Sun Spin: Creedence Clearwater Revival

A CRY FROM THE STREETS AS THE SIXTIES TURNED TO THE SEVENTIES

Throughout the remainder of 2009, Sunday Spin will regularly celebrate and explore some of the seminal albums released in 1969 as they reach their 40th anniversaries. We couldn't think of a better slab to start with…

Some folks are born wise, and John Fogerty is surely one of them. Two years on from the Summer of Love, Fogerty could see which way the wind was blowing, his young ears able to "hear the voice of rage and ruin." The Vietnam War shuddered a half a world away, entering U.S. living rooms every night on the news, while corporate culture had already absorbed the trappings of the '60s youth revolution, diluting a legitimate social movement into a series of largely empty, marketable symbols (""Is that a real poncho? I mean is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?"). Fogerty picked up on this sharp dip in general hope, addressing the nostalgia already settling into America's mindset – not just for some fictitious bygone time but for what had transpired only recently - a dynamic that persists in even more pronounced form today. The first words of Creedence Clearwater Revival's third album, Green River are, "Well, take me back down where cool water flows/ Let me remember things I love." From there he swiftly introduces us to the hangman's rope and announces, "You're gonna find the world is smould'rin'."

CCR's second album in a year that would ultimately see them release three classics is a sharp shock to the system. For all of its '50s inspired bounce, the waters in their river are cloudy and tangled with weeds and bodies. Like the bluesmen and folk heroes that fueled Fogerty's pen, his songs here invite mindless sing-alongs, seeming jubilant yet ever-touched by something far darker. The quintessential example in the Creedence catalog is "Bad Moon Rising, " which has been reduced to a backdrop for film and television, just another piece of the general cultural landscape, but is nothing less than a scathing gospel warning, barking, "Hope you got your things together/ Hope you are quite prepared to die/ Looks like we're in for nasty weather/ One eye is taken for an eye." Creedence isn't screwing around on this album, and as baldly enjoyable as the music is (and it is a freakin' ball that'll have you smacking the roof of your hoopdie like El Duderino) this is largely serious business, as heavy and truthful as Robert Johnson, Leadbelly or Bob Dylan.

It does not hurt that the band is ablaze on every cut. The myth goes that this is John's show and the rest are merely players, but no matter the brilliance of the playwright you're going to have an empty house if there's no one there to execute the script. Stu Cook (bass), Doug Clifford (drums) and John's brother Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar) are jook joint mean and Hamburg underground tight, a party band extraordinaire with steam rising from their pores. John Fogerty's lead guitar and ruthless lead vocals are indeed the sharp point of their phalanx but the muscle behind it comes from Tom, Stu and Doug. The sad evidence of this is how none of them ever again achieved a fraction of the mojo harnessed during CCR's five-year existence. Green River presents the combo at their most cohesive, where each aspect feeds the others to create one of the most appealing, robust sounds in the history of rock. The conversation between instruments generates a density and immediacy that defies age – a model for anyone seeking a "timeless" quality to their music.

And oh what tunes! The proto-punk of "Commotion," the bent knee cry for connectivity in "Wrote A Song For Everyone," the gleeful foreboding of "Tombstone Shadow," the ennui and impotence of "Lodi," the urge for going inside "Cross-Tie Walker" and the shiver-inducing prognostication of "Bad Moon Rising" and "Sinister Purpose" - each number a lustily attacked marvel that culminates in a "Fuck it, let's party" vibe with a cover of jump blues standard "The Night Time Is The Right Time." Throwing jagged stones at "pharaohs" and the self-deluded, this song cycle is simultaneously delightful and harrowing. In sequencing, execution and insight, Green River is a tough one to beat in any era, even one as rich as the late 1960s.

Track Listing

Side One
1. Green River
2. Commotion
3. Tombstone Shadow
4. Wrote a Song for Everyone

Side Two
1. Bad Moon Rising
2. Lodi
3. Cross-Tie Walker
4. Sinister Purpose
5. The Night Time Is the Right Time

Do yourself a favor and check out Letters to Fogerty by the wonderful John Moe. You can thank us later when you stop laughing.

This nasty lil' tune nicely captures the hurly-burly of modern life in under three minutes.


Death songs have a long, grand tradition and this is up there with the best of them.


During their 1999 tour this was a Pavement staple, just one example of this album's far reaching influence.


Here's John Fogerty getting "stuck" all by his lonesome.


A clearly stoned Mama Cass introduces "Clarence Clamwater." JamBase would like to dedicate this one to our pal Nathan Moore (he knows why...). Play it loud and long as we all try to find our way back to the river.


And lastly, the title tune.

[Published on: 4/19/09]

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Comments

kandrokitis Sun 4/19/2009 05:26PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

kandrokitis

Oh, uh, yeah, uh... a tape deck, some Creedence tapes, and there was a, uh... uh, my briefcase.

PhatBoyRy starstarstarstarstar Sun 4/19/2009 05:34PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

PhatBoyRy

Great article for a great band. They are known for having great singles, even though there are lots, but this whole album is awesome. Fogerty is an incredible rock singer and I love it that he would not allow light shows at their concerts in order for people to focus on the music. Just all around good stuff

alienscape starstarstarstar Sun 4/19/2009 05:47PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

DUDE

You find them much? Stolen cars?

YOUNGER COP

Sometimes. I wouldn't hold out much

hope for the tape deck though. Or

the Creedence tapes.

jam_loss starstarstarstar Sun 4/19/2009 07:17PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

great article. I'll have to listen to Green River (the whole album), see how it stacks up against one of the FIRST albums I ever bought, Cosmo's Factory - which still holds up after all this time, give it a listen you'll see...I heard it through the grapevine..

RaoulDuke1 Sun 4/19/2009 08:13PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

RaoulDuke1

what was in the briefcase?

papers.......uh....just some........buisiness papers.....documents

what do you do mr. lebowski?

im unemployed

ecarsman starstarstarstarstar Sun 4/19/2009 09:22PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Leads?....Leads?!.... Yeah they got 3 more detectives working on the case, hehe, they got us working in shifts......leads...

rster22 Sun 4/19/2009 09:35PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I LOVE MAMA CASS

21mmer starstarstarstarstar Sun 4/19/2009 09:44PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

21mmer

ccr is a great band with a wealth of overlooked material....of course, we've all heard 'fortunate son', and 'bad moon rising' enough times to be sick of them. dig deeper.....'green river', 'cosmo's factory', and 'willie and the poor boys' (my personal fave) are albums that all have amazing material on them. give a listen to 'effigy', 'cotton fields'....a leadbelly tune, or 'don't look now'....hell, just go out and get 'willie', give it a listen, and get back to me.

chux7487 Sun 4/19/2009 10:11PM
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chux7487

tied the god damn room together.

Hankskool Mon 4/20/2009 01:06AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Hankskool

Man, what great clips. Thanks a lot Jambase! I love John Fogerty, CCR , or not. I remember a couple of years ago after having gone to Vegoose and seeing Phil Lesh's and Trey's band kick some butt in the Orleans hockey arena with John Molo drumming calling my dad on Thanksgiving. He lives in Detroit and ever since I was a kid has always gone to the Detroit Lions thanksgiving day game. I'm out in Cali and realize that I had to wait until half time to call him on his cell to wish him a happy one, since to do so would be sacriledge. So I ring him up at half time. He somewhere up top getting himself a refreshment when I ring him and start telling him about this great music festival I seen at Halloween and what a great drummer John Molo is (I'm a drummer who made him suffer listening to those damned things since I was little) . Anyways, I'm watching the toob as I'm talking to him, and sure enough, not only is Fogerty the half time act, who start ripping into a short CCR set of classics, but there he is, bald headed John Molo, tearing up the drums in his band. I had to tell my old mand to get his back to his seat and he could sit there and watch the great drummer I was talking about. Long live John Fogerty. Hiya Hiyah John Molo.

jerZ Mon 4/20/2009 04:18AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

When I listen to John Fogerty I feel like someone is sitting inside my speaker yelling at me and it makes me sad

cUB_nAsTY starstarstarstarstar Mon 4/20/2009 06:17AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

cUB_nAsTY

...they left the creedence.

anyone mind if i do a j?

FreshFlavor Mon 4/20/2009 06:49AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

FreshFlavor

Credence is and always will be where its at. Thats rock at its finest for sure.

RobStarr starstarstarstarstar Mon 4/20/2009 08:09AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

RobStarr

Did any of you kids see the John Fogerty ,when then Grateful Dead (with Jerry and Bret ) was his band ,The played most of this Record .If I remember It right ,It was the AID's Benefit of "88" In Ca. Great show.You got to check it out ,there is 20 minute jam on "Suzie Q".Great ,great show

lovemusical Mon 4/20/2009 08:51AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

These guys bring back alot of fond memories. I grew up listening to them. All of their old albums are classics. Chronicle Vol. I & II do an excellent job representing these albums to casual listeners. Dude, Dude, Dude, Lookin' Out My Backdoor!

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Wed 4/22/2009 07:50AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Smittea

One of the great bands of early rock and roll plagued by in fighting in later years the likes of which none of us would like to have seen. ........... "Don't go out tonight, or it's bound to take your life. There's a bathroom on the right."