Bayou Country

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy, 1969

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The follow-up to CCR's debut finds them settling into their traditional swamp-rock sound, abandoning the psychedelia and blues of Creedence Clearwater Revival for a more organic Southern feel. Not bad from a couple of guys from San Francisco in 1969.

Bayou Country was the band's first of three records in 1969, beginning a ridiculously prolific two years in which CCR recorded five great albums. It's a piece of work that features singer/songwriter/guitarist John Fogerty's burgeoning fascination with the Deep South, cemented not only by his musical chops but by the loose, ragged rhythm section and the utter seriousness with which the band takes their quest.

It was rare in 1969 to find an artist who was returning to old styles of music instead of forging new trails, but CCR was that rare band that did both. The update of "Good Golly Miss Molly" proves this, adding some muscle to the old classic as well as pretty cool guitar solo. In addition, it's the only cover here, but it comes at just the right spot in the disc, breaking up the epics.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The other six songs indeed play as epics, slices of dark Cajun funk that paint an individual picture of people, at once truly American and yet glossed with a quiet menace. "Born On The Bayou" is the prime example, Fogerty's heavy guitar and scratchy vocals sounding authentic and setting the tone of the album perfectly. The rhythm section often carries the songs as much as the Fogerty guitars, and the result is compelling

"Bootleg" is a little less intimidating, a jaunty acoustic ditty set to a murky rhythm section carried by the mini-guitar fills between each line. It's a lead-in to "Graveyard Train," an eight-minute blues workout that rides the same ominous chord the entire time while Fogerty warbles over top, sounding like a swampy death march. That the band can make it interesting for so long is a testament to their hypnotic power, even though eight minutes is a bit much.

"Penthouse Pauper" is a charged-up blues rocker with an offhand charm, the sort of music Led Zeppelin made before 1970, and "Proud Mary" features the same sort of lazy, careless rocking. But the best is saved for last: the eight-minute "Keep On Chooglin'" is as good as "Born On The Bayou," the point where the band's Southern leanings and Fogerty's persona gel as one and sound so natural that you'll forget this is a California band and tap your foot to the country-fried beat, harmonica solos and scratchy, smoke-n-booze-filled vocals. Surely this band birthed Southern rock just as much as Skynyrd or the Allmans.

CCR was more of a jam band than people remember and this record reveals that, which renders it eminently listenable and a highlight in the band's catalog but not their best outing as songwriters. But few sophomore releases are this good, and CCR was and is so totally original that the 34 minutes of music just fly by. It's a worthwhile way to spend time.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A-



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