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Reissues remind again how good Fogerty, CCR were

Box Set – Original Recordings Remastered
Box Set – Original Recordings Remastered
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000

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Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1968)

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Bayou Country
Bayou Country
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1969)

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Green River
Green River
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1969)

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Will and the Poor Boys
Willy and the Poor Boys
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1969)

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Cosmo's Factory
Cosmo's Factory
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1970)

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Pendulum
Pendulum
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1970)

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Mardis Gras
Mardi Gras
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1972)

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The Concert
The Concert
By Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fantasy Records: 2000 (original release 1981)

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This review first appeared in the July 23, 2000 edition of the American Reporter.

Creedence Clearwater Revival was nothing like the rest of the San Francisco music scene in the late '60s, early '70s. While seemingly everyone else playing at the Fillmore was going off into very weird psychedelia or endless white-boy blues jams, the four members of CCR were immersing themselves in the earthiest American roots music sounds on the scene.

In the four years CCR was together (the band members had played together for years under a couple of different names and with a completely different sound), John Fogerty and mates turned out some of the most memorable songs of that era, songs that have entered the American canon of popular music.

In commemoration of the band's 30th anniversary (sort of), Fantasy Records has reissued all eight of CCR's original recordings (seven studio, plus a 1970s concert issued as a live album in 1981) in newly analog remastered editions. The entire set is also available as a 6-CD box set.

Which seems kind of silly, the remastering part, given that CCR's raw music was always rough around the edges anyway – this is a band that almost sounds better on a beat-up old phonograph than a new CD player anyway.

What is nice, though, is that Fantasy commissioned new liner notes for each of the eight albums, by seven different rock and pop critics. Most of them were around when CCR was still an ongoing concern and heard these albums when they were new, as well as having heard the band live in concert. Joel Selvin and Ben Fong-Torres and Stanley Booth all bring interesting perspectives to the music of CCR and where the band stands in the history of rock music. (Dave Marsh, predictably enough, is as insufferably pompous and ultimately irrelevant as ever.)

Sadly, one of the things these writers bring out is that Fogerty had a tremendous inferiority complex when it came to the Beatles – felt his band didn't get the same respect from the media as the British lads.

Which is true, frankly – the question is whether the media's take on things was the accurate one.

Still, listening to these eight albums, one is reminded anew how much truly immortal music Fogerty (the band's principal composer) wrote: "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising" and "Green River" and "Down on the Corner" and "Fortunate Son" and "Travelin' Band" and "Run Through the Jungle" and "Who'll Stop the Rain" and "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" and "Keep on Chooglin'." And that all came out in a four-year period before the band fell apart; while Fogerty has written some excellent songs in the years since, of his solo efforts perhaps only 1985's "Centerfield" and "Old Man Down the Road" equal the songs he wrote while in CCR.

It was a remarkable stretch in both Fogerty's life and American popular music. For those of us whose vinyl copies of these albums are long worn smooth, or whose 45 player no longer works, having them newly available on CD is welcome.