Creedence Clearwater Revival
[40th Anniversary Edition]
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2008, Volume 15, #11
Written by John Metzger
Wed November 5, 2008, 06:30 AM CST
There is no doubt that Bayou Country, the sophomore set from San Franciscoís Creedence Clearwater Revival, was an uneven affair. At the same time, though, it also was a marked improvement over the groupís self-titled debut. It all began with a guitar riff, too ó a sinewy, ominous, winding pattern of notes that immediately conjured black, swampy waters filled with alligators and cypress trees. Born on the Bayou, the outingís leading track, essentially was an extension of the jam-tastic, Southern soul and blues assault that Creedence Clearwater Revival had applied to Suzie Q, with one notable exception: Where the latter tune had been penned by Louisiana songwriter Dale Hawkins, Born on the Bayou was written by Creedence Clearwater Revivalís front man John Fogerty. This made all of the difference in the world.
Three other cuts from Bayou Country also immediately earned their status as certifiable classics: Proud Mary layered the first of many infectious melodies that sprang from Fogertyís pen on top of a chugging rhythm, and the result effectively captured the aura of a paddlewheel steamboat sailing on the mighty Mississippi. It also singlehandedly cemented Creedence Clearwater Revivalís standing as a major commercial force. Elsewhere, Bootleg subtly intertwined Allen Toussaintís Working in a Coal Mine with the acoustic undercurrents of the Everly Brothers, while simultaneously adding a healthy dose of biting blues flavor for good measure. Similarly, with its buzzing harmonica and stinging guitar accompaniments, the explosive intensity of Keep on Choogliní brought the outing to a rousing conclusion.
Bayou Country lost its direction, however, with the three songs that Creedence Clearwater Revival had tucked into the center of the endeavor. The lumbering groove of Graveyard Train, for example, never managed to rise above its hybridized influences of the Grateful Dead and The Doors. Penthouse Pauper was a solid soul and blues workout, but it, too, felt slight in comparison with Bayou Countryís better moments. Although the bandís rendition of Good Golly Miss Molly was an uproariously good time, it paled in comparison to Little Richardís well-known version.
The 40th anniversary edition of Bayou Country has been augmented with four additional cuts. The weakest of these is an alternate rendition of Bootleg that meanders aimlessly. Both Born on the Bayou and Proud Mary were recorded on Creedence Clearwater Revivalís tour of Europe in September 1971, but the band sounded a little tired of performing both tunes. Crazy Otto is an extended, hard-edged blues jam that was culled from a hometown show held two-and-a-half years earlier. Although it provides an interesting side note, it neither alters nor reinforces the perspective that Creedence Clearwater Revival presented with the endeavor. The band had grown up, but it wasnít quite ready to stand on its own. Nevertheless, the boost in confidence that it received after Proud Mary became a smash success was enough to push Creedence Clearwater Revival onto a much higher plane of existence, which it fully embraced on its subsequent album Green River. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Bayou Country is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box