Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Creedence Question

The Creedence Clearwater Revival catalogue has been reissued and I've just finished listening to it - easily done since the albums are about a half-hour each. Even if you take into account that some John Fogerty riffs were pretty similar, it's still an impressive feat: six albums in under three years, and all are at least good. Yeah, you skip through Pendulum, but there's a song or two I'd skip on all of them except maybe Green River.

The question that the liner notes for the album hints at is why Creedence wasn't bigger. Why isn't the band beloved? So many good songs, so many hits, such a distinctive sound, but somehow, that hasn't translated into a stronger legacy. If you know the band's story, maybe you chalk it up to a band that was hard to love as personalities, but for me, it's Fogerty's inability to sound dark. For all of the apocalytic imagery of "Bad Moon Rising," the music is still a hoedown and sounds just as emotionally burdened as he does on "Travelin' Band," "Fortunate Son" and "Hey Tonight."

Maybe it was a physical limitation or perhaps it was a conceptual one in that he wanted to be successful too badly to cast songs in darker, less commercial lights. Whatever the reason, CCR almost always sounds perky, and they sound perkier with time.

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