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 box 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 that will always define them. --Marc Greilsamer