In just a few years Creedence Clearwater Revival had cemented their place in music history as one of America's greatest bands. To commemorate their monumental 50 year anniversary Craft Recordings are releasing a deluxe box set featuring all seven of their studio albums. Better still, they have been remastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios. This high res transfer allows more time to cut the groove on the vinyl giving more dynamic contrast, making the band's work sound brighter and better than before.
Their lyrics reflected social concerns of the everyman blue-collar American workers and tracks like Proud Mary and Cotton Fields were an ode to their southern inspired sound. Making music during the Vietnam era also had an impact on their work with political songs like Who'll Stop the Rain and much of the album Willy and the Poor Boys following an anti-war theme. At the peak of their success on Cosmos Factory's Travellin' Band heightens John Fogarty's influence of Elvis and The Beatles that spurred him to write ephemeral songs.
Right back at the start on their debut album Fogarty's snarling vocal on the Screamin' Jay Hawkins track I Put A Spell On You heralds the arrival of one of the most distinctive vocalists of all time and one of the most important bands that helped to forge the rock genre. As the frontman and songwriter, John Fogarty was synonymous with CCR; and this is in part responsible for their eventual break up in 1972. Before their ultimate evolution as CCR in 1968, the band had been a mainly instrumental group known as The Golliwogs, and in this incarnation, Tom and John had equal billing on the writing; but by the time they were, CCR John was very much centre stage. The tensions between the band continued to brew from touring and John's overall control with his brother Tom leaving the band after Pendulum. It was perhaps unsurprising that their final album Mardi Gras was their nadir. Fogerty finally stepped aside and allowed other band members to write and perform vocals. On its release Mardi Gras was slammed by critics and even had Rolling Stone claiming that in the future it would be known as 'Fogerty's Revenge'. That could be seen as perhaps a little harsh, until in 1976 Fogerty himself cut ties with the album, dismissing it from CCR's oeuvre. The resulting album is overly laden with country cliches and substandard vocals, and it's little surprise that it's still Fogerty's work that stands out as the sharpest on the album.
Fifty years on from those smokey vocals on Susie Q and CCR are still defined by their trailblazing sound and honest songs. Bruce Springsteen nailed it when he inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame saying of their music: 'they were hit filled with beauty and poetry and a sense of darkness of events, of history. An American tradition shot through with pride, fear and paranoia.' It's for those reasons that their music has attained such longevity and is part of the Great American Songbook.
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