Friday, October 17, 2008

Artist Profile: Creedence Clearwater Revival / The Golliwogs

Creedence Clearwater Revival never had a number one single even though they were known as primarily a "singles band." But they did crack the Top Twenty eleven times in four years, even hitting number two repeatedly. Their sound was unique. While it embodied the feeling of the sixties-era protesting students, Creedence turned against the sound commonly heard around their home in the Bay Area. Consider the groups that dominated the scene: Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Chocolate Watchband, Moby Grape, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Grateful Dead, Blue Cheer, Sly & the Family Stone and Santana. And even with these legendary, influential, trend setting bands, Creedence stood out. Rock and roll with a southern flavor and psychedelic without the use of drugs. Progressive in their political views, but holding to the traditions of older music against the tide. And people bought it. A lot. Still, the early years of the band present a glimpse into what would make the band great a few years later. And despite not being known much outside of their slice of California (except one single included on the Nuggets compilation) early Creedence, then known as, first, Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets and later as the Golliwogs, made very good, catchy music. And that is what I'll concentrate on.

Here I present a part of the liner notes included in the Creedence Clearwater Revival box set (which includes everything they have ever officially released).

Ultimately, what makes the pre-Creedence story so fascinating is the end result. The band never lost sight of their roots, and it was natural they would revisit the path they had so resolutely and painstakingly beaten. If the canceled 1967 single "Tell Me" is a virtual blueprint of classic CCR rhythm, then the sound's genesis goes all the way back to 1965's rocking "You Got Nothin' on Me," as energetic and exciting a performance as "Travelin' Band" or "Sweet Hitch-Hiker."

This wasn't always quite so obvious. As you may recall, Creedence threw a promotional party at their Berkeley headquarters in December of 1970, in the hope that, after four platinum long-players and countless gold singles, the invited audience of critics would finally begin to take them seriously. If the AM-friendly rootsiness of Creedence's classic run of 45s wasn't convincing enough to the hipper-than-thou late 1960s rock literati, then their formative yeas as the Blue Velvets and Golliwogs must have seemed--at the time--total anathema. It didn't help that the band, still smarting from the years of struggle, disparaged most of their pre-fame catalog. And so, the party line became that the early recordings were forgettable, that the risible image the Golliwogs sported extended to their recorded efforts, and that it was all week, derivative fluff.

There is, however, a different perspective. If nothing else, the fortitude of a band that took ten years to make it deserves some objectivity. And what an unbiased look at and listen to the first decade of Creedence leaves you with is the feeling that the legacy of the Blue Velvets and Golliwogs has been done a tremendous disservice over the years. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in Creedence's pre-fame pedigree.

One can forgive them the naiveté of the Orchestra releases or the likably blatant Anglicisms of the first couple of Fantasy singles, for there is little there that is any different than what thousands of similarly-situated teenage outfits were doing. But the triumvirate of “Brown-Eyed Girl,” “Fight Fire” and “Walking on the Water” would be jewels in the crown of any mid-1960s rock band, whether they were destined for fame or not. The band’s 1965/66 sessions now sound better than ever, soaked with the same wide-eyed punk enthusiasm as the best grass-roots rock of the period.

Inasmuch as this story of a band’s growth and search for a style, the music that John, Tom, Stu and Doug made throughout their teething period is infused with the genuine unsophisticated spirit of lowest-common-denominator, truly democratic, red-blooded rock and roll. The same spirit that made Creedence Clearwater Revival the most honest American band of their time.

Read the rest of the article.

Have You Ever Been Lonely by Tom Fogerty and the Blue Velvets

Fight Fire by The Golliwogs

Walking on the Water by The Golliwogs

Call It Pretending by Creedence Clearwater Revival

  1. Come on Baby by Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets
  2. Oh My Love by Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets
  3. Have You Ever Been Lonely by Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets
  4. Bonita by Tommy Fogerty & The Blue Velvets
  5. Don't Tell Me No Lies by The Golliwogs
  6. Little Girl (Does Your Momma Know) by The Golliwogs
  7. Where You Been by The Golliwogs
  8. You Came Walking by The Golliwogs
  9. You Can't Be True [First Version] by The Golliwogs
  10. You Got Nothin' on Me by The Golliwogs
  11. I Only Met You Just an Hour Ago by The Golliwogs
  12. Brown-Eyed Girl by The Golliwogs
  13. You Better Be Careful by The Golliwogs
  14. Fight Fire by The Golliwogs
  15. Fragile Child by The Golliwogs
  16. She Was Mine by The Golliwogs
  17. Gonna Hang Around by The Golliwogs
  18. Try Try Try by The Golliwogs
  19. Instrumental, No. 1 by The Golliwogs
  20. Little Tina by The Golliwogs
  21. Walking on the Water by The Golliwogs
  22. You Better Get It Before It Gets You by The Golliwogs
  23. Tell Me by The Golliwogs
  24. You Can't Be True [Second Version) by The Golliwogs
  25. Action USA [Promotional Spot]

  1. Call It Pretending by Creedence Clearwater Revival

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