The “Listen Again” series was popular enough that your favorite music man has decided to follow the lead of some TV execs 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 take a look at an album suggested by Darlene, a friend of mine: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle.
For those of you who aren’t up on the band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, sometimes known as CCR, was an American rock group that became big in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They had several successful singles and albums. The band, once known as The Golliwogs, officially became CCR in 1967 when Saul Zaentz, the new owner of Fantasy Records, offered the group a chance to record their first full-length album IF they changed their name.
The group 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), 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.
Many of their songs focused on the bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River and other well-known portions of Southern iconography. Despite their overall success, in October 1972, less than six months after a two-month tour to promote the less than commercially-successful seventh album Mardi Gras, Fantasy Records and the group itself made an official announcement the band was disbanding. Creedence Clearwater Revival would not be forgotten, however, and a few years later (1976), Fantasy Records released the highly successful Chronicle, Vol. 1, a collection of Creedence’s twenty hit singles.
Now also known as Chronicle, Vol. 1or Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits, is a compilation album produced by John Fogerty. Clocking in at just under 68 minutes, it was released in January 1976 in conjunction with the release of the single “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. This was the only recording to include all of the band’s charted hits.
Specifically, it contains 13 A-sidesand 7 B-sides most of which were written and composed by John Fogerty. All songs were originally released between 1968 and 1971 from the opening track, “Susie Q” through such 1969 hits such as the much-covered “Proud Mary”, “Bad Moon Rising” and “Fortunate Son” which took a stab at the privileged that only teens from the wrong side of the ultra-hip San Fran area could have felt so sharply. (The boys in the band came from roughly the same area as many of the psychedelic bands but from poorer families.)
Also of note are “Lodi”, the tale of a working rocker’s depression at being stuck in another out-of-the-way gin mill and his determination to beat everyone as well as the title track from their other five-star release, Green River. Early 1970s hits such as “Who’ll Stop the Rain”, “Up Around the Bend”, the controversial “Run Through the Jungle”, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”. The cover cut “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was abbreviated on both vinyl and cassette formats of the album.
In truth, the extended version of the track actually worked. Fogerty yearned to prove that he was as much of an artist as anyone in the Grateful Dead. He and the rest of the band played their unique blend of music because they were trying to stretch and to make nominally progressive music. Indeed, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was considered by critics to be more intense than any Grateful Dead music ever on record at the time even if the single was truly Fogerty’s métier.
Chronicle eventually became the band’s best-selling album going platinum over 8 times. Considered to be a fine anthology, it was given five stars by Rolling Stone magazine. It would peak at number 67 on the Billboard 200 chart. It would be re-issued on CD in 1980 where it would chart at number two in New Zealand. This CD would include the full 11:06 version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, critic for Allmusic, would give the release a five-star rating despite the fact that he took issue with the full-length version. Erlewine felt that while the original record “was suitably compiled . . . “the full-length version . . . does not fit with the other songs on the album.”
In 1993 the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival refused to fade away, the disc would be released yet again as Chronicle, Vol. 1. In 2007, the album crossed over into the new millennium where it would make the charts once more. It would hit number 40 in Norway and number 59 in Sweden. Blender magazine would also give it a five-star rating and call it “the best compilation album by Creedence Clearwater Revival.”
To this day the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival remains a staple of American and international radio airplay. It is also frequently used in television and movie soundtracks as well. The group has sold 26 million albums in the U.S. alone. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle/Fan. CCR-2 is not only fun to listen to but it’s an essential part of any comprehensive collection.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.