Creedence Clearwater Revival were in the vanguard of the back-to-the-roots trend of the late 1960s, which spurred a shift in pop music’s center of gravity from the progressive-psychedelic experimentation of the 1966-1968 period to a predominance of rockabilly, country and blues-based styles by 1969. Despite a career of relatively short duration, the band’s recordings possess a timeless quality—with an emphasis on economical, well-crafted songs, a rock-steady rhythm section, and John Fogerty’s incisive guitar riffing and soulful singing—that has helped them remain popular up to the present day.
All four band members—Fogerty, his brother, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, nassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford-—were born between 1941-1945 in the San Francisco Bay area. John formed a trio with Cook and Clifford while all were in junior high school; after playing at local parties and school functions for a time, John enlisted Tom to fill out the lineup. Although both of the Fogerty brothers were multi-talented instrumentalists, capable of playing harmonica, saxophone, and a variety of string, keyboard, and percussion instruments—they developed a country-blues-rock ‘n’ roll amalgam based on performing during the 1959-1967 period and many hours of listening to the recordings of Chess blues masters and the 1950s Sun artists.
Several singles with the Scorpio (1965-1966) and Fantasy (1967) labels as the Golliwogs went nowhere; they are included in the retrospective anthology, Pre-Creedence (Fantasy 9474; 1975). When Fantasy employee Saul Zaentz purchased the company later in the year, however, he encouraged the band to try again, this time as Creedence Clearwater Revival. The funky, roots-oriented debut album, Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy 8362; 1968; #52), released in mid-1968, seemed to run counter to the Baroque excesses of many leading rock artists of the day. The next four albums—Bayou Country (Fantasy 8387; 1969; #7), featuring the breakthrough pop hit, "Proud Mary" (Fantasy 619; 1969; #2), Green River (Fantasy 8393; 1969; #1), Willie and the Poorboys (Fantasy 8397; 1969; #3), and Cosmo’s Factory (Fantasy 8402; 1970; #1)—were released in rapid succession, displaying little deviation from the band’s trademark sound.
Ever mindful of critic’s carping that they were a singles act (with nine Top Ten hits in less than two-and-a-half years), that their sound was simplistic and one-dimensional, the band’s next LP, Pendulum (Fantasy 8410; 1970; #5), featured expanded instrumentation (e.g., John Fogerty’s organ in "Pagan Baby") and song structures (most notably, the chromatic interlude in "Rude Awakening #2"). Flat sales did nothing to dampen disaffection within the group over John’s dominant role in the songwriting, production, and performing areas. Interested in developing his own artistic identity, Tom Fogerty departed for a solo career. The remaining members pursued a tentative three-way split of creative control on the next album. Mardi Gras (Fantasy 9404; 1972; #12) was an aesthetic and commercial disappointment, in part responsible for the band’s breakup. Of even greater significance, Fogerty spent two decades feuding with Zaentz over financial arrangement with the label.
While John Fogerty pursued a moderately successful solo career, Fantasy—who had expanded into the jazz field in a big way thanks large to profits generated by Creedence albums—issued a steady stream of live and recycled material, including Creedence Gold (Fantasy 9418; 1972; #15), More Creedence Gold (Fantasy 9430; 1973; #61), Live in Europe (Fantasy 88; 1973; #143), and Chronicle (Fantasy 2; 1976; #100), andThe Royal Albert Hall Concert (Fantasy 4501; 1980; #62), retitled The Concert when discovered that it took place at the Oakland Coliseum.
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