Saturday, November 5, 2011

NUMBER 1 ALBUMS: CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - GREEN RIVER

Green River
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Green River
Year: 1969
Weeks #1: Four 
Label: Fantasy
Producer: John Fogerty
Track listing: Green River / Commotion / Tombstone Shadow / Wrote a Song for Everyone / Bad Moon Rising / Lodi / Cross-Tie Walker / Sinister Purpose / The Night Time is the Right Time.



Green River was only Creedence Clearwater Revival's third album, but by its August 1969 release, the band had been playing together for a decade. CCR had its origins in 1959 in El Cerrito, California, a suburb of San Francisco. Guitarist John Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford were all in the eighth grade when they formed the Blue Velvets. The band was rounded out by John's older brother Tommy on vocals and rhythm guitar. By 1964, Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets landed a recording contract with Fantasy Records.

Following a name change to the Golliwogs—the label thought it made the band sound British--and the release of seven singles, the quartet was rechristened Creedence Clearwater Revival, with John assuming the role of frontmon. It found success with a cover of Dale Hawkins's "Suzie Q" in the summer of 1968. The group's self-titled debut album stalled at number 57, but the number two single "Proud Mary" would help Bayou Country, its second album, climb to number seven in March 1969.

By then, the group's popularity had earned it spots at high-profile festivals in Denver, Atlanta, Atlantic City, and Woodstock, where it shared the stage with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Janis Joplin.
Soul and R&B cover versions were the standout tracks on the band's 1968 self-titled debut, but by Bayou Country, John Fogerty had developed into a skilled songsmith in his own right. His songs would soon be covered by such artists as Ike & Tina Turner and Elvis Presley.

Creedence Clearwater Revival
On Green River, CCR was more focused than ever. "'Suzie Q' was a cover. 'Proud Mary' was kind of an uptown sophisticated thing, and some of the other stuff was a little more R&B-flavored," says John Fogerty. "When we got into Green River it was a little more rockabilly. It was more in the middle where R&B and country meet, and that's my favorite place. Out of all the albums I've done, Green River is my favorite," adds Fogerty. "The philosophical and musical place where it seemed to be resting was at the very center of my soul. I felt that way in 1969 and I feel that way now."

Part of Fogerty's emotional closeness to the album may be because the title track was inspired by his childhood memories. "There was a river up in Northern California that I always referred to as the Green River," Fogerty says. "From the time I was four until I was about nine, I would go there in the summertime. Many of my childhood memories come from my time spent at that creek. As life went on I just sort of melded everything else into that place."

Green River was the first CCR album recorded at Wally Heider Studio in San Francisco with engineer Russ Gary. The band would use that same combination for all of its future studio albums. Like CCR's first two albums, Green River was recorded fairly quickly, as it was the second of three CCR studio albums Fantasy released in 1969, amidst frequent live performances. "We were well-rehearsed when we went in," says Doug Clifford. "We knew exactly what songs we were going to do, so we could finish in a week."

A pair of double-A-side singles were issued in advance of the album. "Bad Moon Rising" climbed to number two in June, while the flipside, "Lodi," stalled at number 52. "Green River" became CCR's third number two single, while its flipside, "Commotion" reached number 30 in September.

In its fourth week on the chart, Green River hit Number One, marking the first time CCR had hit the top of any Billboard chart. "In the back of my mind, I knew the game is to try to be Number One and try to be as popular as you can be," admits Fogerty. With Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival finally achieved that goal.

THE TOP FIVE
Week of October 4, 1969
1. Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival
2. Johnny Cash at San Quentin, Johnny Cash
3. Blind Faith, Blind Faith
4. Through the Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), Rolling Stones
5. Blood, Sweat & Tears, Blood, Sweat & Tears

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