Title: “Chronicle: 20 Greatest Hits”
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Release date: 1976
Favorite track: “Fortunate Son”
A reader informed me it’s the 50th anniversary of Creedence Clearwater Revival releasing three albums in one year, “Bayou Country,” “Green River” and “Willy and the Poor Boys.” What better time to feature a CCR album!
Now, when I featured the band’s self-titled debut, which released in 1968 (a year earlier than the aforementioned trio), I mentioned I’m not a huge CCR fan. And, I’m not — but only because I haven’t spent enough time with them. I do, however, have a deep understanding of John Fogerty’s songwriting brilliance and the band’s role in music history.
As a record collector, I believe if you’re not already a huge fan of a group with many albums, you should start with a compilation album. Frankly, and in the words of Missy Elliott, it’s less effort putting that thang down, flipping it and reversing it. I don’t think she was referring to vinyl records, but you get what I’m saying.
Trying out one record featuring greatest hits gives you a better chance of finding the stuff you like, instead of listening to only your 10 favorite songs, but from 10 different records.
So, this week I’m featuring CCR’s “Chronicle,” which has 20 greatest hits. Many of these are from the three albums that reach their 50-year mark in 2019.
I normally don’t do this, but because this album has 20 stellar songs, my column will arrive in two parts. Look for the second part next week.
Today, I will go through songs one through 10. Look for 11 through 20 next week.
“Susie Q” is such a cool cover. It was featured on CCR’s debut album.
The song was originally written by rockabilly songwriter Dale Hawkins, who died in 2010. The thick blues track is truly such a classic. I only wish my name was Susie.
The guitar solo at the end really adds a rockin’ layer the song didn’t possess before.
I already mentioned this in my first CCR column, but “I Put a Spell on You” is one of my favorite songs to listen to around Halloween — well, the rest of the year, too. I love many versions of the sultry song, but CCR actually tops the list with the soulful vocals. It’s another cover song, originally written by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins.
CCR lead singer Fogerty wrote “Proud Mary,” a song with which almost everyone is familiar. This track — a little more folk rock than blues — was featured on “Bayou Country.”
Fogerty also crafted another classic, “Bad Moon Rising.” It’s one of those nifty songs in which the lyrics practically seem born for the music. It’s an inspired two minutes.
I wasn’t familiar with “Lodi,” the B-side to “Bad Moon Rising” on the album, “Green River.” It has a nice country twist that complements “Bad Moon Rising.” Lodi is a town in California, by the way.
Title track “Green River” is quite spicy, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a nice shimmer of Fogerty’s songwriting genius. “Commotion” is on the same record, though I don’t think it has the same star power. It’s more chant-y than I prefer.
“Down on the Corner” — arguably the catchiest song — is the first on this compilation from “Willy and the Poor Boys.” It’s not the title track, but it tells the story of Willy and the Poor Boys and how they play music on the streets to make money and make people tap their feet. This song made me tap my foot.
“Fortunate Son” is CCR’s coolest song (in my opinion, obviously, because this is my column). This is rock 'n' roll. It was an anti-war movement anthem, which makes it even more epic.
No. 10, “Travelin’ Band,” came from the later 1970 album “Cosmo’s Factory.” This fast-paced, jig-demanding number is so 1950s rock. Upon first listen, it really reminded me of Jerry Lee Lewis. Then, I read he sang it with Fogerty on the album “Last Man Standing,” so that totally makes sense.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain" is a folk-rock track really speaks to me. There are many cover versions; it was featured in several movies and Bruce Springsteen often sang it at concerts. It’s one of my CCR favorites.
Good men through the ages
Tryin’ to find the sun
And I wonder, still I wonder
Who’ll stop the rain
— “Who’ll Stop the Rain”
“Up Around the Bend” is a song from the soul featured on CCR’s 1970 album “Cosmo’s Factory.” While it’s certainly catchy, I usually prefer when lead vocalist John Fogerty leans into a softer folk rock.
“Run Through the Jungle” — from the same album — is a rhythmic song Fogerty wrote to address the growing number of guns owned in the U.S. The harmonica adds an undeniable layer of cool.
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door” has a classic sound and a simplicity I can appreciate. It definitely reminds me of some of my favorite Johnny Cash songs.
I mentioned before that I don’t always prefer Fogerty’s hardcore soulful vocals and runs — except sometimes I do. “Long as I Can See the Light” has the slowest tempo and the best vocals on the record. The blues song has a special quality about it.
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is ranked on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” and I’d have to agree. CCR’s version of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong’s killer track is as wonderful as the first release from Gladys Knight & the Pips. It’s a bluesy and heavily instrumental jam.
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” another passionate song about rain, is from the 1970 album, “Pendulum.” This, along with many other of their songs, is speculated to address the Vietnam War. I love the chorus because, yes, I have seen the rain comin’ down on a sunny day — literally and figuratively speaking.
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?
— “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”
“Hey Tonight,” which is also from “Pendulum,” has a pop dimension I dig. It has an optimistic flavor somewhat uncharacteristic of the '60s and '70s band. “Sweet Hitch-Hiker,” from the 1972 album “Mardi Gras,” has a similar approach, but is predictably more rowdy and less smooth.
The album appropriately ends with “Someday Never Comes” from “Mardi Gras.” This is the final single released by Creedence Clearwater Revival before it broke up in 1972.
I don’t have much to say about this design. Much 1960s and 1970s rock and interior design highlights the color brown in a way I don’t think I’ll ever fully appreciate. But, I do dig the western-style font.