January 5 – Creedence Swampwater Revival?

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

CCR released their second album, Bayou Country, on this date fifty years ago. It was the first of three albums released by the band during a frenetic 1969. They’d finally made a name for themselves as CCR after struggling for a few years under the monikers the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs.

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At 23, John Fogerty wrote the songs while staring a blank wall in his apartment – his blank canvass as he described it. He also arranged and produced the album, and as Ray Rezos said in a contemporary Rolling Stone review, “He probably swept out the studio when the recording was finished, too.” This was the source of a great deal of friction within the band as Fogerty assumed control while the others – rhythm guitarist and John’s brother, Tom, bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford – felt their contributions stymied or not credited. (I’m not an invested-enough CCR fan to have an opinion on their intragroup politics either way, other than to say that this was a rather amazingly productive and successful run of albums, so they must’ve been doing something right.)

Proud Mary was the album’s hit, reaching #2 on the singles chart. Born on the Bayou was a culmination of any and all information Fogerty had gleaned from books and movies (Swamp Fever being a big inspiration) – he was a Northern California native who had never actually lived on a bayou. (For more on this great track, see badfinger20’s write-up here.)

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There’s a simplicity to CCR’s music which is alluring in its own right. There’s always a place for it in the sometimes overindulged world of rock music. I’ve always respected bands with an uncomplicated yet distinct sound.  CCR’s music that I like the most, I really like. Born on the Bayou stands among the band’s best tracks on any of their albums, and one of the best overall by anyone in 1969. Penthouse Pauper is relatively short, sweet, and crunchy – like a bowl of Cocoa Puffs I might chow on while listening to it late at night. Proud Mary is an obvious plus, though I think Ike and Tina made it their own (not to mention it’s been classic rock radioed to death). I even like their take on Little Richard’s Good Golly Miss Molly. But some of their music, while not bad, I find a little tedious with the simplicity a detriment. Graveyard Train, the longest song on the album, would be my example here.

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I’ve no doubt that most if not all of these songs would’ve been incredible in a live setting. Keep On Chooglin’, the second longest track on the record and probably my second favorite – at the end of a crazy night at the Fillmore would’ve been fun to experience. And yes, as I write this I’m aware of the irony of my assessments of Graveyard and Chooglin’. One listener’s tedium is another’s toe-tappin’ groovefest. Alas, I’ll just have to settle for assigning it to my imagination.

Tracklist:

Side One:

  1. Born on the Bayou
  2. Bootleg
  3. Graveyard Train

Side Two:

  1. Good Golly, Miss Molly
  2. Penthouse Pauper
  3. Proud Mary
  4. Keep on Chooglin’

-Stephen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayou_Country_(album)

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-album-reviews/bayou-country-86757/