Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country (1969)
Happy Monday and welcome back to Your Dad’s Car Stereo! We’re taking it to the country today with the Southern Rock group from Central California, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Bayou Country was the band’s second studio album after seeing moderate commercial success on their self-titled debut with the single “Susie Q.” This was the first of three releases in 1969, and it was followed up by Green River and Willy And The Poor Boys. Willy and their fifth release, Cosmo’s Factory were arguably their most influential releases, but it was Bayou Country that cemented their place in Southern Rock. Despite the fact that the band was only active for five years, they had an enormous impact on the development of the Southern Rock movement. CCR forged a path ahead and was a precursor to bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, and later acts like Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, and The Outlaws. The band’s time came up quickly though, and they broke up in 1972 after infighting and have rarely spoken since.
Bayou Country isn’t as full of the band’s classic hits as you would think, but does contain notable releases like “Born On The Bayou” and “Proud Mary.” What is more important about this album is the impact that it had on future releases, both by CCR and other groups. In 1969, there were few groups making the same kind of music as CCR, but Southern Rock exploded in the 1970s, in large part due to the trailblazing nature of CCR and The Allman Brothers Band. Bayou Country is an interesting album because it builds throughout the whole album. You start with a slowed down swamp rock song in “Born On The Bayou,” consistently building up to “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “Penthouse Pauper,” before cooling off on “Proud Mary” and “Keep On Chooglin’.” I’ve never seen that approach to organizing an album before and it pays dividends, keeping you interested enough to want to hear what the next song is going to be. Enjoy this Southern Rock staple!
Dad’s Thoughts- The Breakdown
Born On The Bayou: Bayou Country opens with the title track “Born On The Bayou.” This is a superb example of swamp rock done right and some of CCR’s best early work. “Born On The Bayou” is groovy, cohesive, and unique. Lyrically this isn’t a particularly powerful song, but musically it’s practically flawless. Extra attention goes to John Fogerty for his guitar work and vocals. Dad’s Rating 8/10
Bootleg: “Bootleg” is a really solid track. It’s not a stunner, but musically there’s enough there to set it apart from a lot of filler songs. The call and response on guitar is well-done, but my biggest gripe is with the percussion. The scratching (it almost sounds like they played a comb) is fairly abrasive and not my favorite part of the song. Give it a listen if you haven’t heard it before! At the very least, you have another song from CCR that you’re familiar with. Dad’s Rating 6/10
Graveyard Train: This is almost a straight blues track. If they used acoustic guitars instead of electric, I would be comfortable placing it firmly in the blues genre. This wasn’t what I expected to hear when I threw this record on, I expected more songs like “Fortunate Son,” but every band has their roots in something, and for CCR it’s a blues track like “Graveyard Train.” This is an awesome song. It’s laid back, bluesy, and pulls your mind to the Deep South. The harmonica solo puts me straight in the Mississippi Delta and I love it. Fogerty can really blow that mouth organ too. There aren’t many instances of the harmonica blending well into a rock track (John Popper and Blues Traveler come to mind immediately), but it’s integrated seamlessly between wailing vocals and a twangy guitar. This is a deep cut that you shouldn’t skip. Great track! Dad’s Rating 7/10
Good Golly Miss Molly: “Good Golly Miss Molly” threw me for a loop at first because it’s a stark contrast from “Graveyard Train.” This is much more of a straight rock track than the former, and a great example of the other side of their music, that rock side. CCR wasn’t just a blues group or a rock group; they blended the two genres really smoothly, so it’s neat to see where exactly their influences laid. As a song, this is a great one too. CCR could rock with the best of them. Dad’s Rating 7/10
Penthouse Pauper: “Penthouse Pauper” is the best of the last two songs. You get a little bluesy twang and big riffs from the guitar in the same verse. Blues-inspired lyrics contrast a rock inspired drumline and a guitar solo to rival the biggest in the game in the late 1960s. “Penthouse Pauper” is one of the dep cuts that never got a lot of airplay, but is worth putting in your rotation. Give it a listen! Dad’s Rating 7/10
Proud Mary: Who doesn’t love “Proud Mary?” So many artists have had their crack at “Proud Mary,” but CCR did it first. This is such a clean song that you can’t help but sing along to. Like “Penthouse Pauper” it combines the best of rock and blues. The guitar is beautifully melodic, and this most restrained version of Fogerty’s signature vocals fits the song perfectly. Dad’s Rating 9/10
Keep On Chooglin’: I’m not sure what it means “to choogle” but CCR clearly does and they made a song about it. Lyrically, this song is absurd and I love it. Just listening to it, all I hear is the word “chooglin’.” Musically it’s not a bad track! There’s plenty of instrumentation to keep you entertained between the outbursts of chooglin’. Would I recommend this song to a friend looking for an introduction to CCR? No. Would I listen to it as a good laugh track? Probably. Keep on chooglin’ y’all, whatever that means! Dad’s Rating 5/10
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