2014-04-14

Great Record: Chronicle


Overview
The broad appeal of Creedence Clearwater Revival's music is best described by my good buddy Nick, who brashly and comically asserts that: this is America, and if you don't like John Fogerty, you're free to get out. He says this with tongue in cheek, but CCR's body of work set the standard for American roots rock, and their best-of compilation Chronicle is pretty much bulletproof.

CCR wasn't around for a very long time - they were only active as recording artists from 1968-1972 and almost all of their best-loved tunes are from the prodigious three years 1968-70. CCR burned hot and bright, as the quality of the songwriting and easy feel of the playing here is remarkable - Fogerty's swampy yelp and clean leads, brother Tom's churning rhythm chords, and the raggedly punctual rhythm section of Doug Clifford and Stu Cook. Just a terrific band with the tunes to back it up: folsky jams like "Down on the Corner," the countrified ramble of "Proud Mary," and even "Lookin' Out My Back Door," one of my favorite tracks about dropping acid. These guys hardly ever cut a bad track, and this is a good (if overlong and slightly suboptimal) summary of their career.


3 best songs: Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son, Have You Ever Seen the Rain

Mis-heard lyric: "There's a bathroom on the right" ("there's a bad moon on the rise") from "Bad Moon Rising" is an all-time classic Mondegreen (look it up), perhaps rivaled only by Hendrix's "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy."

Fantasy: Fogerty and company signed this horrible contract with Fantasy records and ended up in a weird legal situation where John C. didn't play any CCR tunes - songs he wrote! - for a long, long while. Legend has it he got back in the game when Bob Dylan told him, "if you don't start playing your songs again, people are going to think Tina Turner wrote 'Proud Mary'".

Wait, didn't Tina Turner write "Proud Mary": Nope, and the CCR original is better.

What is the proper length of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"?: Six minutes. Not 11:06.

Doug and Stu: It's lame that the group's bassist and drummer later toured as "Creedence Clearwater Revisited," but that's a damn fine rhythm section.

How did Fogerty describe his own music? "Swampy"

Mixtape: I originally only rated this compilation as "Very Good" (4.5 stars, A) on the basis of I made a mixtape as a youth with mostly CCR but also some Fogerty cuts, a mix that outshines Chronicle. It really was a remarkable piece of work. But come on, Andy, this body of work is 5 stars, let's not be foolish.

Francis band: We play "Bad Moon Rising" in H9RD - it's the one track on which I sing lead vocals! The Big Man harmonizes on the chorus, and yes, we sing the Mondegreen full-on.

Creedence outside of their hits: I got nothing. What's wrong with me? I should grab Cosmo's Factory from the library right away.

Blue Moon Swamp: Fogerty put out this solo disc in 1997, eleven years after the poorly-received Eye of the Tiger, and damned if it wasn't terrific. It's always interesting to me when an apparently washed-up artist returns with something genuinely good, like Smashing Pumpkins' Oceania or Travolta in Pulp Fiction.

Why It's Great: Because CCR has the best singles of any American rock band, that's why.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Creedence was The Great American Rock'n'Roll Band. Word. I saw Fogerty on some late night TV show some years back, and he did in fact sing "There's a bathroom on the right" -- the grin on his face was priceless. As far as non-hits and "Cosmo's Factory" go, "Ramble Tamble" is God-head. GO, TRIBE! Also, Yankees suck ...

-- Mister X