Music Review: Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival – Greatest Hits & All-Time Classics

Published on November 6th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Danny R. Phillips

ulitmate ccr cover

In the opening line of Alec Palao’s liner notes for the new three-disc set Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival, he makes the following statement: “If any one act could legitimately stake a claim to be America’s Beatles, then that would be Creedence Clearwater Revival.”

That is some bold shit.

I generally do not buy into such brazen assertions but I stopped, took a deep breath or two, put the discs on, thought back to a childhood steeped in my mother’s CCR fascination. and realized that Palao may be onto something. When listening to Ultimate it is not a stretch to understand that CCR is indeed one of America’s greatest rock & roll bands; all the hits on hand make the case: “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Hey Tonight,” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” the gang’s all here. In fact, every track you would want or need is peppered throughout the set but what sets Ultimate apart from other CCR greatest hits packages like Chronicle (the definitive one up to now) is Ultimate‘s inclusion of deep cuts, live tracks, and covers.

One spin through Rick Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou” and it is easy to hear that the boys in CCR had a deep influence from the Nelson/Everly Brothers sound that carries across the band’s entire catalog much like The Beatles were indebted to Holly/Berry/Perkins. Creedence’s run through Natty Brown’s “The Night Time is the Right Time” (made famous by Ray Charles) shows they could more than handle R&B, while their turn at Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ psychobilly classic “I Put a Spell on You” is given a whole new flavor from these four sons of California. In addition, Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly” is given a loving touch, turning it into a rager by filling in the piano lines with Tom Fogerty’s roaring guitar.

Gems not known to the casual listener are generously included here. We get “Porterville,” “Tombstone Shadow,” “Bootleg,” “(Wish I Could) Hideaway,” and many others. And that’s just the first two discs. These 40 tracks show off John Fogerty’s prowess as a songwriter yes, but they also show the adept ability of Doug Clifford to be understated when needed and powerful on the drums, Stu Cook’s melodic touch on the bass and Tom Fogerty’s substantial chops as a rhythm guitarist.

Disc Three is a collection of 12 live cuts including the mammoth nearly ten-minute long “Keep on Chooglin’.” It is a live version of a solid greatest hits package: “Lodi,” “Fortunate Son,” “Suzie-Q,” and several others highlight that CCR were not just a recording act, they were a great live band that worked well together and could put on one hell of a show.

Though label disputes, band infighting, bad decisions, and John Fogerty’s stubbornness towards his former band mates have all put a bit of tarnish on the CCR legacy, it does not lessen the power of the music. Put on your headphones, block out the world, and let Ultimate CCR try and sell you on America’s Beatles.

Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival is available today from Fantasy Records and Concord Music Group. You can order it from the Concord website.

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