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You can't turn on a classic rock station anywhere in the U.S. without eventually hearing a little Creedence Clearwater Revival. They were massively successful in the late '60s/early '70s and are still incredibly popular amongst those who listen to classic rock. I used to call them the godfathers of grunge, and to this day I still play their version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" whenever I go to a Waffle House as it gives you the most bang for your change.
I wore out their greatest hits package back in college and it still stands as one of the all-time "best of" type albums out there. The thing is, that's the only album I ever knew. Their hits were the only songs I had ever heard the band play. That is until the Concord Music Group recently reissued all of their albums, but the last one. Those reissues have been something of a small revelation to me.
CCR, it turns out was much more than their greatest hits. I'm finding myself enjoying several non-singles more than many of their big hits. The boys sure knew how to rock that's for sure and Fogerty is a top-notch songwriter.
He was also a bit headstrong and pushed his band-mates a little too hard, resulting in a much discussed break-up. Then there were the arguments (and lawsuits) with his former label-owner Saul Zaentz causing much aggravation over the Fogerty-written, yet Zaentz-owned CCR music. For years Fogerty refused to play any of his old CCR songs, relying on his solo material to fill his concerts. It was, in fact, but a few months before this particular concert that Fogerty first busted out his old CCR songs at a concert with Bob Dylan and George Harrison.
This concert is the second time he played any of his CCR songs in 15 years. He’s actually a little bit sneaky with it at the start of the show playing the first few notes of his solo hit "Old Man Down the Road" before turning it into a rousing version of "Born on the Bayou." From there he plays nothing but old Creedence songs.
There is a moment in this show, filled with a large amount of Vietnam Veterans on this Independence Day, where John tells the crowd that he has "gone through about twenty years of pain" but has finally decided to face it, and as he says, "drop it." It seems he has finally settled his difference with his old bandmates and Zaentz and has decided to move on and embrace his legacy.
It is the heavier songs that carry the most punch. Songs like the aforementioned "Bayou," "Bad Moon Rising" and "Up Around the Bend" rock it like a full-forced gale and never let up. However on the softer songs that incorporate a lead line on piano or acoustic guitar there is a bit of let down in the quality. The playing is still good on these songs, but the sound just doesn't quite cut it. Likely this comes from playing in a large arena where the sound needs to reach a big audience and thus manages to lose the subtlety needed in songs such as "Down on the Corner" and "Who'll Stop the Rain." One last note on the sound: for some unfortunate reason on "Fortunate Son" John's voice has some kind of delay on it so that it sounds as if it is overlapping on itself. Maybe this was a neat trick in the day, but now it sounds simply lousy.
The songs are all played well and with gusto. The band is in fine form. It is full of energy (at one point John exclaims "this feels so good!") but pretty by-the-numbers in terms of arrangements and structure. There is very little extemporaneous jamming, and the songs stick pretty close to the way they sound on the albums. This is forgivable as they hadn't been played in over a decade, but also amounts to a less than a memorable bootleg.