With Concord Music Group having purchased the Fantasy catalog, the fortieth anniversary of Creedence Clearwater Revival's debut LP provides a suitable opportunity for a fresh round of reissues. All six of the original foursome's albums (from 1968's Creedence Clearwater Revival through 1970's Pendulum) have been struck from new digital masters and augmented by previously unreleased tracks. Those who purchased the 2001 box set can pick up most of the bonus tracks separately as digital downloads (the two longest bonuses are CD-only). Those who didn't buy the box, and think they'll buy all six reissues may want to consider the box set for its inclusion of pre-Creedence work from the Blue Velvets and Golliwogs, the seventh CCR album Mardi Gras, the 1970-71 live recordings and several box-only bonuses. But for those just wanting to pick up a few favorite albums, these reissues are the ticket. Each is presented in a digipack with original front and back cover album art and a 16-page booklet with photos, credits and new liner notes.
Creedence's sixth studio album in 2-1/2 years, Pendulum, marked their finale as a four-piece; two months after its December 1970 release, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty would quit the group for good. Unlike the summary of their musical inventions heard on 1969's Cosmo's Factory, their latest LP found John Fogerty pushing the group in new directions, including more blatant nodes to New Orleans funk, Stax soul, and experimental studio productions. The album's press - both at the time and with this reissue - suggested the new focus was partly motivated by the dismissive attitudes of the band's peers. With a string of top-5 singles and a lack of trendy sounds on their albums, Creedence wasn't always given their due as innovators. Fogerty may have felt stung, but instead of capitulating with nods to current trends, he sought to lead the band in new directions. Fogerty may well have felt restless after stringing together Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poorboys, and Cosmo's Factory in just 18 months. Fogerty wrote all of the album's songs for the first time, employed sax solos and a vocal backing chorus and, most conspicuously, added generous helpings of Hammond B-3.
Given all those changes, the album opens with a characteristic heavy rock jam that would have fit the group's debut. The organ lining the album's single, "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," portends the larger changes to be found within the album, and those innovations first kick in with the organ, saxophone and chorus backing of "Sailor's Lament." Fogerty's keyboard provides a spooky introduction to "(Wish I Could) Hideaway," offering melodramatics that harken back to the group's earlier cover of "I Put a Spell on You." Fogerty's fascination with Stax turns blatant on the funky "Chameleon," and the structure and riff of "Born to Move" provide a solid nod to Rufus Thomas' "Walking the Dog."
As a producer Fogerty gives his rhythm section its due on "It's Just a Thought," moving the bass and drums forward and rewarding listeners with some of Stu Cook and Doug Clifford's terrifically melodic playing. The album closes with the Little Richard styled rocker, "Molina," and the six-minute prog-rock experiment "Rude Awakening, No. 2." The latter provides a "heavy" bookend to the album's opener, but aside from the acoustic guitar intro, it's rather tortuous. Closing track pretentions aside, this is a solid album whose new directions may not measure up to the group's peak, but might have proved fruitful had the group not dissolved with 1972's Mardi Gras. Bonus tracks on the 2008 CD reissue include the promotional single "45 Revolutions Per Minute (Part 1 and 2)," which finds the band experimenting in the studio with a "Revolution #9" like montage of production tricks, backwards tape, sound effects, musical bridges, comedy bits, and San Francisco DJ Tom Campbell. Wrapping up the disc is a live take of "Hey Tonight" recorded by the three-piece Creedence in Hamburg on their last tour of Europe. [©2008 hyperbolium dot com]