Opening slowly with the dark, swampy "Born on the Bayou," Bayou Country reveals an assured Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that has found its voice between their first and second album. It's not just that "Born on the Bayou" announces that CCR has discovered its sound – it reveals the extent of John Fogerty's myth-making. With this song, he sketches out his persona; it makes him sound as if he crawled out of the backwoods of Louisiana instead of being a native San Franciscan…
Like everything on Memphis Slim's album Goin' Back to Tennessee or Alvin Youngblood Hart's "Tallacatcha" (a Western swing performance worthy of Bob Wills), Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's 1975 Barclay album Down South in the Bayou Country completely transcends any and all attempts to confine this diverse artist within the artificial parameters of blues or any other preordained category. Consisting mostly of songs written by Hoyt Garrick, Jr., Charles Gressett, and David Craig with additional tunes by J. Loyd and Joe Stampley, this pretty parfait of country & western, Southern rock, cowboy hoedown, and electric Cajun soul music was recorded during February and March 1974 in Bogalusa, LA. Gatemouth, fresh from his tenure as Deputy Sheriff of San Juan County, NM, sounds particularly pleased to be active at the center of a project so completely infused with authentic Southern sensibilities. Perhaps the most satisfying track off of the original album is "Loup Garou." This hoodoo funk ritual with background vocals by Geraldine "Sister Gerry" Richard sounds as if it might have been influenced by Dr. John's "Loop Garoo," which had appeared on that artist's Atco album Remedies in 1970.
Creedence Clearwater Revival (sometimes shortened to Creedence or CCR) was an American rock band that gained popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a number of successful singles drawn from various albums. The Band's music is still a staple of American and worldwide radio airplay and often figures in various media. The band has sold 26 million albums in the United States alone. Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. They were ranked at 82 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Popular but not hip, basic but not shallow, rooted but not retro, Creedence Clearwater Revival distinguished themselves in the late 1960s and early 1970s through these contradictions. This six-disc set is the definitive Creedence collection, offering superbly remastered versions of all of their studio and live albums and adding a disc's worth of pre-Creedence material. The ultimate blue-collar rock band, John Fogerty and CCR found success by wholly giving in to their fascination with the American South (despite hailing from Northern California) and exploring the turf that connected R&B and country–the same turf that their heroes at Sun studios tilled at rock's birth. As the songs on the first disc prove, they hadn't always taken this approach though perhaps they should have: The first four songs from 1961 (by Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets), original compositions in the classic '50s rock & roll style they loved, hold up better than subsequent Golliwogs tracks that attempt to replicate the British Invasion sound in vogue at the time. Still, the Golliwogs tracks offer hints of John Fogerty's menacing growl and biting guitar that would fully blossom later on.
When diving into CCR's entire body of work, many myths dissipate and a more well-rounded view comes into focus: the quintessential singles band that dominated AM radio was also quite an album band, releasing solid records from top to bottom even though half of the songs were saturating radio long before the LP would hit. Also, they weren't quite as far removed from their Bay Area brethren (who were reared on the same roots music) as is often stated, offering a number of long and loose jams that, while not overtly psychedelic, gave them and their fans a chance to stretch out. Without question, though, CCR were the kings of the three-minute rock single, and it's these now-ubiquitous gems–the consummate AM band now dominates FM radio–that will always define them. –Marc Greilsamer
It was stripped down, it rocked and rolled, and amazingly, in an era when pop music grew more complex and seemingly more sophisticated with each passing month, the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival was also enormously popular. The underdogs of rock during the late '60s and early '70s, CCR had a series of consecutive hit singles and albums that may have been out of step with the era's AM radio blandness and pretentious prog-rock but nonetheless spoke directly to fans across the board. With guitarist, vocalist, composer, producer, and resident genius John Fogerty at the helm, the band combined the lean funk of R&B with the grit of the blues and the sweet soul of country, tying it all up with a tough-as-nails rock 'n' roll sound that had a direct lineage from Sun Studio rockabilly and Specialty Records-era Little Richard rave-ups. Creedence cut tunes that got to the point fast and then wrapped them up before they wore out their welcome. In the process they made classic music: "Born on the Bayou," "Proud Mary," "Green River" "Going up Around the Bend," "Fortunate Son," and plenty of others will live as long as rock 'n' roll does. And it all can be found on this comprehensive six-CD box set collecting the band's seven official studio albums (and one live recording) as well as a disc full of fascinating pre-Creedence material that will be an immediate draw to collectors and others already pulled into the CCR universe. But even casual listeners will appreciate the remastered sound, a remarkable sonic improvement over the previously available CDs that puts the band's righteous rockin' right in your face. The roots of the quartet's no-nonsense sound can be heard in the early, previously unreleased material: Within the Motown and British Invasion grooves pulse the economic, ultra-tight rhythm section and Northern California garage rock ethic that would define the band's mature style. The formula that Fogerty later conceived, and that CCR thankfully stuck with through its glory years – 1968 through 1970, covering the albums Creedence Clearwater Revival through Cosmo's Factory (the two final, problematic albums Pendulum and Mardi Gras, can also be examined for revisionist opinions) – still holds it own three decades after the band's dissolution. Creedence's influence may be even more strongly felt today: Try to imagine Americana rock without their grassroots kick as an example. A case can even be made that Creedence may be the most elemental of all American bands. The evidence is right here on this must-have set. The accompanying 72-page booklet features essays from noted music crits Ben Fong-Torres, Dave Marsh, Robert Christgau, and others. Each box is individually numbered, adding to the collectors' value. –Steve Futterman