Even the most in-depth exploration of Creedence Clearwater Revival s Fantasy Records catalog wouldn t necessarily reveal that they hailed from the Bay Area. Their glorious brand of stripped-down roots rock seemed to emanate straight from the murky swamps of Louisiana and smoky juke joints dotting the outskirts of Memphis, with a fierce musical attack that was raw and primal. CCR was one of the most important and commercially popular bands of the late 1960s and early 70s, defined by John Fogerty s whipsaw vocals, slashing lead guitar, and prolific muse. Their seminal albums for Fantasy Records (six platinum, the other gold) are loaded with timeless hits.
Set for reissue on November 11, Creedence Clearwater Revival: Boxed Set contains everything the rockers cut in the studio for Fantasy from 1967 to 1972 their seven studio albums (Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys, Cosmo s Factory, Pendulum, and Mardi Gras) packed with smashes ( Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Down on the Corner, Fortunate Son, Green River, Travelin Band, Up Around the Bend, Lookin Out My Back Door ). There s nearly a disc-and-a-half of live material from concerts at the Oakland Coliseum and across the European continent as well, proving that CCR was as explosive onstage as within the confines of the studio.
Also on board are 25 1961-1967 rarities from the days when John, his brother Tom (on rhythm guitar and some lead vocals), bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford did business as Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets and then the Golliwogs. These hard-rocking garage band gems, collectors items all, comprise the entire first disc of this box.
The big difference between this edition of the CCR box and its acclaimed 2001 predecessor is its sleeker, highly attractive packaging. The artwork highlights the band s strong affinity for Kustom amplifiers in all their Naugahyde-covered glory, paying clever tribute to CCR s gritty garage rock roots in the process. Its amplified cover looks like a Kustom rig; prominently featured elsewhere is a photo of John and Doug sharing an onstage high-five with one of those distinctive amps in the background. It s featured on the inner sleeve of each disc, divided into six sections. When laid out together in the correct order, those six individual sleeves create the full photograph. The joyous image is as powerful as the music itself.
Comprehensive liner notes by well-known rock journalists Ben Fong-Torres, Robert Christgau, Ed Ward, Joel Selvin, Craig Werner, Alec Palao and Dave Marsh expertly detail CCR s career in the deluxe accompanying booklet, which contains a plethora of vintage photos of the iconic band. No box set will ever cover CCR s history more comprehensively than this one or do it more attractively.
Popular but not hip, basic but not shallow, rooted but not retro, Creedence Clearwater Revival distinguished themselves in the late 1960s and early 1970s through these contradictions. This six-disc set is the definitive Creedence collection, offering superbly remastered versions of all of their studio and live albums and adding a disc's worth of pre-Creedence material. The ultimate blue-collar rock band, John Fogerty
and CCR found success by wholly giving in to their fascination with the American South (despite hailing from Northern California) and exploring the turf that connected R&B and country--the same turf that their heroes at Sun studios tilled at rock's birth. As the songs on the first disc prove, they hadn't always taken this approach though perhaps they should have: The first four songs from 1961 (by Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets), original compositions in the classic '50s rock & roll style they loved, hold up better than subsequent Golliwogs tracks that attempt to replicate the British Invasion sound in vogue at the time. Still, the Golliwogs tracks offer hints of John Fogerty's menacing growl and biting guitar that would fully blossom later on.
When diving into CCR's entire body of work, many myths dissipate and a more well-rounded view comes into focus: the quintessential singles band that dominated AM radio was also quite an album band, releasing solid records from top to bottom even though half of the songs were saturating radio long before the LP would hit. Also, they weren't quite as far removed from their Bay Area brethren (who were reared on the same roots music) as is often stated, offering a number of long and loose jams that, while not overtly psychedelic, gave them and their fans a chance to stretch out. Without question, though, CCR were the kings of the three-minute rock single, and it's these now-ubiquitous gems--the consummate AM band now dominates FM radio--that will always define them. --Marc Greilsamer