Creedence Clearwater Revival’s new LP suffers from one major fault — inconsistency. The good cuts are very good; but the bad ones just don’t make it.
The group’s sound is very reminiscent of that of the early Stones — hard rock, based in blues. John Fogerty carries the group with his good lead guitar, in addition to his good vocal and harp work. He also wrote all of Creedence’s original songs, and arranged and produced the album. He probably swept out the studio when the recording was finished, too.
Despite John’s dominance, the group has a solid overall sound. Stu Cook on bass, brother Tom Fogerty on rhythm guitar, and Doug Clifford on drums are all good musicians; they lay down a heavy backing for Fogerty, and the result is a very tight sound.
The main failing of the bad cuts is a lack of originality. “Graveyard Train” is a repeat of “Gloomy” on the first album. “Gloomy” wasn’t worth much in the first place, and “Train,” dragged out to eight minutes and thirty-two seconds, is simply boring. “Penthouse Pauper” is similar to “The Working Man,” also on the first LP. The music and lyrics are good, but they’ve been heard before.
“Good Golly Miss Molly” is not nearly as exciting as Little Richard’s original, though the group gets a good workout on this one. “Bootleg” is a good, short number which explains how something often becomes more attractive when it is illegal. Again, the lyrics are good. But even here, Fogerty uses the same riff as on “Keep On Chooglin.” A few more fresh ideas would be helpful.
The good cuts do come off well. “Born On The Bayou” is a very bluesy thing which inspired the LP title. This contains some of John’s best vocal work. “Proud Mary” is a good, easy-rolling song concerning a Mississippi river-boat. The Fogerty’s guitars help to create a gentle, flowing mood. I take it that “Proud Mary” is the name of the boat.
“Keep On Chooglin'” is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “rave-up,” a good, long, toe-tappin’ type song. As is usually the case with such numbers, it sounds better in person than on record. Nonetheless, CCR has managed to capture some of the excitement of a live performance on this album. Exactly what chooglin’ is, or how you do it, is not explained. However, Creedence Clearwater Revival would like us all to keep on doing it (apparently we’ve been doing it all along without knowing it) and it seems like a good idea in these troubled times.
Overall, the material in Bayou Country is not always strong, but Creedence Clearwater Revival plays with enough gusto to overcome this problem. With the stronger material, they are excellent. It seems to me though, that CCR has just about exhausted its supply of blues-rock numbers. They have produced two fine albums; so far, so good. But I think (and hope) that we will see new directions on their forthcoming albums.