Creedence Clearwater Revival is arguably the definitive American rock band. Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area and borrowing heavily from the musical traditions of the Deep South, the gritty and powerful foursome served up a potent stew that appealed to a broad audience not just in the States but around the world. Their creative arc was relatively brief yet highly influential, and some four decades after their heyday, their straight-ahead raw energy continues to echo in the rock and pop sounds of the modern day.
Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival: Greatest Hits & All-Time Classics is a three-CD set that captures the band’s prolific stretch of songwriting and recording from the late ’60s through the early ’70s. Included among the 52 tracks are the well known radio-friendly hits, numerous classic album cuts, and a string of live recordings from performances in venues all over the U.S., U.K. and Europe. Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival is set for a November 6, 2012, release on Fantasy — CCR’s original label, and now a division of Concord Music Group.
“If any one act could legitimately stake a claim to be America’s Beatles, then that would Creedence Clearwater Revival,” says music historian Alec Palao, whose extensive liner notes provide deep historical context for the Ultimate collection. “John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford, two brothers and two friends, constituted one of the great quartets of American rock and roll…Their litany of hits transcends time and place to form an ever-present, constant soundtrack to life in these here United States. As for the rest of the world, well…from the Caucasian enclaves of Scandinavia and Australasia, to the hot-blooded southern hemispherical Americas, CCR are as beloved as they are in their homeland.”
The huge, iconic hits — the ones that have become a part of the collective musical consciousness of the past four decades and beyond — are all here, spread across the first two discs: “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Travelin’ Band,” “Down on the Corner,” and many more. But the collection also digs deeper and shines a light on timeless album material to provide a refreshing, alternate perspective on a relatively short career.
“For the baby-booming long-time fan, Ultimate Creedence comes as an old friend, albeit with some extra gems to add to the rosy glow of familiarity,” says Palao. “For the neophyte, to whom the flannel-shirted roots-rocker stereotype of the group is no longer pertinent, the conciseness of ideas and irresistibility of the energy so readily apparent in Creedence will be instructional in understanding just why they continue to be relevant.”
The live material gathered on the third disc — including dates in Oakland, San Francisco, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin and elsewhere throughout 1970 and ’71 — speaks reams about CCR’s global appeal, a result of what Palao calls “their blend of authenticity and accessibility.”
“It is said that at any given moment in the United States, there is a band in a bar launching into a Creedence classic: a maxim quite applicable throughout the civilized world,” says Palao. “To have not one or two, but a passel of modern standards, songs that speak to the everyman, is an achievement that few in rock have accomplished. But the power of the group’s music speaks loudest on the original recordings included on Ultimate Creedence.”