CCR PUT A SPELL ON WOODSTOCK
Author: Bruce Jenkins Date Posted:28 September 2020
1969 was a heck of a year for Creedence Clearwater Revival. In January they released their second album, Bayou Country. A mere seven months later came another LP, Green River. Astonishingly, CCR released yet another album that storied year: in early November, Willy And The Poor Boys were introduced to the listening public. But wait, there’s more. Between albums three and four, Creedence made a memorable appearance at the Woodstock festival playing a storming eleven song set in the wee small hours of Saturday 17th August 1969.
That this historic performance has only recently been released is puzzling in the extreme. Legend has it that John Fogerty, the main driver of the Creedence train, was unhappy with their after-midnight time slot (let’s spare a thought for Janis Joplin and The Who who followed CCR! Not to mention Jefferson Airplane who played through the dawn some six hours later). Nor did Mr Fogerty rate his band’s performance at the famous festival highly. Astonishing. To these ears—and anyone else I’ve played the double album to—it is an absolute rip-snorter. Meticulously remastered, the sound is fabulous. Each instrument is audible, the mix clean, and John F’s voice is captured in all its sandpapery glory.
Creedence’s set kicks off with what could well be described as the signature tune of their early years, “Born on the Bayou”. With an insistent vocal and a loping, catchy riff, “Born on the Bayou” is the perfect crowd-catcher. The title track of Green River follows up with a swampy vibe and a country lope. Unless they’d snapped up the third album on release two weeks earlier, most of the Woodstock crowd would have found this song unfamiliar, but hearing it now it slots in beautifully. Third song is an urgent cover of the soul classic “Ninety-nine and a half won’t do” from CCR’s self-titled debut.
That spread of songs from the three available albums continues throughout the set. “Commotion”, “Bad Moon Rising” and the band’s cover of “The night time is the right time” come from Green River. From Bayou Country we also get “Bootleg”, the grooving “Keep on chooglin’” and a super live rendition of “Proud Mary”.
The other songs sourced from the debut LP are the dark, obsessive “I put a spell on you” and the mighty “Suzie Q” which concludes the set with ten irresistible minutes of infectious swampy groove. What an encore!
As a snapshot of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s first few years, this set hits the mark. As an audio record of the band in all their ragged live glory, it’s a bullseye. As an addition to our appreciation of the legendary festival, Live At Woodstock scores maximum points. It’s an absolutely crackling commotion.
© Bruce Jenkins 2020