chart-topping Cosmo’s Factory, and peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200. The accompanying Mardi Gras is CCR’s swan song, with it being the only album the band made without rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, who left the group in 1971

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The Tiny Desk Concert is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space. April 24, 2020 – When John Fogerty breaks out his baseball bat guitar and swings into that famous guitar lick from “Centerfield” to open his Tiny Desk (home) concert, I can almost taste the Cracker Jacks. Welcome to Fogerty’s Factory, the tricked-out basement where the Fogerty Family (John, his sons Tyler and Shane, and his daughter Kelsy) make music in these quarantined times.

His desk is the road case his band Creedence Clearwater Revival used when they played Woodstock, and John shows off a guitar he played at the festival as well. He plays three of his CCR classics from 50 years ago (still singing in the same key), surrounded by family and sending out words of encouragement to all of us.

Set List: “Centerfield” “Down On The Corner” “Long As I Can See The Light” “Proud Mary”

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John Fogerty is getting an early start to sharing new music in 2021. The legendary songwriter and Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman has released “Weeping in The Promised Land,” a reflection on the state of the country over this past year. John Fogerty is no fan of President Donald Trump; the former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader even issued a cease-and-desist order (promptly ignored) this fall when “Fortunate Son” was cranked during Trump rallies. Now, Fogerty will be sending Trump off in his own way — with “Weeping in the Promised Land,” the 75-year-old rocker’s first new song in eight years. “It’s kind of like being a rock star in a band and then the band breaks up,” Fogerty says of Trump’s refusal to step down — and his affinity for rallies. “I used to stand in front of 30,000 or 40,000 people and they were all cheering for me. I know what that is. I understand the emotion he’s feeling. I’m trying not to sound like a basher — more like trying to understand the situation. I think he enjoys the rallies very much.” 

In lyrics that touch on the dispiriting events of the last year, Fogerty references Trump’s attacks on Anthony Fauci (“He dances on their bones/Pharaoh shoutin’ down the medicine man”), health care workers (“With dread in their eyes, all the nurses are crying/Everywhere sorrow, everywhere dying”), and the murder of George Floyd (“Out in the street / On your neck with a knee / The people are cryin’ / Your words ‘I can’t breathe’ and the white judge say been no crime here”).

“I took a look back at what 2020 has been and tried to get my feelings out about the political climate, Black Lives Matter, COVID and everything else that occurred this year,” Fogerty said (via press release). “Friends are dying, we are stuck at home, we are indeed weeping in the promised land.”

Centered around Fogerty’s voice and piano, with only a handful of gospel singers accompanying him, the song marks a return to the socially conscious themes that powered Creedence anthems like “Fortunate Son” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain.”

Fogerty has kept busy during quarantine. In November 2020, he released Fogerty’s Factory, an album of his classic songs performed by him and his family.

The former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader and three of his kids remake classic tracks by the band (“Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising”), as well as select covers (“Lean on Me,” “City of New Orleans”). While self-quarantining together the Fogerty Family recreated the cover of Cosmo’s Factory transforming it to Fogerty’s Factory. The family have also taken to their home studio during this isolation to create some music together, The Family Band. “Bringing a little light from our home to yours. We are having a little family fun together during the pandemic. It’s such a great feeling to be making and playin’ music surrounded by love. We all need to celebrate the life we have and remember how precious it is. I love music, I am listening every day. Makes everything feel better for me. Put the records on, pull out the old guitar, turn the radio up.. and dance to the music!” – John Fogerty.

With his new album, Fogerty’s Factory, Fogerty enlisted his children Shane, Tyler and Kelsy to revisit some choice songs from his classic catalogue as well as covers that he always felt a fondness for.  Spawned from a series of weekly videos filmed by his wife Julie on her iPhone while killing time during the pandemic, the idea eventually gelled into an actual album that replicates the cover of the quintessential Creedence albumCosmo’s Factory, right down to its cover design and the typeface text.

“Fogerty’s Factory” finds John Fogerty revisiting Creedence Clearwater Revival classics and other cover songs with an impromptu family band formed during the coronavirus lockdown. Some songs you might recognize from John’s historical career are ‘Proud Mary,’ ‘Fortunate Son,’ ‘Down on the Corner,’ ‘Centerfield,’ and tons more! Although in his 70s, John shows no signs of slowing down, creating new music and continuing to tour the world, so be sure to tune in, subscribe, and keep on the pulse of all things John Fogerty.

Coming to you a day early due to the long weekend, this week Fogerty’s Factory performs Arlo Guthrie’s version of “City Of New Orleans” ( written by Steve Goodman) live from the farm! ‘Good morning, America, how are you?’ Now that is an important question. You all take care of yourselves.

While the Quarantine continues the Fogerty Family – Shane and Tyler (Hearty Har) and Kelsy – will be joining their Dad for some musical fun covering songs from the classic Fogerty collection.

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Consistency was a hallmark of Creedence Clearwater Revival in more ways than one. During the Northern California rock band’s prime, there really was no such thing as a long wait for the next CCR album, with the group pumping out five studio albums in two years.

Without hesitation or ambiguity, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford agree that CCR’s output was fuelled in large part by a steady thought running through the mind of singer, songwriter and guitarist John Fogerty: If Creedence dropped off the charts, the public would forget about the band.

Cook says he doesn’t know where Fogerty came up with that idea, but at the same time, Cook theorizes that CCR “was treated too well by radio,” meaning stations cycled through the band’s singles at an accelerated pace.

“They always flipped the singles over and played the B-side,” he explains. “They killed the A-side early and flipped it. So we had a lot of platinum singles, but we were going through them like wildfire. We didn’t get the normal chart life out of any one song; two songs kept us on the charts about as long as one and half songs (would have for another band).”

He adds, “Creedence was a singles band, and when we had enough singles, then we would go into the studio and crank out the remainder, and then we had an album.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival released its self-titled debut album on Fantasy Records in 1968. Then the band pumped out three albums in 1969: Bayou Country, Green River  and Willy and the Poor Boys, with “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Down on the Corner” among their Billboard Hot 100 hits that year. The steady output continued into the new decade, withCosmo’s Factory arriving in July 1970 and eventually spending nine weeks at No. 1 on the American charts. And while in many ways it’s true to the CCR albums that came before and after, Cosmo’s Factory also stands apart for subtle as well as significant reasons.

Preceding an album’s release with a single was typical for Creedence, but with Cosmo’s Factory, the band issued two singles well in advance. “Travellin’ Band”/“Who’ll Stop the Rain” entered the Billboard Hot 100 in late January 1970, followed by “Up Around the Bend”/“Run Through the Jungle” in late April. From the subsequent sessions that filled out the 11-song album came another two-sided single, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”/“Long As I Can See the Light,” which hit the Hot 100 in early August.

In classic Creedence fashion, most of the singles were short recordings, but Fogerty, Cook, Clifford and guitarist Tom Fogerty outdid themselves with the feverish, saxophone-supported “Travellin’ Band,” which barely surpasses two minutes.

“Well, ‘Travellin’ Band’ is a tribute to the great Little Richard,” Cook says. And in coming up with his part, Cook put himself in the position of the bassist who played in the rock pioneer’s backing band.

“If we’re going to borrow from Little Richard, let’s go all the way and be true to the whole thing,” Cook adds. “So I just picked a simple bass part that drove it and didn’t get in the way. It was well within my playing skills.”

Conversely, Cosmo’s Factory contains two of the longer tracks in the Creedence catalogue. The 11-minute cover version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” had humble beginnings. This was an idea of John’s that started out very loosely as presented to the band, and we basically jammed for weeks,” Cook says. “We jammed the jam, back and forth (on the chords), for a couple of hours per day, Monday through Friday. And then a week before we went into the studio to record it, John said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m sticking “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” on the front of (the jam).’ And we said, ‘Sounds good to us.’ ” Cook adds, “The jam was really a jam; it was probably Creedence’s only jam. We all threw ideas around, and each of us as players kept coming back and refining the stuff that we thought individually and collectively worked best on the track. And when the red light was on, all we had to do was fall back on the stuff we’d been jamming on for some period of time, and it went down in one or two takes, like most Creedence recordings.” Normally, Clifford would have his drum parts planned out, but that wasn’t entirely the case with “Grapevine.”

“When we were cutting it, it reached a magic point where there are things I had never played before and John had never played before,” he recalls. “That was pretty exciting, and at the end, when we had the take, I said, ‘I kinda varied on some spots.’ And he said, ‘So did I,’ and that was rare for him to (do that).”

Then there’s “Ramble Tamble,” the long and intricate track that opens the album. “The song, to a nonmusical ear, has a good flow, has different parts and fits together well,” Cook says, “but it’s very strict in its sections that, when combined, make up the entire arrangement, which was completely unlike what the other Bay Area bands were doing at the time.” Over the course of the song’s seven-plus minutes, Clifford incorporates a double-time beat and also a steady-snare Motown-style beat. “The tough part in that song was slowing down the tempo, and (it was also a challenge) bringing it back (up) — and it had to be exactly right, or the song didn’t work,” Clifford says.

Cosmo’s Factory closes with the slow, soulful “Long As I Can See the Light,” which like “Travellin’ Band” features saxophone. Yet it’s Clifford’s high-hat work as the song winds down that stands out, the result of him switching from 14-inch to 18-inch high-hat cymbals. “I wanted a more melodic tone from the high-hat,” says Clifford. But in that quest, he encountered a problem: Due to the weight of the bigger high-hat cymbals, he couldn’t get them to open. “So I went to the hardware store and got a spring, put it in there, cut it down to size, put it back in, and it worked perfectly,” he says. “I opened them up at the end of that song, and they were really screaming — wide open, just pounding them with the shank of the stick, trying to get as much wood on them as possible.”

The ominous opening to “Run Through the Jungle” was the result of some experimentation.

“We had a (toy version of a) kalimba, the African finger piano — that, with a slowed-down backward tape, just trying to use some of the techniques that George Martin was using at the time,” says Cook. “A guitar string being hit, then tuned at the same time — tuning it up, then down. Speeding things up, slowing them down so they got a surreal texture. Laying that all onto the multitrack, then trying to come up with a blend.”

Clifford credits John Fogerty with coming up with the title for Cosmo’s Factory, and the factory itself was the band’s rehearsal space in Berkeley at 1230 Fifth St., where the album cover photo was shot by another Fogerty brother, Bob.

Like every CCR album cover up to this point, Cosmo’s Factory showed all four members of the band — only this time, there were plenty of props, too.

“Coming up with any kind of a picture is not quite as hard as coming up with a band name, but what do you do?” Cook says. “We took a bunch of junk that was laying around … the Lite-Brite kit (positioned under Tom’s raised feet). Doug was on his 15-speed bike. John had his motorcycle; I was laying on the floor playing some toy piano.” “I rode that bike to work every day,” adds Clifford. “I lived up in the hills, seven and a half miles away. Coming to practice was all downhill, and going home after playing drums for hours, it was (uphill through the traffic).”

Five decades later, Cosmo’s Factory remains the bestselling non-compilation album in the Creedence Clearwater Revival catalogue, with the Recording Industry Association of America bestowing multiplatinum status for sales of 4 million. CCR’s heyday wrapped with Pendulum, released in late 1970, and the band broke up after 1972’s Mardi Gras.

Even though its title contains Clifford’s nickname, Cosmo’s Factory is the drummer’s second favourite CCR album. At the top, he says, is Bayou Country, and for good reasons: “It wasn’t too far away from when we were playing in the bars, six nights a week, five sets a night. And ‘Born on the Bayou’ is my favourite Creedence song of all time.”

Cook describes Creedence as “an incredible rocket ride” that followed “nine and a half years of struggling,” during which the band went by other monikers, such as The Golliwogs.

“Now I can look back 50 years later (at Cosmo’s Factory) and go, ‘Well, I still love it,’ ” he adds. “It’s a great album.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Cosmo's Factory Album Review | Pitchfork

In 1970, there was no band working harder than Creedence Clearwater Revival, the swamp-rock kingpins from California. “Cosmo’s Factory”, was their fifth LP in 24 months, It came out in May that year, and even though it was part of on onslaught that would continue with another LP later in 1970 (they’d finally take 1971 off from releasing new albums), it would become the band’s biggest album, launching their biggest hits and topping the charts around the world.

Now, 50 years later, Cosmo’s Factory is back on vinyl for its anniversary, pressed by VMP on color vinyl and half-speed remastered from original sources. Creedence Clearwater Revival went on rock radio sometime in the ‘60s, and basically never left. If you’ve listened to classic rock radio anytime since the format was invented, you’ve heard dozens of their songs, and Cosmo’s Factory is largely why. This album has wall-to-wall hits, which is why it topped the charts in at least six countries, and strangely, even charted as an R&B album thanks to the stellar cover of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” .

But that’s not the only hit on this album: Cosmo’s Factory has “Run Through The Jungle” and “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” two songs that spoke to the Vietnam experience happening for many of the group’s hometown peers. While other bands spoke to the counterculture and were considered “cooler” than CCR ever was, Creedence made music for the Middle American teenagers forced into serving in Vietnam by the draft.

Those three songs would be enough to make the album a hit, but this one tacked on “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Ramble Tamble,” “Up Around the Bend,” and “Long As I Can See The Light,” all deepcut staples of classic rock. The group would tour the world as conquering heroes in 1970 and 1971, and disband after 1972’s Mardi Gras, their impact on rock cemented in just one presidential term.

The album was mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, pressed on 180g vinyl comes housed in a ‘tip-on’ jacket (high quality thick card sleeve with cover art ‘pasted on’) replicating the original pressing packaging.

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John Fogerty performs Creedence Clearwater Revival classics in the latest installment of Rolling Stone’s “In My Room,” a new IGTV series in which musicians perform from their homes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Fogerty’s performance follows Brian Wilson‘s and Angelique Kidjo‘s. The clip opens with Fogerty sitting in his yard, decked in his signature flannel and accompanied by his dog named Creedence. “These are certainly different times that we’re living through,” he says. “Wash your hands … nobody really knows how long this is going to last, but the better we do at taking the advice of medical people, the shorter it will be.”

“I’m sure we’re all going stir crazy after 10 days or so of doing this,” he continued. “And I thought I’d go outside and get some fresh air and maybe sing a couple of songs. Be well, everyone.”

He then struck the acoustic guitar with the iconic strum from “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” off of 1971’s Pendulum. “Someone told me long ago/There’s a calm before the storm,” he sings. “I know, it’s been comin’ for some time.”

It’s long been thought that “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” is about the Vietnam War, with the rain symbolizing bombs. However, Fogerty diffused this to Rolling Stone in 1993, saying it was about CCR and the tension they were experiencing, ultimately leading to their breakup in 1972. “That song is really about the impending breakup of Creedence,” he said. “The imagery is, you can have a bright, beautiful, sunny day and it can be raining at the same time. The band was breaking up. I was reacting: ‘Geez, this is all getting serious right at the time when we should be having a sunny day.’ “

The scene then shifts to inside Fogerty’s home studio, as he appears in a different flannel shirt (one must wonder what his closet looks like) and performs the beloved CCR song “Bad Moon Rising.” “Look’s like we’re in for nasty weather,” he suspects. “One eye is taken for an eye.”

For the final song, “Long As I Can See the Light,” Fogerty relocates to a piano in his living room, flanked by candles and a fireplace behind him. He performs the tender track from 1970’s Cosmo’s Factorysinging, “Put a candle in the window/’Cause I feel I’ve gotta move/Though I’m going, going/I’ll be coming home soon.”

Fogerty’s upcoming shows in April have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

On August 2nd, Craft Recordings will release the Official full hour-long concert by Creedence Clearwater Revival in a 50th year celebration of the appearance at the Woodstock Festival. The show delivered a classic run-through of eleven well-known CCR songs. This historic show will be delivered on vinyl 2LP package. The set will be called “Live At Woodstock”.

Woodstock has long been considered the classic Rock and Roll event by which ALL festivals pattern, govern, and aspire to. To date, none have superseded the event. Many bands refused to go and be a part of soon to be historic festival, but for those that did, they forever became a strong tie-in to Woodstock. One of those bands was Creedence Clearwater RevivalCCR were at a peak and this hour-long set helped to contribute to their growing fame. I’m sure no band ever regretted joining this ‘at the time’ unsure festival plagued with everything that could possibly go wrong.

This long sought-after release celebrates the 50th anniversary of Woodstock by giving fans a front-row seat to relive Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hour-long set as it was performed that historic night in August of 1969. Kicking off with “Born on the Bayou,” the album features the band’s biggest singles of the day including “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” and more. Full of creative energy, John, Tom, Stu, and Doug delve deep into their music, playing extended improvisations of “I Put a Spell on You,” “Keep on Chooglin’” and “Suzie Q.”

Taken from Creedence Clearwater Revival “Live At Woodstock”, available August 2 via Craft Recordings.

Billy Joel to play Madison Square Garden March 21, 2019

Billy Joel was eleven songs into his set at Madison Square Garden last week when he stopped to briefly address the crowd. “Coming out to do a song or two with us,” he said, “please welcome John Fogerty!” With that, the former Creedence Clearwater Revival bandleader ran out onstage as the band kicked into CCR’s 1970 hit “Up Around The Bend.” They followed it up with a powerful version of “Fortunate Son.”.

It’s the first time that Fogerty has guested with Billy Joel at his Madison Square Garden residency, where he’s played with everyone from Miley Cyrus and Paul Simon to John Mayer, Steve Miller, Tony Bennett and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson. Joel turns 70 on May 9th and he’s celebrating with a show at MSG where it feels practically inevitable that he’ll be joined by at least one or two more surprise guests.

John Fogerty was in New York City to appear at a press event at New York’s Electric Lady Studios to announce the lineup for Woodstock 50. He’s one of many vets from the original festival that will be returning. “I don’t expect it to be the same,” Fogerty told the media. “The mood in the country is different, similar in many respects, but different. I’m very glad that I’m able to be here 50 years later celebrating it. I hope to have a great time. I’m going to be playing most of the same songs that I played then. I’ve had a few more songs since then. But I think culturally, for me, it resonates because it was such a watershed moment in the time of my generation.”

John Fogerty with Billy Joel at MSG 21st March 2019

Creedence Clearwater Revival at the Fillmore

Craft Recordings is continuing the 50th anniversary celebration of Creedence Clearwater Revival.  In 1968, John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook released their first album together, providing the perfect soundtrack for a tumultuous period in American history. Over just seven albums issued between 1968 and 1972, the band’s rootsy rock-and-roll sensibility yielded such all-time classic hits as “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Down on the Corner,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.” Last November, Craft Recordings released a deluxe box set containing CCR’s complete seven-album studio discography in new half-speed masterings by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios.  On March 15th, those new 180-gram, half-speed mastered editions of the first two albums –“Creedence Clearwater Revival” and “Bayou Country” will receive stand-alone LP releases.

In its press release for the box, Craft described the mastering procedure for these albums: “Using high-res transfers from the original analog tapes, the half-speed mastering process involves playing back audio at half its recorded speed while the cutting lathe is turned at half the desired playback speed. The technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, allowing more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts.”  Miles Showell offers further insight into his own approach: “I’ve tried to be as authentic as I could, and just make it sound like music. Not over-hyped, not over-processed. Up until now a lot of processing has been done on these recordings, so my approach was to strip them right back and just expose them for what they are – because what they are is great music.”

Released in the summer of 1968 — a year after the summer of love, but still in the thick of the Age of Aquarius  Creedence Clearwater Revival’s self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty’s Americana fascinations. While many of Fogerty’s obsessions and CCR’s signatures are in place  weird blues (“I Put a Spell on You”), Stax R&B (Wilson Pickett’s “Ninety-Nine and a Half”), rockabilly (“Susie Q”), winding instrumental interplay, the swamp sound, and songs for “The Working Man” — the band was still finding their way. Out of all their records (discounting Mardi Gras), this is the one that sounds the most like its era, thanks to the wordless vocal harmonies toward the end of “Susie Q,” the backward guitars on “Gloomy” and the directionless, awkward jamming that concludes “Walking on the Water” Still, the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.

Fogerty’s songwriting is a little tentative. Not for nothing were two of the three singles pulled from the album covers (Dale Hawkins’ “Susie Q,” Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You”) — he wasn’t an accomplished tunesmith yet. Though “The Working Man” isn’t bad, the true exception is that third single, “Porterville” an exceptional song with great hooks, an underlying sense of menace, and the first inkling of the working-class rage that fueled such landmarks as “Fortunate Son.” It’s the song that points the way to the breakthrough of Bayou Country, but the rest of the album shouldn’t be dismissed, because judged simply against the rock & roll of its time, it rises above its peers.

Bayou Country (40th Anniversary Edition)

Opening slowly with the dark, swampy “Born on the Bayou,” Bayou Country reveals an assured Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that has found its voice between their first and second album. It’s not just that “Born on the Bayou” announces that CCR has discovered its sound — it reveals the extent of John Fogerty’s myth-making. With this song, he sketches out his persona; it makes him sound as if he crawled out of the backwoods of Louisiana instead of being a native San Franciscan. He carries this illusion throughout the record, through the ominous meanderings of “Graveyard Train” through the stoked cover of “Good Golly Miss Molly” to “Keep on Chooglin'” which rides out a southern-fried groove for nearly eight minutes. At the heart of Bayou Country, as well as Fogerty’s myth and Creedence’s entire career, is “Proud Mary.” A riverboat tale where the narrator leaves a good job in the city for a life rolling down the river, the song is filled with details that ring so true that it feels autobiographical. The lyric is married to music that is utterly unique yet curiously timeless, blending rockabilly, country, and Stax R&B into something utterly distinctive and addictive. “Proud Mary” is the emotional fulcrum at the center of Fogerty’s seductive imaginary Americana, and while it’s the best song here, his other songs are no slouch, either. “Born on the Bayou” is a magnificent piece of swamp-rock, “Penthouse Pauper” is a first-rate rocker with the angry undertow apparent on “Porterville” and “Bootleg” is a minor masterpiece, thanks to its tough acoustic foundation, sterling guitar work, and clever story. All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.

Despite the personal and professional tensions that plagued the band, CCR’s joyous brand of Americana keeps on chooglin’. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers are still active today, with John Fogerty headlining his own solo shows, and Cook and Clifford performing as Creedence Clearwater Revisited. (Tom Fogerty died in 1990.)

The timeless Creedence Clearwater Revival and Bayou Country are due from Craft Recordings on March 15th.  (Note that Amazon is currently showing a March 29th release date.)

Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy 8382, 1968 – reissued Fantasy/Craft, 2019)