Monday, April 02, 2007

album of the day

Chronicle by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Another forgotten band - after The Rolling Stones and The Beatles these guys were probably the biggest band in the world for a year or two between 1969 and 1970. They had five US #2 singles without ever having a #1, which is apparently a record, while in the UK Bad Moon Rising was a #1 hit in September 1969, and later featured memorably in the man-to-werewolf transformation scene in the film An American Werewolf In London in the early 1980's. Not only that, but it was a John Fogerty song that opened Live Aid in 1985. Don't remember that? Well, Rockin' All Over The World by Status Quo is a cover of a Fogerty original from his debut solo album in 1975. Didn't know that? Well, there you go.

Fogerty is CCR, to all intents and purposes, no disrespect to the other three members of the group - principal songwriter, lead singer and lead guitarist. The Creedence sound couldn't be more simple, in stark contrast to the countless trippy psychedelic combos around in the late 1960's Creedence were devout primitivists - two guitars, bass and drums will do nicely thank you, as well as a bunch of songs influenced by country, blues and old-time rock'n'roll (Travelin' Band is a blatant Little Richard rip-off). Only a bit of electric piano and saxophone on the spine-tingling Long As I Can See The Light and a swell of Hammond organ on Have You Ever Seen The Rain? deviate from the standard formula; the rest is an awesomely tightly focused collection of 2 to 3 minute swamp-rock nuggets like Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Green River, Fortunate Son (probably their finest moment) and Run Through The Jungle. Even when they unleash an 11-minute cover version of Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine they somehow manage to pull it off - it ought to be horrible, but it's actually irresistibly funky, and Fogerty's gravelly howl is one of the great rock voices. It's only the later stuff like Hey, Tonight and Sweet Hitch-Hiker that marks a downturn in quality (and preceded the break-up of the band) - nothing much wrong with the songs, but they're much more generic rock and the voodoo magic of the earlier stuff has gone. That break-up preceded a series of mishaps for Fogerty whereby he lost millions thanks to Fantasy Records' accounting cock-ups and was then (somewhat bizarrely) accused of self-plagiarism and embroiled in lawsuits for some years, only returning with the triumphant Centerfield in 1985.

Apparently Bad Moon Rising is the source of a mondegreen - the last line of the chorus "there's a bad moon on the rise" is often misheard as "there's a bathroom on the right". And the crazy thing is, in my flat there is a bathroom on the right. As long as you're coming from the bedroom.

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