Sep 262013
 
Guys, I'll stand up here and you all try to melt into the shadows, ok?

Guys, I’ll stand up here and you all try to melt into the shadows, ok?

Mod’s recent foray into the orange singles box of his youth and the inclusion of CCR’s superb “Commotion,” along with my recent viewing of CCR live at the Royal Albert Hall in April 1970, got me to thinking about Creedence. I never owned any Creedence singles and until my 30s, probably, never owned any Creedence albums other than an old tape I made of Creedence Gold way back. But just from listening to FM radio growing up, I knew a ton of Creedence recordings. Based on my occasional visits to classic rock radio in more recent times, Creedence is still in very heavy, one might say excessive, rotation, though a more limited selection of songs than in the olden days, I think. I suspect that to many younger listeners Creedence is overly familiar, beaten to death, worn out.

But, jeez, what a crazy burst of creativity their records are. Setting aside the pre-CCR Golliwog recordings, they hit the ground running with their first lp in July 1968, and over the next 2 1/2 years out pour five–five!–albums, ranging from very good to absolute killer: Bayou Country (1/69), Green River (8/69), Willy & the Poor Boys (11/69), Cosmo’s Factory (7/70), and Pendulum (12/70). (Clearly, sleep was not a priority in 1969.) Then, the afterthought of Mardi Gras (4/72). They place 14 songs in the Top 40 during that same 1968-1972 period (including the b-side “Commotion”).

John Fogerty’s post-Creedence records have never much interested me. The first record definitely has its moments and I think Mardi Gras does as well though I don’t know when I last listened to it. So, really, I think when we talk about CCR we are looking at the crazy-prolific 2-year span of 1969-1970. For my money, Green River and Cosmo’s Factory are the best of the lot. I never get tired of all 7 minutes plus of “Ramble Tamble.”

But the thing is, I know next to nothing about Creedence.

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Apr 282011
 

Neither shorts nor too-short skirts nor headbands nor questionable harmonies nor pointy guitars can completely ruin John Fogerty‘s infectious “Almost Saturday Night” for me.

You may recall my feelings on the brilliance of this hopeful song, which I once declared as being impossible to screw up. I may need to retract that statement, and not because of this pedestrian version by Candystore. It’s the following version that’s turned my head—and stomach:

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Apr 282011
 

One of my long-unfulfilled rock performance dreams is to have a gig in which my band sets up and “performs” in rehearsal mode: that is, facing each other, playing for each other, having the right to stop songs in midstream, adjust part of an arrangement, and criticize each other. We would completely block out the crowd and just do our thing, the way our thing is meant to be done.

Every once in a while I stumble across a video of an artist rehearsing for a gig or studio recording. I LOVE THIS STUFF! As a music lover, I’m as interested in experiencing what goes on behind closed doors as I am listening to or making music myself, also behind closed doors. Don’t get me wrong, the thrill of playing out or seeing a band out in the wild can be tremendous, but there are less opportunities for catching knowing glances, intimate gestures, and tossed-off asides and fills.

Here’s a mellower look at Creedence Clearwater Revival in rehearsal than I would have expected. John Fogerty has some constructive criticism for drummer Doug Clifford, but he doesn’t throw daggers his way. What is it that Clifford says around the 1:21 mark, before he says, “You make my day a lot better!” All the band members freely crack smiles. Later, though, beginning at the 2:28 mark, John shares some brutally candid insights on the possible roots of Fogerty Syndrome. Pride abounds. Enjoy!

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Jul 312010
 


While researching some performances by the briefly reunited McGuinn, Clark & Hillman I stumbled across this cover of “Almost Saturday Night” by Gene Clark and Carla Olson. As some of you know, I feel The Byrds are one of the most difficult decent ’60s bands for me to like (although I tend to like the Gene Clark-sang jangly hits best). As some of you also know, I don’t readily tune into country music. I do, however, love Creedence Clearwater Revival and indentify with sufferers of Fogerty Syndrome. This laid-back country cover of a solo Fogerty song I discovered through Dave Edmunds‘ balls-to-the-wall cover is very good despite all the hazards, for me, that went into its making. That suggests that the song may be impossible to screw up. I think it’s a combination of the comforting chord progressions, the harmony lines, and the identifiable themes expressed in the lyrics. Have you ever heard a bad cover of “Almost Saturday Night?” Could you imagine one?

Are there other songs you can think of that can’t be screwed up, no matter who covers them and in what style they are covered?

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Dec 062008
 

After Creedence broke up in 1972, John Fogerty made a bluegrass album called Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973. Then in 1975 he released an album simply called John Fogerty.

I’m not sure why this album went nowhere, maybe Fogerty’s time had passed or maybe there was no promotion. Wikipedia says that “Rockin’ All Over the World” was a Top 40 hit, though I certainly don’t remember that. I thought sure that song had a second life being covered by other artists, but my research (ok, the All Music Guide) only shows that Status Quo recorded it.

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But the other great song on the album, “Almost Saturday Night,” was familiar to me before I ever heard Fogerty do it. Dave Edmunds did a fine version on the Twangin’ album.

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The Searchers did it on their terrific 1981 album Love’s Melodies. AMG says The Burritos, Rick Nelson, the Georgia Satellites, and Gene Clark also did it. Actually I thought both of these songs were more widely covered, but the Edmunds and Searchers albums were big in my world back then. Also I think my memory subsequently mixed in Kimberley (Soft Boy) Rew’s “Stomping All Over the World” (from the excellent Bible of Bop album). Probably influenced by the Fogerty song.

Kimberly Rew, “Stomping All Over the World”

The John Fogerty album is a little covers-heavy, but they’re done well. There are a couple of New Orleans classics – “Sea Cruise” and “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead You Rascal You” – but the best cover is of Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops.” That’s one of those songs you’d think should never be covered, or at least that you couldn’t cover it well, but I love this version. Fogerty throws out the cha-cha feel and just goes with a straight shuffle. He even throws out the whole middle part (“just … give … me a … nother chance” etc) and sticks to repeating the verses. But he hits a nice groove and makes it work, which is surprising since I believe Fogerty did his thing of playing all the instruments (no credits on the album).

Oddly the tracks on this record seem more fleshed out than many CCR records. My theory is that Fogerty was such a control freak with his old band that the backing tracks often seem like demos to me. So when John started playing everything himself it paradoxically gave a more liberated feeling to the tracks.

Anyway the eponymous album seems to have become a victim of Fogerty’s label/legal troubles, so it’s currently unavailable, except for here on RTH.

John Fogerty
“Rockin’ All Over the World”
“You Rascal You”
“The Wall”
“Travelin’ High”
“Lonely Teardrops”
“Almost Saturday Night”
“Where the River Flows”
“Sea Cruise”
“Dream Song”
“Flyin’ Away”

Technical note: This is a vinyl rip, and you may find the sound a little thin and brittle, contrary to conventional wisdom. For LPs I used to use the Loudness switch they always had on receivers back in the day, and that works fine. Nowadays when I listen to these mp3s I use the “bass booster” effect on iTunes. Your mileage may vary.

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Aug 202007
 

Fogerty Syndrome, named after Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogerty, refers the musical phenomenon of having a chip on one’s shoulder for reasons known only to one’s self. Also known as Eric’s Burdon.

Ever notice how pissy and pissed off John Fogerty is in his music with Creedence Clearwater Revival and beyond? Fogerty packs a powerful rock package, but warmth and loving vibrations are nowhere to be found. He’s always singing like he’s said what he’s had to say three times already and this fourth time sure as hell is going to be the last time he says it, so listen up! Maybe it’s just the way the good lord made him, but he performs with the flinty eyes of drill sergeant.

A closer examination of his lyrics may make one question what exactly’s gotten under Fogerty’s skin. The guy gives no clues as to his personal life – there are no songs about being deserted by his mother or being torn apart by a lost love. Rather, he works in Chuck Berry territory, but with a major chip on his shoulder…about…something. It’s one thing to approach a biting social commentary song like “Fortunate Son” from this hellbent angle; it’s quite another to push the lyrics of “Willie and the Poor Boys” and “Centerfield” through clenched teeth. Centerfield? No coach in his right mind would put Fogerty in centerfield; he’s not fit for a position requiring such range and fluidity. I’d pen Fogerty up for 8 innings, then stick him in to close games, packing nothing but heat and a badass attitude.

What’s up, Fogerty, do you ever, you know, just chill?

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Apr 042007
 

When the desultory video performance of “Girls Talk” was running on this site last week, some people mentioned that they were unfamiliar with Dave Edmunds’ work and would appreciate a selection of Edmunds tracks. I offered my services, since I have all of the Rockpile-era Edmunds albums in versions transferred from my old LPs and Mr. Mod was busy with moderating.

Right before this era, Edmunds was focusing on letter-perfect recreations of earlier styles — Phil Spector, Sun Sessions, Chuck Berry, etc. – on the album Subtle As A Flying Mallet. But Edmunds had produced the last Brinsley Schwarz album, and he started working with Nick Lowe again on his next album Get It. The first 8 tracks on this selection are from that album.

The opening tack is the Bob Seger nugget

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, and the album is a mix of old and new songs. Nick Lowe fans will recognize

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, but the record also features two fine Lowe-Edmunds originals –

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and the lovely “Little Darlin’”. Edmunds was always more of a traditionalist than Lowe (Graham Parker’s

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gets a nice rockabilly treatment here), but “Little Darlin’” shows the “pure pop” side of the Edmunds-Lowe collaboration.

Also from Get It:

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