Creedence Cearwater Revival, one of the most original groups of the late 60's and early 70's were in truth the showcase for the Swamp-Rock sound of John Fogerty. The Blue Ridge Rangers album is John's homage to the sounds that he grew up with. It is also an explanation of where his Swamp-Rock sound formed. John uses his rich, warm vocals to interperet the music of Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard and others. Add to that a couple of traditional songs and you have an album to lock yourself away with. It's so good, it must be sinful.
Country music's relationship with pop and rock music has been an uneasy one ever since the dawn of rock'n'roll, itself a mix of R+B and country music. During the sixties, several major pop singers had major hits with pop covers of country songs, Tom Jones and Ray Charles among them. Later, we saw the rise of another hybrid music - country-rock, of which the Eagles were the most successful, though as their music evolved, the country element disappeared. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, another country-rock group, surprised everybody by recording a bluegrass album (Will the circle be unbroken), that is now regarded as a classic and rightly so. Meanwhile, John Fogerty, former leader and songwriter of Creedence Clearwater Revival, chose to record an album of traditional country songs, mainly comprising songs that have been frequently covered by country singers. This is that album.
You will probably recognize some of these songs via the original or other cover versions. Of course, I expect that everybody is familiar with Jambalaya, a Hank Williams song that has been recorded by countless singers in several genres of music. John's version made the top twenty in the American singles charts. In Britain, Jambalaya is generally associated with the Carpenters who had a big UK hit with it. Their recording was never released as a single in the USA, presumably because John Fogerty's hit was too recent.
Apart from Jambalaya, country music fans will recognize She thinks I still care (George Jones), California blues (Jimmie Rodgers), Please help me I'm falling (Hank Locklin), I ain't never (Webb Pierce) and Today I started loving you again (Merle Haggard), each given the John Fogerty treatment. There are also a couple of gospel classics (Working on a building, Have thine own way Lord) and some other traditional songs.
Some people may have been surprised by this album but, given that John sang about listening to Buck Owens in one of Creedence Clearwater Revival's hits (Lookin' out my back door), perhaps it should not have done. This is a fascinating album.
We all wondered just who was in this band with John when the first single "Jambalaya" appeared- but we soon learned that this was an absolutely "solo" effort with John doing the absolute lot. This is how it would remain until the late 1980s when he would finally begin playing and then recording with others again.
At the time of release,all but the die-hard fans seemed to have forgotten about Creedence and John's chosen pure country genre and low-key persona saw to it that things remained that way.The afore- mentioned single and the delightful " Hearts of Stone" were minor hits in a few countries- including the U.S. but the rest of the world barely knew this album existed. A great shame- because its one of the finest things John has done since the break- up of CCR. Now it is available again- try looking for something REALLY RARE: Later in the year, John released a Blue Ridge Rangers single that has never been available on any album, "You Don't Owe me/"Back in the Hills" are his first two self- penned solo recordings.
It would be good to see these included on future re-issues of this album.
The only thing wrong with this album is that it is too short!!! I only bought it because I read about the new album about to come out and read some other comments about the first. It is superb. I have been playing over and over in my car. Back in 1973 I might not have liked it as much as then it was difficult to distinguish between genuine "roots" country and commercial Nashville C&W but now I love it.
I endorse most of the praise in the other comments. But they omit the reason for the uneven quality of the playing on this CD. John plays all the instruments on this, its a masterpiece of overdubbing! Hence the definitely mediocre drums and base, but the pretty good banjo, lead, steel, and rhythm guitar work. The multi-tracked vocals are excellent also. This was only a year after CCR collapsed and John hadn't stopped smoking so the voice is as in CCR. It's a very great shame he didn't stick with this genre for an album or too, but only after drumming lessons. Then we'd have had even more highly individual country rock tracks and would have been spared Quo's dire reworking of Rockin all over the world (from John's next album)! Hearts of Stone and Jambalaya were minor hits in the States (in spite of the drums). I've had this for 30 years and still play it regularly.
Superb but just listen to two tracks before you play the whole album: You're the Reason and Hearts of Stone. Wow just shows you that there was some great rock'n'roll cut in the 70's and they say this album is country? Well ok and so was Elvis when he sang "Baby Let's Play House"!
Now finally available on CD again. Perhaps Fogerty's therapy for all the business crap that took the joy out of Creedence for him. Other people's songs done in an unashamedly country way. Perhaps takes a few listens, but I think we all get the message eventually.