We’ll send this one out to Glenn Reynolds, who digs ’em.
For a brief but very intense period from 1969 through 1971, Creedence was the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in America, generating nine Top 10 singles in a row (“Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising/Lodi,” “Green River,” “Down On the Corner/Fortunate Son,” “Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Sweet Hitchhiker”), five multi-platinum albums (Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poorboys, Cosmo’s Factory, Pendulum), and some of the most timeless American music of the past 50 years.
And “timeless” is more than a cliche in this case: although recorded in the late ’60s and early ’70s with a lyrical undercurrent reflecting the social turmoil of the time with the Vietnam War at its core, Creedence’s music has a first generation rock ‘n’ roll feel that derives from the original sound and excitement generated when R&B and country were first rammed together in the ’50s.
All of the eight original Creedence albums – sounding utterly fresh and immediate – have been brilliantly remastered and reissued on CD by Fantasy, with new liner notes from some of our most noted rock writers, and they are a stunning reminder of how essential Creedence was.
While Creedence’s music, lyrics and image speak of the Deep South of the mighty mythic Mississippi, Louisiana swamps, and voodoo magic, singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer John Fogerty, his brother rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty (who died of respiratory failure in 1990), bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford, were actually from the blue collar East Bay town of El Cerrito, CA, and began playing together in junior high school in 1959.
They first recorded as the Blue Velvets, then as the Golliwogs without much success. Sometimes the band had to play live without microphones, which helped Fogerty develop his blistering blues shout (Howlin’ Wolf) and rock ‘n’ roll
scream (Little Richard).
Fogerty started writing songs in earnest while in the Army in the mid ’60s.
When the band reunited in ’67, they were a seasoned, rock-solid unit that was confident enough to avoid trends and aim for the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. Their first hit was a swampy version of Dale Hawkins’s “Susie Q” in ’68, and the extended album version became a staple of the new free-form FM radio format. They were a 10-year overnight success.
Cosmo’s Factory, the band’s fifth album, is their greatest and one of the finest rock ‘n’ roll albums ever. Chock full of hits: “Travelin’ Band,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Long As I Can See the Light”; their astonishing 11-minute version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” the great “Ramble Tamble” and no holes, this is fundamental American art.
Their blazing run was cut short in ’71 when Tom Fogerty, tired of taking a back seat to his younger brother, left the band for a notably unsuccessful solo career. For their final album together in ’72, Mardi Gras, Fogerty agreed to share singing and songwriting duties with Cook and Clifford, a move that painfully revealed why Fogerty had been leading the band in the first place.
Due to legal and other issues, John Fogerty has had a sporadic, but ultimately successful solo career, with the Centerfield album being most notable.