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Creedence Clearwater Revival
You can take the Ian out of the trailer park, but you can't take the...
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Creedence Clearwater Revival
You can take the boy out of the trailer park,
but you can't take the trailer park out of the boy...

I confess, I came within a hair's breadth of growing up a hick. Spending my early years on a farm on the edge of a small college town in Michigan, I was for a few years magically suspended between the highbrow culture in town, and the cousin-kissin' tendencies of life in the sticks.

It was during this time that I inherited my first (yes, I had a few) 8-Track tape players, along with the stylistically confused selection of music that was likely to be kicking around on 8-Tracks at the time: Bill Cosby, Tom Jones, The Guess Who, Iron Butterfly, Perry Como, the "Hair" soundtrack.....

Amongst this odd collection were a few Creedence Clearwater Revival tapes. At the time, this band was inescapable; they managed to churn out ten top-ten singles in a three-year period from 1968-1970. Bad Moon Rising, Sweet Hitchhiker, Who'll Stop the Rain - the list went on and on. At the time, I had a pretty confused impression of who they were and where they were from. With all the talk about bayous and whatnot, I figured they were southern boys making it big in the city. In spite of the fact that I played them over and over (8-Tracks were good for that), I never really let on to my less rural friends that I liked them as much as I did. I was just under ten at the time, and this era, with its weird technology and weird cultural evolution, were soon behind me. It was the seventies, for cryin' out loud. We had Nixon, oil embargoes, exploding Pintos, the Joy of Sex, and Disco to worry about. Because of my age and bad attitude, I was required to be a "Punk" before there was even a word for it, around the time the Sex Pistols were still just a gleam in Malcolm MacLaren's eye. Not much room for music like Creedence Clearwater Revival.

A little ironic then, that in 2005 new technology (the web, Bittorents, i-music, and a friend's i-pod) would wake me up to the genius of John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival. A friend played "Fortunate Son" for me on an i-pod in their car, and acted as if CCR was some new band (they had snagged the tune from the Forrest Gump soundtrack, of all places). After a few childhood flashbacks and sampling a few more tunes via and bittorrents, I was doomed. I purchased most of their releases on CD, and was left wishing I'd just bought the damn Complete Boxed Set .

After marveling for awhile at the amazing songwriting - a lot of these tunes clock in at around 2 1/2 hook-infested minutes - I had to find out how these southern boys got such slick production out of their studio in the swamp (bet you didn't know "Swamp Pop" was a genre, did you?).

Surprise surprise. They were a San Francisco band, more specifically, from El Cerrito. I don't really care how or why these cats ended up writing and playing the way they did, it is sheer pop genius on the order of any American or British band you can name from the era. Why Creedence Clearwater Revival isn't having more of a Creedence Clearwater Revival Revival is beyond me. This stuff is amazing in its excellent song craftsmanship, clean, straight-up production values and playing, as well as being pretty evocative in its feel, especially in tunes like "Who'll Stop The Rain", "Run Through The Jungle", "Lodi", even the quirky "Lookin' Out My Back Door". They also turned out some pretty smart topical material, like "Fortunate Son".

This stuff is definitely worth a spin. In fact, as soon I finish polishing the gun-rack in my pickup, I'm gonna drive over to the flea market and look for more of their stuff on 8-Track. That is, if I have any cash left after buying new beer mirrors for my "Mobile Home".

Ian Gray
January 2004

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