Friday, June 7, 2013

95. Green River (1969) Creedence Clearwater Revival



Tracks

1. Green River
2. Commotion
3. Tombstone Shadow
4. Wrote A Song For Everyone
5. Bad Moon Rising
6. Lodi
7. Cross-Tie Walker
8. Sinster Purpose
9. The Night Time Is The Right Time


This isn't Creedence's only 1969 album. It's not even one of their two 1969 albums. It's amazing to think that Green River is the 2nd of a trio of albums that they released in the final year of the 60's. Today bands can easily go for five years between releasing albums. Putting out two new releases in successive years is considered prolific and releasing two albums in the one year is a rare thing indeed.

But Creedence put out 26 new tracks in 1969 spread over 3 LP's which is no mean achievement made even more impressive by the fact that they're all worth hearing. You could forgive them if the three were padded with filler tracks and lesser compositions but there's not much that's weak on Green River.

The title track starts with the distinctive Creedence sound that always makes me wonder why the hell I don't listen to them more often. Green River isn't the first song that comes to mind when I think of the Fogerty brothers and friends but it's a perfect little two-and-a-half minute rock song which makes you want to hear it again and hear the rest of the album at the same time. It's a great album opener which puts you into a "Want to hear it again but want more" state of indecision. 

Side two opens with Bad Moon Rising which achieves exactly the same thing. It's rock with added swamp and sounds dirty but clean at the same time. I've never understood how Creedence can rely on the same guitar and drum sound that other bands of their day did but still manage to appeal to non-rock fans. There are countless copies of Creedence best of's sitting in CD collections along with Billy Joel and Bette Midler greatest hits. It's a feat that only Creedence and Queen are capable of pulling off. 

Bad Moon is followed by Lodi which is Green River's other great original and it concludes with The Night Time is The Right Time an inspired choice of cover popularized by Ray Charles and later played by The Rolling Stones live. Listening to the original it doesn't sound like a good fit for Creedence but their version is fantastic and a suitable album closer.

The lesser songs on Green River aren't going to rank among anyone's favourites but they're definitely not disposable filler and not even the impending attraction of Bad Moon Rising will have you reaching for the skip button to pass over Commotion or Tombstone Shadow.

I have to confess however that I've got no idea why this is so much higher than Willy and The Poor boys, which they released a few months later. Willy has Down on the Corner which is the equal of anything on Green River and Fortunate Son which is their best song. It's got a cover (Midnight Special) every bit as good as Night Time and the remaining tracks are as good as the rest of Green River. So why is Willy at number 392 while this cracks the top 100? Baffling.

Either way I recommend this along with Willy and Bayou Country which was released before it. Enjoy all three but ponder this for a moment: if the record company had let Creedence release one album in 1969 instead of three then they could have chosen the best of the songs they recorded that year onto two sides of vinyl. How does this look for a track listing...

1. Born on the Bayou
2. Proud Mary
3. Down on the Corner
4. Fortunate Son
5. Green River
6. Bad Moon Rising
7. Lodi
8. Keep on Chooglin

If that album had hit stores somewhere in the middle of 1969 then I wouldn't be writing about it now I'd be singing its praises when it appeared somewhere in the top ten.

Enjoy Green River in whichever way you find it, whether in its original form, as a compilation of your own devising or as selected tracks on the Creedence best-of which is the only acceptable thing to listen to in your friend's middle-of-the-road CD collection. It's great stuff.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I wish I could give it an 8 to offset the three 4 star reviews, none of which give a reason for the downgrade."

- I love the fact that someone has actually done some maths to work out what they'd need to do to bring the average up to the point where they want it. Thankfully Green river only has 44 reviews. Can you imagine what would need to happen if it had 444? He'd probably want to give it a 78 star review.

So is this the best album Creedence released in 1969 or is it only number three? Let me know below



2 comments:

  1. Green River, to me, is like easy-listening music, but in a positive sense of the word. The album in under 30 minutes of length, feels to me like a breezy cruise through a bayoux, and there are not really any weak tracks on this album either (even though there are some standout tracks, like the title track and "Bad Moon Rising").
    However, after I read your review, it seems to me as if there really COULD have been one cohesive album released in 1969, with a powerfully strong track listing as you have mentioned. It was something that I never thought about before, and, now that I think about it even more, I am, in retrospect, quite disappointed with Fantasy Records for not forcing Creedence Clearwater Revival to condense their strongest material from 1969 into one cohesive album, which is something that would have been quite manageable at the time. The rest of the tracks, which are very good indeed, could have also been released as a compilation of outtakes, which would have also been a strong album.
    Pondering it now, it seems to me as if Fantasy Records was trying to milk the success of "Bayou Country", and its hit single "Proud Mary", by spreading out their material onto 3 different albums. After all, "Green River" and "Willy and the Poor Boys" both hit #1 on the Billboard 200. However, although it is only speculation, one would think that if they released one album with that track listing, or at least something similar to it, that there could have been EVEN GREATER success and that it would have propelled CCR to be recognized as a top-tier band. One can only imagine.
    Anyways, thanks for the insight, and I must say, I enjoy reading your reviews and I am glad you are continuing.
    P.S. As an extremely minor quibble: knowing that work on Willy and the Poor Boys was done later on in the year, I would say that the speculative album would have probably dropped near the end of 1969, or even the beginning of 1970, instead of the middle of 1969. Just a minor thing, though.

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    1. Thanks for the comment and it's a good point about the album timing.

      I think record labels didn't think long term back in the sixties and assumed they had to get as much as they could from their artists before the whole rock thing collapsed. It's a shame for those of us listening in 2013 but for those in 1969 it must have made sense to get as much money as quickly as they could while the band was still hot.

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