Creedence Clearwater Revival – The Singles Collection – Fantasy – 2 CDs + DVD

by | Nov 9, 2009 | CD+DVD | 0 comments

Creedence Clearwater Revival – The Singles Collection – Fantasy Fan-31752, CD 1: 49:47/CD 2: 49:55/DVD: 13:13 **** [Distr. by Concord Group]:

(John Fogerty: vocals, guitar; Tom Fogerty: guitar; Stu Cook: bass; Doug Clifford: drums)

Creedence Clearwater Revival does not need any introduction since the band was a mainstay of AM radio from 1968 to 1972, was a popular stage act who barnstormed around the country and even performed at Woodstock, and are now ensconced as a large part of baby boomer classic rock. Look at online music stores or download web sites, check out the credits for many movie soundtracks or listen to what is often heard at malls and supermarkets and you will find CCR.

The past two years have been a bonanza for Fogerty/CCR fans. There are 40th anniversary remastered reissues of eight CCR albums. Creedence Clearwater Revival singer/guitarist/songwriter John Fogerty is continuing his successful solo career with a new country-rock covers project The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again.  Fogerty’s  recent Royal Albert Hall concert was released on DVD, dubbed Comin’ Down the Road. He also headlined a live PBS television special, "Live By Request," which used modern technology to allow Fogerty to take song requests from a worldwide audience during a two-hour show that featured numerous CCR favorites.

The appreciation proceeds with The Singles Collection, which has two discs of radio hits with attendant B-sides for a total of 30 tunes; a short DVD with four promotional videos; a poster of 45 RPM sleeve artwork; and a booklet with liner notes by former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres. Ironically, though this is a singles set, the assemblage is geared toward long-time CCR aficionados and collectors. The reason is simple: these are the original mono recordings issued on 45 RPM singles – not the stereo mixes found on CCR albums – with some rarely heard B-sides. This music is great but these specific mixes won’t sound better booming out of a high fidelity audio system. They probably work best blasting out of car speakers while tearing down the road.

Disc one kicks off with three tracks from CCR’s self-titled 1968 debut. First is the bluesy "Porterville," with John Fogerty’s stinging guitar lines and its British Invasion-ish B side, "Call It Pretending," a chugging sing-along. That’s followed by the two-part rendition of Dale Hawkins’ swamp rocker, "Suzie Q." The 8:30 album version is still the most preferred way to appreciate this long-form jam, but the two-sided rendering retains the riffing groove that proved more absorbing than most drawn-out hippie excursions from the same time frame. Another stellar interpretative translation is given to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ "I Put a Spell on You," highlighted by bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford’s vibrant, loose rhythmic drive and Fogerty’s catchy guitar riffs. The subsequent B-side is the frequently overlooked "Walk on the Water," Fogerty’s first foray at socially conscious writing. One listen to Fogerty’s fuzzy guitar skirmishes makes one wonder why he is usually ignored as a distinguished guitar player.

Bruce Springsteen is quoted as saying Fogerty is a modern day Hank Williams. While that is a slight exaggeration, in the heyday of CCR, Fogerty wrote compelling verses with universal appeal that had a working-class sensibility. That viewpoint is plainly felt on bar-band epitaph "Lodi," about a singer who runs out of luck and ends up gigging at a small town road house. Fogerty’s hallmark, though, was "Fortunate Son," a scathing indictment that revealed the disparity between poor young men who were shipped off to war and rich privileged sons who escaped the draft or got cozy National Guard postings. The alchemy for both lies in the fact they were and continue to be enormously liked whilst maintaining a pointed lyrical acumen.

Disc two mines more treasures such as "Lookin’ Out My Back Door," "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and an edited take of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," which demonstrates CCR’s penchant for reworking classic soul and R’n’B into a primal-toned and seemingly spontaneous inspiration. While the single version pales in comparison to the 11-minute representation on Cosmo’s Factory,  it nevertheless has a relentlessly deep-pocketed groove that showcases a rhythmic verve.

However, serious CCR fans may be more interested in less common and unevenly regarded material such as Stu Cook’s solid rocker "Door to Door" and Doug Clifford’s country-rocker "Tearin’ Up the Country," both on the amiable but dispensable release Mardi Gras, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s final achievement. The two songs are not as horrible as once perceived, but are pedestrian in contrast to John Fogerty’s work. Undeniably the rarest and strangest extra is the disc-ending, two-piece radio station promotional "45 Revolutions Per Minute," also included as a bonus on the 40th anniversary edition of Pendulum. Arranged as a one-joke amalgam of audio verité, DJ patter and interviews the two cuts now stand out as curious oddities from a long-gone era. Being the only stereo mixes, they also bounce around the speakers with a psychedelic giggle that isn’t likely to be listened to more than once.

The 13-minute DVD is arguably the biggest draw for collectors and contains four promotional videos for "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "Bootleg" "I Put a Spell on You" and "Lookin’ Out My Back Door." The video and audio are noticeably rudimentary and have not been digitally restored. Scratches and tears can be seen and the audio levels are not equalized between the videos. Nonetheless, they are historically intriguing and are an admirable addition because they could have been lost to time. One particularly diverting item is the psychedelicized video for "I Put a Spell on You," which obviously was intended to place the group as an element of the San Francisco scene, replete with appropriately dated light show visuals. Viewers also get the opportunity to see what John Fogerty looked like with a mustache.

Ben Fong-Torres’ informative liner notes put Creedence Clearwater Revival into the context of the late sixties and early seventies radio environment. He remarks on how the foursome transcended being typecast as just a pop band or a rock group and garnered strong links to progressive, free-form FM radio as well as rigidly-programmed AM radio stations. There is also a 14"x14" color poster of scarce CCR 45 RPM record sleeve covers.

Those who want other collectible material should note Fantasy has a companion 45 RPM vinyl box set that has the same 15 CCR singles with reproductions of the original Fantasy label designs and housed in picture sleeves.

TrackList:

CD 1

1. Porterville
2. Call It Pretending
3. Suzie Q. (Pt. 1)
4. Suzie Q. (Pt. 2)
5. I Put a Spell on You
6. Walk on the Water
7. Proud Mary
8. Born on the Bayou
9. Bad Moon Rising
10. Lodi
11. Green River
12. Commotion
13. Fortunate Son
14. Down on the Corner
15. Travelin’ Band
16. Who’ll Stop the Rain

CD 2

1. Run Through the Jungle
2. Up Around the Bend
3. Long As I Can See the Light
4. Lookin’ Out My Back Door
5. Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
6. Hey Tonight
7. Sweet Hitch-Hiker
8. Door to Door
9. Someday Never Comes
10. Tearin’ Up the Country
11. I Heard It Through the Grapevine [single edit]
12. Good Golly, Miss Molly
13. Revolutions Per Minute (Part I)
14. Revolutions Per Minute (Part II)

DVD (Dolby D/Digital PCM; standard 4:3 format)

1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine
2. Bootleg
3. I Put a Spell on You
4. Lookin’ Out My Back Door

— Doug Simpson

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