Tonight the hollow shell of what was once Creedence Clearwater Revival, now called Creedence Clearwater Revisited, performs at the Venue at Horseshoe Casino. Only Stu Cook and Doug Clifford remain from the original lineup.
The acrimony between CCR front man John Fogerty, who wrote nearly all the songs, and the rest of the band is the stuff of legend. After disbanding in 1973 the original lineup reunited only once, in 1980, for rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty’s wedding. Now and then over the next decade John Fogerty worked informally with an old bandmate or two, but by the time CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993–three years after Tom died from AIDS contracted via blood transfusion–his relationship with the surviving members was such that he refused to play at the ceremony with them, instead hiring session cats to back him.
He was also plenty bitter about the band’s label, Fantasy Records, which forced him to relinquish his royalties in order to be set free of his contract. When Concord bought the Fantasy catalog in 2004, though, things began to change. Concord eventually signed Fogerty, who released Revival on the label in 2007, and reinstated his royalties.
That cleared the way for deluxe reissues of the six classic albums CCR made between 1968 and 1970, an astonishing burst of creativity. The label passed on the band’s final album, the mediocre Mardi Gras, which featured other members singing and contributing tunes. They came out in September on Fantasy with bonus tracks and new liner notes.
There was a time in the mid-80s when hardcore bands seemed to be looking to CCR as a sort of blue-collar model. The Minutemen covered lots of CCR songs, and I’ll never forget seeing Hüsker Dü ripping through “Bad Moon Rising” with Vic Bondi of Articles of Faith joining in. I used to have a CCR greatest hits collection on cassette, but I barely needed to listen to it–nearly all the tunes had long since been burned into my memory through ubiquitous airplay.
For whatever reason I never actually bought the original albums, but I’ve sure have had a blast listening to them since they were reissued. Fogerty’s voice makes the idea of a CCR ghost band even more ridiculous; no one could ever fill his shoes as a singer. I remember my father dismissing the band when I was much younger, in the same kind of language that lots of rock critics used when they wrote CCR off in the late 60s–they were primitive, derivative, ass-backwards, whatever. But hindsight makes it plain that they were in fact America’s first real roots-rock band, and all you need to do is listen to the records to realize how great they actually were.
All of this is to say that only a fool would bother paying money to see the barely reconstituted version of CCR playing in Indiana tonight. Put your money toward these essential reissues instead.