Creedence Clearwater Revival 50th Anniversary Special, Pt. 2 – LIVE AT WOODSTOCK (2019)

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Fifty years after it was captured live on tape, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s legendary Woodstock performance was finally officially released this past August. But was it worth the wait?
The band kicks off the set with three, rockin’ crowd-getters: “Born on the Bayou,” “Green River,” and the Wilson Pickett cover “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do).” Here, all three tunes are played slightly faster than their studio counterparts but are otherwise nearly identical—a common live show “complaint” among CCR’s critics of the day. Still, it’s particularly pleasing to hear “Ninety-Nine,” as no live recording of Creedence’s version has been legally available before this release.
The quartet then switches gears a bit with “Bootleg,” a slower, more grooving swamp track from the crew’s sophomore record, Bayou Country. It’s another tune we’ve never heard live before, and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty gets an unusually prominent spot in the mix with his guitar panned hard left—a pleasant surprise.
The band then rips through a few more of their hits from the year, with “Commotion,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and “Proud Mary,” all played about the correct tempo, indicating that the group has settled down and settled in.
Next, the band delivers their signature blues-rock takes on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put a Spell on You” and Ray Charles’s “The Night Time Is the Right Time.”
Frontman John Fogerty then announces the band’s last song as “Keep on Chooglin’,” an extended jam which served as a standard concert closer for Creedence during that time period. After a 10-minute rendition of the tune, the group leaves, only to return at the behest of the cheering crowd for an 11-minute rendering of “Suzie Q,” a Dale Hawkins cover that had served as CCR’s breakthrough hit a year earlier.
For this rendering, Creedence dispenses with the hokey nonsense rhymes found in the middle of the studio cut and extends the song’s length by a full three minutes, allowing John prime opportunities for additional lead soloing and providing Stu Cook a rare chance at a bass solo. Unfortunately, this is the only track on the record that truly stands out and offers something different from CCR’s other two live albums, The Concert and Live in Europe.
Woodstock is by far the best sounding live recording released by the band, however, and that’s worth something. Yet at the same time, the cleaner sound causes a couple of the tracks to suffer from a lack of “rawness.” For instance, “Night Time” from The Concert is a must-listen, due mainly to the lower recording quality lending an extra measure of appropriate roughness that’s absent from the band’s studio cut of the song. The same can be said of Europe’s “Chooglin’”, with that version winning additional points for more jamming and the inclusion of a slow-blues “Pagan Baby” breakdown mid-way through the performance.
Still, if for nothing else but historical significance, it’s thrilling to have these tunes available at last, and since the band’s surviving members are unlikely to ever record new material together, I’ll take any previously unreleased Creedence record I can get.
Rating: 7/10
Creedence Clearwater Revival 50th Anniversary Special, Pt. 1 – Green River
Creedence Clearwater Revival 50th Anniversary Special, Pt. 3 – Born on the Bayou
Creedence Clearwater Revival 50th Anniversary Special, Pt. 4 – Willy and the Poor Boys