The “Listen Again” series was popular enough that your favorite music man has decided to follow the lead of some Los Angeles TV executives and do a spin-off. In this series we’ll once again examine previously-released albums BUT the discs we’ll discuss in this particular series will be (Rolling Stone magazine) FIVE-STAR albums. In this edition we look at Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Green River.
For folks not familiar with the group, Creedence Clearwater Revival, also known as CCR, was a US rock group that became famous in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They had several successful singles and albums. The band, once known as The Golliwogs, officially became Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1967 when Saul Zaentz, the new owner of Fantasy Records, offered the group a chance to record their first full-length album but only IF they changed their name.
The act got the name by combining three elements: first, Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball, to whose first name “Credence” they simply added an extra ‘e’, so it resembled the spiritual term “creed”, second “clear water” from a television ad for Olympia beer; and third, “revival”, which referred to the quartet’s commitment. Their official lineup now included: John Fogerty (lead vocals/lead guitar/songwriting), brother Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar/backing vocals), Stu Cook (bass) and Doug Clifford (drums). Oddly enough, even though their origins were rooted in the San Francisco Bay area, their music was a blend of blues rock, roots rock, swamp rock and southern rock.
Green River was the group’s third studio album. Before the band laid down the tracks for the platter, the group went to San Francisco to tape a test session at the then-new Wally Heider Studios. It was there that they recorded three songs.
(Two of the tunes, “Broken Spoke Shuffle” and “Glory Be”, are on the 2008 remastered CD). The group would take about three months to record all the music for Green River. The band put out two singles off the upcoming album while still recording the remainder of the tracks.
They first released “Bad Moon Rising” b/w “Lodi”. “Lodi” was a memorable flip-side tune about a musician who basically stumbles into Lodi, California which is a relatively small farming community an hour or so out from Fogerty’s hometown, Berkley. The artist plays some local gigs and comes to hate the town but cannot save up enough money to leave.
Fogerty would later confess he never even went to Lodi before he wrote the tune. He said he chose it only because he thought it had “the coolest sounding name.” There is no question, however, that Fogerty sings of the community’s rep as a humdrum agricultural town although it never gets specific. The city of Lodi, however, has taken it all in stride though and has used the song’s chorus “Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again” as the theme for many of their events. The band would also release the future release’s title track, “Green River” b/w “Commotion” as another preview single.
The album itself, also released in 1969, included 9 tracks. Side One opens with the above-mentioned title track, “Green River”. This is followed by a type of “two-step”, one-chord cut about the dangers of living in the city. The songs “Tombstone Shadow” and the soulful “Wrote a Song for Everyone” are also included here.
The flip side, Side Two, leads in with the classic hit song “Bad Moon Rising”. The bar band tune “Lodi” follows and was destined to quickly become a staple of then relatively new FM radio. The often comparatively ignored cuts, “Cross-Tie Walker” and “Sinister Purpose” are also here.
The album’s closing cut is the only song not written by John Fogerty, “The Night Time Is the Right Time”. It was written by Napoleon “Nappy” Brown, Ozzie Cadena and Lew Herman. The group enjoyed doing covers of their personal favorites. This would be one of the tunes they would perform frequently at live gigs.
“Bad Moon Rising”—the beginning of a flood of hits to follow– would hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one in the UK. The flip side single, “Lodi” would top off at number 52. “Green River” also slotted in at number 2 in the US and number 19 in the UK. The flip side song, “Commotion” would also hit the charts reaching number 30 in the US. The album itself took the top slot on the Billboard 200 chart as well as the Billboard R&B Albums chart in the US, number 20 in the UK and even made number 2 on the RPM Top Albums chart.
Green River would not be forgotten in the new millennium either. In 2003 it would be slotted in at number 95 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2008 the 40th Anniversary Edition CD would be released. It would include the less than 29 minutes of original music as well as additional material. There were five bonus tracks including: “Broken Spoke Shuffle”, “Glory Be” and live versions of “Bad Moon Rising”, “Green River/Suzie Q” and, of course, “Lodi”.
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Green River/Fan.8393 stands as yet another of the band’s essential, award-winning recordings and remains a great rock record in its own right.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.