On the liner notes to their album, Ralph Gleason states: “Creedence Clearwater Revival is an excellent example of the Third Generation of San Francisco bands.” Really more like Third Level — behind the Airplane, Dead, Quicksilver, Grape and all the others. The only bright spot in the group is John Fogerty, who plays lead guitar and does the vocals. He’s a better-than-average singer (really believable in Wilson Pickett’s “Ninety-Nine and a Half”), and an interesting guitarist. But there’s nothing else here. The drummer is monotonous, the bass lines are all repetitious and the rhythm guitar is barely audible.
Fogerty can’t carry the load by himself, and when he does get going, as in two or three spots on “Suzie Q.,” their “big” number (over eight minutes long), he has no complementation from the other members of the group. He’s no Albert King, but he plays a fine guitar at times. His singing on “Ninety-Nine and a Half” is beautiful. But even on that track, whenever it’s suspended between riffs, the unimaginative drumming kills it. The whole record is unimaginative, poorly produced and a great waste of John Fogerty’s talents.
“I Put A Spell On You” bears only a cursory resemblance to Alan Price’s version, but maybe it’s unfair to compare them with someone so polished and well-established. Even Eric Burdon casts a heavier “Spell.”
“I’d rather hear an old man coughing than listen to their (CCR’s) rhythm section,” says San Francisco jazzman Paul deBarros.
But Fogerty’s versatility keeps sneaking through. He even comes on with a little Jeff Beck-ish feedback on “Porterville.” He’s really the only redeeming quality on the record, and even he gets buried beneath the mediocre non-arrangements and un-inventiveness of the other members of the group.
I’ve heard them in person (they played free one day on campus in Berkeley), and they sounded much better than they do on their album. They should release “Ninety-Nine and a Half” as a single: I think it would tear up the Top-40 crowd and sell a million. Fogerty’s a gas but Creedence Clearwater’s Revival may not be worth it.