Southern Senses Archive: 10 Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Album Tracks

  • CCR

Southern Senses counts down the top deep cuts from the legendary band.

(Originally published by Staff 12/10/15)*

Creedence Clearwater Revival is widely known (and sometimes derided) for being a “singles band,” having churned-out a whopping 20 Billboard Hot 100 hits in their short, four-year existence.  Yet many fail to realize that some of CCR’s best material were those tunes which never aired on pop radio:  the album-only tracks.  With a criteria of “no singles released in the U.S. during the band’s original existence or singles released outside the time period which achieved ‘hit’ status,” our panel of experts has voted and delivered a comprehensive list of what they believe to be the album-exclusive cream of the crop.  Continuing our celebration of the 45th anniversary of Pendulum, here are our picks for the 10 Best CCR album cuts:

#10.  “Good Golly Miss Molly” – Bayou Country – 1969   

CCR wasn’t primarily a cover band, but when they recorded covers, they delivered versions that would at least come close to, if not surpass, the originals.  Number 10 on our list is no exception.   A Little Richard cover, “Good Golly Miss Molly” serves as a reminder of CCR’s rock ’n’ roll roots and a demonstration of the group’s ability to bring something fresh to a tried-and-true style.  Another element that elevates the track is J. Fogerty’s dual lead vocal tracks (one leaned hard right, the other hard left) which engulf the listener into the song.  – Cole Powell, Editor

#09.  “It Came Out of the Sky” – Willy and the Poor Boys – 1969

About as much fun as you can have with a song. Fogerty has some incredibly thought-provoking lyrics in so many songs and is able to tell stories with ease and heart, but I didn’t list very many in my picks. This one is not as deep, as so many of his are, but the craft of storytelling is still there.  – Daniel Bridger, Sounds Writer

#08.  “The Working Man” – Creedence Clearwater Revival – 1968

There are several songs that expressed John Fogerty’s undying admiration for the working man. I chose the one that had the literal title. Same bluesy feel you’ll hear with early Cream if you need an audio reference.  –  Daniel Bridger

#07.  “The Night Time Is the Right Time” – Green River – 1969 

Dylan’s version of “Night Time” on his country album (Nashville Skyline) was certainly adequate, but John Fogerty took it to another place and another level. His riveting riff right out of the box and the gravel in his voice makes you believe what he is saying.  – Richard Garrett, Guest Panelist

#06.  “Tombstone Shadow” – Green River – 1969 

 A great track about J. Fogerty’s actual encounter with a fortune teller in San Bernardino, CA, “Tombstone Shadow” is classic CCR blues/bock with a funky groove and ominous lyrics which tie perfectly into the group’s “swamp” mystique.  – Cole Powell

#05.  “Penthouse Pauper” – Bayou Country – 1969

One of the best examples of CCR’s lyric-driven blues/rock that makes you want to sing along, “Penthouse Pauper” is a masterwork of perfection for Fogerty’s vocal and guitar styles. – Brittany Powell, Tastes Writer

#04.  “Keep on Chooglin’” – Bayou Country – 1969

Masterful mouth organ work. When you can alternate between playing scorching lead on guitar to playing the same licks on the harmonica without missing a beat or a note, you are the real deal. The length of the song sneak previews a then new-fangled concept that was just taking hold of the radio airwaves—the fledgling, after-dark FM radio stations playing the full-length tracks. – Richard Garrett

#03.  “Ramble Tamble’” – Cosmo’s Factory – 1970

They don’t have to say a word on this one. The music alone is worth the listen. The arrangement and change in styles in the middle are unexpected and very much welcomed.  – Daniel Bridger

#02.  “Wrote a Song for Everyone’” – Green River – 1969

Yes he did!  Some were feel good, some were introspective, some were statements, some were fantasy (no pun Intended), some were reality. Seems like there was something for everyone. I believe this one was definitely from the heart, especially knowing what came later in Fogerty’s life; it wasn’t all sunshine all the time. Pain, loneliness, even despair are there in this song, but they are counterbalanced with a seeking hope, a searching for an answer that will put all things right.  Maybe he didn’t have anybody that he could talk to about things.  But the songs continued to be written. And we were/are the beneficiaries.  –  Richard Garrett

#01.  “The Midnight Special’” – Willy and the Poor Boys – 1969

Landing at #2 on the only Southern Senses panelist ballot it didn’t top, CCR’s version of early 20th century folk song “The Midnight Special” seems to have gained near-universal approval from our panel as the band’s best album cut, and there’s a reason for that.  Perhaps it’s the deep, blues-infused sound of the band breathing new life into the classic song.  Or perhaps it’s Fogerty’s signature voice delivering lines depicting the bleak outlook of prison life.  I think, though, Fogerty himself may have hit on the most probable reason for the song’s appeal during a live show in 1970 where he introduced it as “a great ol’ sing-a-long song.”  – Cole Powell

Bonus:  The Bubbling Under Chart

All of our panelists agreed that relegating this “Best” list to 10 songs made the task of completion near-impossible given the quality of CCR’s album material.  Therefore, we’ve included three tracks that came in just shy of cracking our top 10 list:

#13.  “Feelin’ Blue’” – Willy and the Poor Boys – 1969 

A  “simple” but genuinely presented Mississippi-style track.  I can almost look across that dry and dusty cotton field from my run-down shack, shading my eyes to peer up the hazy gravel road to see what is coming to lay me low now. – Richard Garrett

#12.  “Bootleg’” – Bayou Country – 1969 

A classic, dark, swampy-sounding song which speaks of human nature’s attraction to “forbidden fruit” set atop a unique and engaging acoustic guitar rhythm. – Cole Powell

#11.  “Cotton Fields’” – Willy and the Poorboys – 1969 

Being from Mississippi, and hearing John Fogerty’s interpretation of this song makes me believe he’s secretly a native son. Old soul coming out of a young man’s voice. – Daniel Bridger


 

*In 2015, Cole Powell and bandmate/wife Brittany D launched Southern Senses, an online publication dedicated to showcasing the best music and cuisine from the Southern United States. With talented site contributors (including Southern rocker J. F. Oakes and restaurateur Christa Reid Neil), the site gained immediate success, attracting the attention of  renowned restaurateur Robert St. John and retired NFL tight end Reggie Kelly, among others. Though Powell opted to discontinue the site in 2017, select articles can be found on the Ramblings of a Mad Man blog section of colepowell.net.


 

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