Chronicle, Vol. 1, by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Suggested by Mel Connolly
Back in ALBUM 127, I reviewed Green River, by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Here’s what I had to say at that review’s conclusion…
This is an accomplished release by an American Rock outfit. I give Creedence a creditable 7/10. Green River is a fine album, but alas, most of the songs are eclipsed by a particularly bright (bad) moon.
The bright moon in question was, of course, their seminal hit Bad Moon Rising. This song also appears on Chronicle Vol. 1, Creedence’s best-selling album to date and standout major compilation release of their work. In fact, there are four songs from Green River on Chronicle: Bad Moon Rising, Lodi, Green River and Commotion. As the Green River album only boasts nine tracks in total, that’s a hit rate that’s just shy of fifty percent. Pretty good.
Let’s get this out of the way quickly: Bad Moon Rising is the best song on this album too. And if you’re a fan of that album, you’ll be a fan of this. There’s very little to be said about the music here that I haven’t said before. A honed country rock sound, a rootsy blues base, John Fogerty’s practiced country drawl and a tonal twang on the country guitar. Check, check, check and check.
You may think that means there are no surprises here. That’s not strictly true. While I said there’s very little to be said, “very little” is much different to “nothing.” Creedence still had a few cards upo their sleeve.
First, the album begins with three straight cover versions. The first is Dale Hawkins’s Susie Q, while the second in I Put A Spell On You, courtesy of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. The third is a cover of Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, before we dive into the Green River contingent listed above. Then we hit the cover versions again, with Jerry Reid’s Down on the Corner and The Who’s Fortunate Son.
I’m surprised that the early half of this album is so cover-heavy… until I discover, of course, that a number of these songs are Creedence originals. Proud Mary? That’s Creedence. Down on the Corner? Creedence. The fantastic Fortunate Son, my standout track? Also Creedence. Also, never covered by The Who… I’ve no idea where that thought came from.
That’s one sign of a great band, I think. Having songs that are so iconic that they almost transcend their authorship. Tina rocked Proud Mary, Jerry slayed Down on the Corner, and The Who rocked Fortunate Son in my head at least. These are songs that have entered the cultural zeitgeist, in my sphere of reference. I’m happy I learned their point of conception… every day is a school day.
There is one more legitimate cover version on the album, the frankly sprawling eleven-minute version on J Heard It Through The Grapevine. It’s likely the one misstep on the album. Actually, I’m also not keen on their I Put a Spell On You, as Screamin’ Jay’s version is peerless.
Over twenty tracks, Creedence firmly plant themselves in the Country Rock Winner’s Circle. Just like Green River, Chronicle gets a fine 7/10, but if you’re new to CCR, this is the perfect place to start.