“Creedence Clearwater Revival’s mesmerizing Royal Albert Hall concert finally sees the light of day: album review”


What a long, strange journey the long-lost Creedence Clearwater Revival Royal Albert Hall concert album and film has had in the half century since its release.

The show and road footage were recorded by the BBC during the group's first European tour in April 1970, but were never broadcast. The recording likely got stuck in the infamous legal battles between the group and its original label, Fantasy Records, although footage from the concert continued to surface over the decades (even appearing in a TV commercial for a low-budget Creedence greatest hits album). the 80s). Even more confusingly, Fantasy released a very similar live album entitled “The Royal Albert Hall Concert” before they realized that the tapes had been mislabeled and the album had actually been released ten weeks earlier and 5,000 miles away at the band's triumphant homecoming concert band at the Oakland Coliseum (the album was quickly renamed “The Concert”).

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But after sitting on shelves for five decades, the concert and film are now being lavishly released, with various deluxe editions centered around a 12-song album and a long video that is both a short one Documentary – narrated, of course, by Jeff Bridges, whose devotion to the band in The Big Lebowski made him a patron saint of Creedence – and, best of all, a rousing film of the entire concert (it's on Netflix available). The Royal Albert Hall show sees the band at the absolute peak of their powers, the peak of their incredibly short superstar career, which saw them record an incredible seven top five singles and five top 10 albums (two of which went to number one). landed for a little over two years and then faded as quickly as they had risen.

In fact, the concert film is the best document yet of what an incredible thing tape Creedence was. Yes, their sound was based entirely on the songs, vocals and lead guitar of frontman John Fogerty, whose dictatorial control of the band made them an overnight star – ironically more than a decade after they first started playing together in middle school began – and finally tore them apart. But often overlooked is the band's loose but deceptively disciplined groove, honed over many years in bars, balls and parties before breaking through in 1968 with a swampy cover of Dale Hawkins' “Suzie Q.” Like their idols Booker T & the MGs, the band took the definition of “rhythm section” to heart, settling on an original groove for the slower numbers and fiery energy for the rockers. Fogerty's big brother Tom – the band's original leader – embraced his role as rhythm guitarist with spartan literalism, his playing at times resembling both a percussion instrument and a melodic one: he played almost exclusively chords, sitting on one (often a seventh or chord instrument) . a jazz chord) for minutes with choppy beats or a fluid beat that forms the basis for the band's nimble groove – even bassist Stu Cook, with his nimble melodic runs, and rock-solid drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford played with more flash than him.

The special thing about this concert film is that you can experience the band in full swing: the setlist and playing don't differ much from the other two live albums recorded during this time, but their almost telepathic communication comes into its own fascinating for almost anyone who enjoys watching live music. Yes, it's John Fogerty's band, but the band members observe others just as intently, looking into each other's eyes and closing in on each other. The footage of the band's fiery set at Woodstock – also released 50 years after the gig – is almost as exciting but darker lit (and obviously there's a very different mood between headlining a lofty venue like the Royal Albert Hall and watching a chaotic 2:30 a.m. performance by the Grateful Dead at a legendary but chaotic festival).

It's no understatement to call this concert a highlight: according to the recent Creedence story “A Song for Everyone,” the show was the beginning of the end. As the crowd roared for an encore that John Fogerty, bafflingly, refused to play (what Bridges refers to in the film as a “ten-minute ovation”), longstanding resentments finally came to the surface. Tom Fogerty left the band less than a year later and Creedence splintered a year later.

But that night they truly were one of the greatest bands in the world as they played blistering versions of “Born on the Bayou,” “Green River,” “Fortunate Son,” “Travelin' Band” and of course “Proud Mary.” And 52 years later, you can see more than ever what all the fuss was about.

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