Creedence Clearwater Revival
n October of 1967 John Fogerty was the leader of an obscure San Francisco band known as the Golliwogs and an in demand studio musician in the Bay area. He was also working at a small local record label named Fantasy as a shipping clerk and became good friends with Saul Zaentz, a sales representative for the company. Zaentz soon bought the label and asked the Golliwogs to stay on, giving them new equipment and a new name -- Creedence Clearwater Revival. He then and asked John to produce an album for his group.
Knowing that they wanted to play clean, straightforward rock and roll, Fogerty and the group picked two rock & roll chestnuts -- "Susie Q," a 1957 rocker by Dale Hawkins, and "I Put a Spell on You," the signature song of one of the wild men of early rock, Screamin' Jay Hawkins. With these two songs they produced good, hard-driving rock and roll filtered through the psychedelia of San Francisco.
In 1969 and 1970 Creedence was the best-selling rock band in America. They followed "Spell" with "Proud Mary" from the Bayou Country album and they were off and running. Six more two-sided singles struck gold in 1969 and 1970. "Bad Moon Rising," "Born on the Bayou," "Green River," and "Run through the Jungle" all had the mysterious ambience of the Bayou swamps that John Fogerty had never seen. However, Creedence wasn't just Cajun music and the good-time hand-clapping sounds of "Down on the Corner" and "Lookin' Out My Back Door." They were also capable of poignant ballads like "Who'll Stop the Rain" and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" Moreover, "Don't Look Now," "Fortunate Son," and "Bootleg" made some serious statements about responsibility, privilege, and lusting after the unattainable.
Occasionally, Fogerty could lapse into awkward phraseology and silly imagery ("Lookin' Out My Back Door" and "Ramble Tamble" are good examples of slightly embarrassing lyrics), and their May 1970 hit "Up Around the Bend" falls into this category, as well. "You can ponder perpetual motion, set your mind on a crystal day/Always time for good conversation, there's an ear for what you say" is hardly engaging poetry, but the sheer confidence of the performance renders everything else irrelevant. Listen to that opening guitar riff! It screams out of the speakers at you, demanding your attention and riveting you to your seat. What is just as amazing is that Fogerty's howl is the aural equivalent of his guitar part. For a man who displayed a considerable amount of restraint and poise during his career as a public figure, there is nothing tempered about this performance. Where was it that Fogerty was in such a hurry to get to? What exactly was "up around the bend"? A roadside juke joint? Paradise? If there's a band there that can play with this much authority and if your attitude is properly adjusted, then the answer is yes to both possibilities. He leans into the song as if he saw God and was in hot pursuit of the afterlife. It was sure nice of him to invite us along.
- Thomas Ryan, American Hit Radio, Prima Entertainment, 1996.
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