Friday, July 22, 2005

American Masters - I

Two Creedence Clearwater Revival albums were played back to back (to back to back) in the car for the past 3 weeks. With their bright, fat, treble-y sound, CCR's music is great when played loud in the car.

We love CCR for the singles. Like the Beatles' Red and Blue albums, people can probably recite the songs on "Chronicles" in sequence. But what surprises me now is the quality of the albums.

The albums in play were "Willy And the Poor Boys" and the eponymous debut album.

Without question, "Willy" is a far superior album than the debut (and Cosmo's Factory and Green River were still better), and what a fine idea behind the album.

Just the title "Willy and the Poor Boys" takes you right down to the South. The cover is a simple shot of the band jamming, really old-school. Just 4 musicians playing in a little town, "down on the corner", as the kids gather round to "watch the magic boy".

When every other band in 1968 or 1969 was going for the groovy-psychedelic-spaced-out artwork, CCR adopted a refreshingly honest look (the previous albums attempted that Grateful Dead/Jefferson Airplane look, but I think better sense - and John Fogerty - prevailed).

Their version of "Midnight Special" or "Cotton Fields" is not some gratuitous, rural folk-blues cover. They are truly great interpretations of the songs. More importantly, they fit into the theme or the mood of the album.

"Fortunate Son" delivers a huge punch with its rather blunt politics: the privileged will live happily, the poor won't ever. For a long time, I associated the song only with the Vietnam war. Then I thought of how the lyrics could fit into any time and any society with great social inequalities, like say, India. As they say, great art becomes universal by being very local.

"Don't Look Now" could have been written by Kabir or a Zen monk. The lines "Don't look now, someone's done your starvin'/don't look now, someone's done your prayin' too) still send shivers down my spine.

Great, great American rock and roll.

1 comment:

uma said...

wooh! ccr is great car music. :)) welcome to blogging.