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Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy CCR2
Released: February 1976
Chart Peak: #100
Weeks Charted: 14
Certified Platinum: 2/27/86

John FogertyCreedence Clearwater Revival was probably the greatest American singles band, one of the hardest-working American groups of any genre, and almost the only exponent of working-class sensibility in American rock & roll -- particularly California rock & roll -- after the advent of Haight-Ashbury and before the rise of punk.

Led by guitarist/vocalist/writer John Fogerty, the group simply pumped out classic rock singles, one after another, in much the same rockabilly spirit as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, adding some touches of New Orleans R&B and other relatively antediluvian sources. On its first album (Creedence Clearwater Revival), the band attempted to stretch out, as was then the fashion, but though the approach garnered a hit with "Suzie Q," an extended version of the Dale Hawkins classic, Creedence didn't really hit stride until Fogerty tightened up some three-minute songs. Then began the flood: "Bad Moon Rising," "Born on the Bayou," "Commotion," Down on the Corner," "Green River," "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (an extended song that worked), "Proud Mary," "Travelin' Band" and "Who'll Stop the Rain." All of this occurred between 1968 and 1973, when the group fell apart.

Perhaps best of all were "Lodi," the story of a working rocker's depression at being stuck in another out-of-the-way gin mill and his determination to beat everyone, and "Fortunate Son," a stab at the privileged that only kids from the wrong side of the ultra-hip San Francisco area could have felt so sharply. (Creedence arose from roughly the same town as the psychedelic bands, but came from much poorer families.) And after a time, Fogerty burned to prove that he was as much an artist as anyone in the Grateful Dead -- he apparently did not know that he was already more -- and the group tried to stretch out, to make nominally "progressive" music. Not all of this was unsuccessful, by any means -- "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is more intense than any six minutes of Grateful Dead music on record -- but still, his metier was the single. Eventually, the group tried to achieve a communal balance, the other members of the quartet contributing songs to the final studio record, Mardi Gras, a noble but disappointing affair. Since then, it's all been repackages, except for the lamentable Live in Europe.

Chronicle is a fine singles anthology, but Green River and Willy and the Poor Boys are great rock records in their own right.

- Dave Marsh, The Rolling Stone Record Guide.

Bonus Reviews!

Al Green is the only other artist of the post-Pepper era to make great albums while scoring consistently on the singles charts, and like Green, Creedence is worth owning in a more public and archival configuration. Fifteen of these twenty songs went Top 10, and this is where anyone who snorts at the notion that Creedence was the greatest American band should start. Then go back and catch up with the more "obscure" stuff. A

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

A truly comprehensive overview of this wonderful band's most popular work, as well as a showcase for one of the truest and most distinctive voices in the annals of rock & roll, that of John Fogerty. The CD's sound does vary some ("Lodi" is unfortunately affected with noticeable hiss), but overall a morked improvement over the LP. A+

- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.

An essential disc for any serious lover of rock & roll, it contains almost all of the Creedence hits, plus a generous helping of album tracks. * * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Certainly the best Bay Area group with a raised-in-the-swamps-of-Louisiana sound, CCR features the awesome vocals of John Fogerty, who seemed to have an endless supply of three-minute songs that captured the ears and imagination of everyone who had a radio. This excellent collection of hits represents pure Americana, up there with baseball and apple pie. So go for it, relive the memories. * * * * *

- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.

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