With the exception of the great Southern blues artists from the past, Creedence Clearwater Revival defined swamp rock. The group from El Cerrito, California genuinely mined the feeling and character of authentic Americana music voiced by leader John Fogerty. Most incredible, however, is the fact they recorded six studio albums between 1968 and 1970, which is unheard of now in the economics of today’s music industry. It’s a remarkable feat that is being celebrated with these 40th anniversary reissues of CCR’s first six Fantasy albums.
It’s hard to pin down the definitive CCR album because they are all of equal distinction. The debut album and Pendulum might rank a notch below to the other four, but then again one decent CCR album would be the equivalent to three good albums by another artist.
Creedence Clearwater Revival may not have been hit-heavy although its best known tracks were covers: “I Put a Spell On You” and “Susie Q.” Bayou Country shows signs of CCR coming into their own with the mesmerizing and hypnotic “Born on the Bayou,” and some upbeat rockers like “Keep on Chooglin’” and “Bootleg”; the album is most famous for the group’s biggest hit “Proud Mary.”
Green River really represents CCR at their finest highlighted by “Green River,” “Lodi,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and the country-soul ballad “Wrote a Song For Everyone” (an underrated track). And if you need proof of CCR having soul music in their blood, check out their take on Ray Charles’ “The Night Time Is the Right Time.” Willie and the Poor Boys is another triumph with “Down on the Corner”; the country rock of “Don’t Look Now”; and the classic anthem of the Vietnam War era, the angry “Fortunate Son.”
Cosmo’s Factory is a really rocking album represented with “Ramble Tamble,” “Travelin’ Band,” “Up and Around the Bend,” and the haunting “Run Through the Jungle.” Pendulum (the last record to feature rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty in the band) didn’t have that many memorable songs other than “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Hey Tonight,” but there are still some noteworthy album tracks like “Sailor’s Lament” and “Molina.”
Each of the 40th anniversary reissues also contain some previously unreleased songs, including alternate versions of songs and live performances. Among the highlights include a collaboration with the great Booker T. and the MGs on “Down on the Corner,” and the hilarious “45 Revolutions, Parts 1 and 2.” The greatness of CCR, and especially John Fogerty’s genius, lies in these cornerstone albums.
Check out a vintage performance of “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, courtesy of YouTube: