Fantasy Records, 1969
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/25/1997
Of all the bands who have earned immortality in the legends of rock and roll, there are some who are better singles bands than album bands. While they have songs that have rightfully earned popularity, their albums are not as solid as the singles.
Consider Creedence Clearwater Revival -- John Fogerty and crew took the laid-back California sound and created some of the best songs of the Sixties. But their album Green River questions whether they could maintain that kind of energy for an entire album. The answer: no.
Sure, this one has one of the band's biggest hits, "Bad Moon Rising," as well as a few smaller hits in "Lodi" and the title track. It's amazing that even after 30 years, these songs sound as fresh as they did when the band -- Fogerty, his brother Tom, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford -- first laid down these tracks.
But when you strip away the singles, there isn't much that sets CCR apart from other mediocre bands. "Tombstone Shadow" stretches out way too long, as does the light country-folk number "Wrote A Song For Everyone". "Sinister Purpose" and "Cross-Tie Walker" are just plain weak.
In fact, of the songs on Green River that have not found their way onto the airwaves, only "The Night Time Is The Right Time" has any promise to it -- if I remember correctly, the song made its way onto the best-of set Chronicle. The rest of it is watered-out twelve-bar blues and light folk that fails to go anywhere.
What went wrong? The problem may not be with the album itself -- it's that after almost three decades of being known for some singles, there is a level of quality expected from CCR. So when a song doesn't measure up to that level, it's more disappointing than it would have been with other bands.
If you're looking for the hits that you know and love, you may choose to pass on Green River -- but if you really want to hear what a typical CCR album sounds like, don't say you weren't warned.