BUZZ OF THE WEEK

One of the energising aspects of supporting a large – many would say excessive – music collection involves those moments when something crops up on the turntable (or, whisper it, in the CD player) that provides an unexpected thrill.

It might be something from years past whose charms have faded from memory, leading to a mild shock of surprise at just how good this album was/is. Or perhaps it is a disc that slipped into the shelves without fanfare or particular notice and has sat there, patiently waiting through the years, for its moment of audio glory. Maybe a gift, received with slightly strained grace because what you really wanted at the time was something else… or the most direct path of all, a decision ‘I want to hear that record and I want it now!’ and you burst into spontaneous smiles because it hits the bullseye.

Any of these can produce the transitory but life affirming high we call ‘Buzz Of the Week’.

When this listening levitation occurs at a time when I’m able to jot down some responses, I’d like to share the buzz with you. Maybe you’ll check it out and get buzzed too. A trail of sound waves buzzing around the world; what a fine image.

Here is an initial Buzz Of The Week offering, one that slightly surprised me in the strength of the positive response.

First song opens with a drone – or is it a moan? – before a simple, mesmeric guitar figure starts up. Then the singer; warning, growling, instructing…

Now, when I was just a little boy

Standin’ to my Daddy’s knee

My Poppa said, “Son, don’t let the man get you

Do what he done to me”

‘Cause he’ll get you…

Let me tell you folks, you may have heard this song – the other side of the single from this album – as part of a greatest hits package or on ‘Gold FM’ radio but don’t be fooled. This record is the real deal: rampantly raw, swamp-driven and snakey, angry and exultant.

Take you a glass of water

Make it against the law

See how good the water tastes

When you can’t have any at all

Bootleg, bootleg

Bootleg, howl.

There is moonshine whisky, there is illicit sex, there is the irresistible groove.

There is death in abundance.

For the graveyard, thirty boxes made of bone

For the graveyard, thirty boxes made of bone

Mister undertaker, take this coffin from my home

The lyrics are from the first three album cuts:

“Born on the Bayou”,

“Bootleg”

“Graveyard train”

CCR - Bayou Country (back)

John Fogerty was serving his National Guard time in 1968 and playing guitar to stay sane. His band’s first album had done OK but John and his brother and the two other members of Creedence Clearwater Revival wanted more. What drew this San Franciscan longhair to the steamy mythology of the Mississippi? What images of the deep South dripped into the powerful, dark-shadowed current, leavened with anger and frustration and baked in the West Coast sun?

The ingredients are varied but of unimpeachable pedigree.

The base of this potent gumbo can be found in the haunted suffering of Howlin’ Wolf “Moaning at Midnight”, though this is not a blues record. Nor is it just suffering, it’s soul food. So add dollops of Booker T and the MGs, folding in the tight rhythms and the almighty groove. Some sanctified Pops Staples style guitar adds both zing and sigh. There’s a yearning, a reaching out towards… what? Heaven or hell? It’s the dilemma embedded in the life and music of Little Richard, another clear influence on Fogerty’s song-writing and directly honoured by the inclusion of “Good Golly Miss Molly” on Bayou Country.

I most love Fogerty when he is pissed off. While his spine-tingling pinnacle is “Fortunate Son” from Willy And The Poorboys, “Penthouse pauper” on this album is pretty damn good.

If I were a hacksaw, my blade would be razor sharp

And if I were a politician I could prove that money talk

You can find the tallest building

Lord, I’d have me a house at the top

… Oh, when you got nothin’, it’s all the same

Then there’s the single. It was massive everywhere then, and is still a staple of Hits-of-Yesteryear radio worldwide. But listen to this rollicking story of escape to a new, rich-hued river-life in its original album context and see if even the over-played “Proud Mary” doesn’t give you a thrill.

Finally, “Keep on chooglin’” takes us out with a loping, endless Creedence groove, rollin’ on like a mighty waterway.

Now I don’t know anything about the deep south, never seen the Mississippi, haven’t a clue how to conjugate the verb ‘to choogle’ and wouldn’t know a bayou if I was up to my armpits in it, but I was lifted up and carried along by this vivid postcard from a mythic past.

If you come down to the river

Bet you gonna find some people who live

You don’t have to worry ’cause you have no money

People on the river are happy to give

Bayou Country, released early in 1969, also continues to give.  What a buzz.

Creedence - Bayou

Further Listening

Howlin’ Wolf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMGvXoitlLI

Booker T & The MGs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHEZ4G-V-XY

20 comments

  1. One reason my comments are brief lately is due to crook shoulders – no doubt related to a CCR inspired incident many moonshines ago when I hoisted a mate on each arm, oblivious to the searing of tendons. You might understand why I’ve avoided them since. But congratulations are due – your wonderfully written article almost had me whipping ‘Brilliant Corners’ out of the CD player and ripping into CCR. Well the embargo is broken anyway.
    Thanks VC.
    Cheers,
    DD

    Like

    1. Thanks a lot DD. Sorry to hear that moonshine machismo lead to some tricky tendonitis. But very glad to hear that rapprochement between you and Creedence is underway. That it almost displaced Monk is high praise indeed!

      Like

  2. When friends go on about how The Doors were the best American rock band I like to break out my CCR records. I’m not sure I’ve ever changed anyone’s mind, but I’m sure they at least considered it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Continue to fight the good fight brother. Yours is a true cause!

      Like

  3. Interesting Bruce but I can’t say, Fortunate Son aside, they’ve ever truly grabbed me by the nuts and demanded I listen. I’ll give my cheapo K-Tel compilation another spin tonight.

    Now Fortunte Son though …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The trouble with a CCR comp is that you have to endure ‘Down on the corner’ and ‘Out my back door’ and the like. See if you can borrow Bayou Country on silver disc and just give it one cranked up listen…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear you. That’s why I tend to stick to the big hits like Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising and (did I ever mention I liked it before?) Fortunate Son.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sure. That’s why FS forced its way into this post. It is brilliant. (I think folk will have got our combined message now, mate).

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I shan’t mention it again if you don’t. Especially my view that music genuinely doesn’t get much better. Nope, I’ll be totally mute on that point.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Mute it is. Don’t mention that rare combination of lyric and music totally meshing to create something much stronger than the sum of the parts. Silent it is.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. And its not like I’ve listened to it twice since we began this conversation. It ain’t me … It ain’t me …

          Liked by 1 person

        5. I ain’t no military son…
          Hey, wanna form a band?

          Liked by 1 person

        6. The Baldies? I’m not totally sure it would be fair on the ladies of the world to unleash that on them, to be honest Bruce.

          Although you’re now making me listen to CSNY ‘Ohio’ by association.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. Ooh. Nice one. Four Way Street is brilliant.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I only have a CCR compilation. On silver disc. I like a chunk of it, but I’ve yet to investigate further. Always good to get a starting point and this sounds right good.

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    1. As you probably noted from my comment to Joe, above, I reckon a CCR comp serves the band poorly. So that is a definite ‘yes’, J. I reckon either Bayou Country or the next album, Green River are excellent places to tackle Creedence album-wise.

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      1. The very best bands are often misrepresented by compilations. I’ve thrown those two on my list of albums to check out – thanks a bunch (again!).

        Liked by 1 person

  5. […] unforgivable. Choose the albums (more consistent than you might imagine; an example was re-visited here) or seek out a later CD […]

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  6. Yeah your preaching to the converted. This album (And a few more of the early ones) really did it and does it for CB. When they cut loose and do that thing they do, well it was a big reason I fell in love with this kind of music. Radio play of their songs back in the day was just a taste of what was lying underneath. One of the first tunes i heard was ‘Suzie Q’ and that was the hook. “Good Golly Miss Molly’ I mean are you kidding? CB still goes nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The singles as ‘a taste of what was lying underneath’ – I like that. Very true. Boogie on, man.

      Liked by 1 person

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