Centerfield by John Fogerty

Buy Centerfield

Centerfield by John FogertyA true solo album in every sense of the word, Centerfield, features John Fogerty writing every song as well as playing every instrument on those songs. Simple in composition while rich in melody, this comeback album which was his most popular post Creedence Clearwater Revival release. Still, the album was ludicrously marred by a lawsuit in which Fogerty’s former label sued him for allegedly plagiarizing himself. After several years in litigation, Fogerty ultimately won that case and was compensated for all legal costs.

The final Creedence album was Mardi Gras, released in 1972. Fogerty then began a solo career, starting with a 1973 debut where he played covers of mainly country music hits. A second solo album was released in 1975 and, despite weak sales, it yielded Fogerty’s first solo hit, “Rockin’ All Over the World”. The following year, Fogerty finished an album called, Hoodoo, but it was rejected as unsatisfactory by his record company and the master tapes were later destroyed.

Fogerty entered into an extended hiatus which lasted the better part of eight years before entering the studio in mid 1984. While many of the songs have a definite nostalgic touch, there is a streak of bitterness on this album, especially when directed towards Saul Zaentz, the owner of Fogerty’s former label, Fantasy Record.


Centerfield by John Fogerty
Released: January 15, 1985 (Warner Bros.)
Produced by: John Fogerty
Recorded: The Plant Studios, Sausalito, CA, July–September 1984
Side One Side Two
The Old Man Down the Road
Rock and Roll Girls
Big Train (From Memphis)
I Saw It On T.V.
Mr. Greed
Searchlight
Centerfield
I Can’t Help Myself
Zanz Kant Danz (Vanz Kant Danz)
Primary Musician
John Fogerty – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Saxophone, Harmonica, Drums, Percussion

Zaentz sued Fogerty specifically over the opening track, “The Old Man Down the Road”, which he claimed was too similar to the song “Run Though the Jungle” from Cosmo’s Factory (Fogerty displayed the differences between the two songs by playing each live in court). “The Old Man Down the Road” does have an indelible riff with a subtle blend of guitars – acoustic, electric, and slide – along with some classic tremolo effects to make it all so cool. This also features an interesting vocal melody and just the right lead riff to make this all quintessential Fogerty.

“Rock and Roll Girls” follows as an accessible pop/rocker which became a big radio hit in its own right. Built on a three-chord, driving rock riff with a rhythm and beat to match, Fogerty’s vocals hit a slight yodel during the verses. Of particular note is the saxophone, where the multi-instrumentalist has a couple of cool leads in between the verses. “Big Train (From Memphis)” is a pure country rocker through and through, so authentic that it sounds like it must be a cover (although its not).

The middle third of the album hits a bit of a creative lull. “I Saw It On T.V.” has the flow and temperament of a CCR song with steady, strummed acoustic guitar and nice transitional guitars between vocal lines, which are much more refined than Fogerty’s usual soulful screed. “Mr. Greed” doesn’t quite work as well as some of the other songs, featuring a pure, hard rock riff which heavy guitar interludes in between the lines and sophomoric lyrics. “Searchlight” is a more interesting track which blends classic blues and Bayou country along with some Motown elements all under a heavy rock vocal and drum beat.

 
The title song is upbeat and catchy with a choppy percussion effect leading the way before the full song kicks in with slide guitar, bouncy organ, and thumping bass. Fogerty’s vocals on “Centerfield” are at their finest on this album, even if the lyrics are slightly corny, and the chorus is its most melodic part. “I Can’t Help Myself” is a unique and entertaining track with a pure new wave in beat and effect, especially the multitude of electronic percussion effects. Once again, the vocal melodies carry the day, making it a lost gem of a pop song. “Zanz Kant Danz (a.k.a. Vanz Kant Danz)” closes the album, with Caribbean elements in the intro and interesting beats, guitar riffs and synths throughout. The verse section is almost modern disco and the mid section has an extended percussion section, adding to the overall dance elements of this closing track.

Centerfield performed well worldwide, topping the charts in several countries including the USA. It also, surprisingly, reached the Top 10 on the American Country Albums chart. Fogerty followed-up the album with Eye of the Zombie in 1986, which was much less successful and led to another extended hiatus from music.

~

1985 Page

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 30th anniversary of 1985 albums.

 

Cosmo’s Factory by
Creedence Clearwater Revival

Buy Cosmo’s Factory

Cosmo's Factory by Creedence Clearwater RevivalIf nothing else, Cosmo’s Factory is a unique and unconventional album in its structure and approach, as it starts out oddly and packs all its pop/rock firepower towards the back end. That being said, this still ranks as one of the finest albums by the prolific Creedence Clearwater Revival and captures the band near their peak musically and creatively. The album was also a worldwide success commercially as it topped the album charts in six nations and was certified Gold less than six months after its release.

The fifth studio album over a span of just two years, Cosmo’s Factory follows a prolific year of 1969 which saw three albums released by CCR. Recording for this album actually began in late 1969 with the first of three “Double-A-Side” singles which came out ahead of this album, with each one reaching the Top 5 on the US pop charts. Each of these successful singles were written by guitarist and lead vocalist John Fogerty while four out of the remaining five non-single tracks are cover songs.

The album’s title comes from a warehouse in Berkeley, CA which the group used as rehearsal space early in their career. Drummer Doug Clifford (whose nickname was “Cosmo”) called this practice space “The Factory” because they practiced every day, like going to a regular job.


Cosmo’s Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released: July 25, 1970 (Fantasy)
Produced by: John Fogerty
Recorded: Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, Late 1969–June 1970
Side One Side Two
Ramble Tamble
Before You Accuse Me
Travelin’ Band
Ooby Dooby
Lookin’ Out My Back Door
Run Through the Jungle
Up Around the Bend
My Baby Left Me
Who’ll Stop the Rain
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Long as I Can See the Light
Group Musicians
John Fogerty – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Piano, Sax, Harmonica
Tom Fogerty – Guitars
Stu Cook – Bass
Doug Clifford – Drums

For all the hits on Cosmo’s Factory, the listener has to wait nearly a quarter of the album’s running time to get to one. The seven-minute-plus “Ramble Tamble” was the last song composed for the album and the only Fogerty original not released as a single. It starts with quasi-funky beat which quickly changes to a hoe down rhythm by guitarist Tom Fogerty and bassist Stu Cook. After some short vocal sections, the song enters a long musical rock intermediary which builds in intensity as it goes along and, when it finally breaks, it returns to the main beat by Clifford and one more quick verse. Next comes “Before You Accuse Me” a pure blues cover of a song originally by Bo Diddley, with this version having a little of the CCR “swamp” attitude on top.

Incredibly, CCR toured constantly while recording their five albums between 1968 and 1970. “Travelin’ Band” portrays this side of the band as a pure, fifties style rocker with Fogerty’s vocals conjuring Jerry Lee Lewis and/or Little Richard in the hyper scream mode. The song reached the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. “Ooby Dooby” is a Roy Obison cover that seems odd and out of place this early in the album, although its fifties style does fall in place with the previous track. Starting with “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”, the album gains momentum and continues to improve right to the end. On this return to the traditional sound of CCR, the dual guitars of the Fogerty brothers are a highlight along with its great melody which delivers the colorful imagery of the lyrics.

 
“Run Through the Jungle” has a psychedelic beginning with well treated guitars, piano and kick drum. The song’s body features the best bass performance by Cook thus far on the album, a cool rock riff throughout, and a later distorted harmonica lead which gives it a live, blues-club feel. “Run Through the Jungle” and “Up Around the Bend” were featured as the second Double-A single in April 1970. This later track is the most straight-forward, direct pop/rock song on the album, complete with cool guitar riffs and a fantastic hook. “My Baby Left Me” follows as an upbeat R&B track, which seems to fit better with the CCR sound than the cover tracks on the first side of the album. Here there are great guitar sounds and animated symbol-centric drums.

The album finishes with Fogerty’s two finest originals wrapped around an extended version of the Marvin Gaye classic “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. On this eleven-plus-minute jam the group does a decent job at being cohesive yet spontaneous with the main section featuring a “spooky” sounding bass by Cook and strategic rolls by Clifford. the pure folk “Who’ll Stop the Rain” adds yet another dimension to this very diverse album, with a potent message, simple riff and structure and another great melody by John Fogerty. “Long as I Can See the Light” is a bluesy, electric piano ballad with very soulful vocals by Fogerty. It starts with a steady drum beat, which betrays the overall tone of this Motown-inspired track that features some sax behind the verses and then a full-fledged solo later. This excellent closer puts a bow on this album perfectly.

Cosmo’s Factory only grew in stature and commercial viability throughout the years, eventually selling over four million copies. However, it was later revealed that internal tensions began within the group during these sessions and, after two more years and two more albums, Creedence Clearwater Revival disbanded leaving a short, but potent, legacy.

~

1970 Page ad

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of 1970 albums.

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival
1969 albums

Buy Bayou Country
Buy Green River
Buy Willy and the Poor Boys

Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969 albumsCreedence Clearwater Revival was incredibly prolific in their earliest recording period. Following their self-titled debut album in mid 1968, the group released three more studio albums during the calendar year 1969 – Bayou Country. Green River and Willie and the Poor Boys – making it a grand total of four full-length album releases in just 18 months of real time. Composer, lead vocalist and guitarist John Fogerty produced all three of the 1969 albums and was the main driver in forging the sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival, which led to several hit songs at the time and has stood the test of time.

The group took their three-part from three separate sources of varying relevance. “Credence” was a name of a friend of guitarist Tom Fogerty, “clear water” was the nickname of their favorite beer, and “revival” stems from the four members’ renewed commitment to their band, following some uncertainty when John Fogerty and drummer Doug Clifford were drafted into military service.

Bayou Country was recorded in Los Angeles in late 1968 and released in early 1969, eventually reaching the Top Ten on the album charts. Almost immediately, the group got to work on their third album, Green River, while continuing to tour heavily. While not as successful commercially as its predecessor, Green River received much more solid ratings critically and led to the band being invited to perform at the Woodstock Music Festival. By the Autumn of 1969, the group was working on material for Willy and the Poor Boys, which would become their third Top Ten album of the year.


Bayou Country by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released: January, 1969 (Fantasy Records)
Produced by: John Fogerty
Recorded: RCA Studios, Hollywood, CA, Late 1968
Side One Side Two
Born On the Bayou
Bootleg
Graveyard Train
Good Golly Miss Molly
Penthouse Pauper
Proud Mary
Keep On Chooglin’

Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released: January, 1969 (Fantasy Records)
Produced by: John Fogerty
Recorded: Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco, March-June 1969
Side One Side Two
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

Willie and the Poor Boys by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released: November, 1969 (Fantasy Records)
Produced by: John Fogerty
Recorded: Fantasy Studios, Berkely, CA, Late 1969
Side One Side Two
Down On the Corner
It Came Out of the Sky
Cotton Fields
Poorboy Shuffle
Feelin’ Blue
Fortunate Son
Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me)
The Midnight Special
Side o’ the Road
Effigy
Band Musicians (All 3 Albums)
John Fogerty – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitars, Piano, Harmonica
Tom Fogerty – Guitars, Vocals
Stu Cook – Bass
Doug Clifford – Drums

 

“Born On the Bayou” is a rather apt opener for Bayou Country, with a memorable, repetitive, vibrato guitar riff topped by Fogerty’s distinct vocals. This track has close to a psychedelic rock vibe and ambiance, with lyrics that tell of a mythical childhood, far away from Fogerty’s home in California. This is followed by “Bootleg”, a simple twang with a convincing southern groove. “Graveyard Train” has a slow, quasi-blues progression riff that never really leaves, so the only real interesting part is the harmonica solo halfway through.

Bayou Country by Creedence Clearwater RevivalSide two of Bayou Country is superior to the first side, as the songs are more upbeat and contain better variety. Even the cover “Good Golly Miss Molly” is interesting as a hyped up, Beatle-ized version of the Little Richard classic. “Penthouse Pauper” follows as an electric blues rocker with a great bass by Stu Cook. The album closer “Keep On Chooglin'” is an extended, droning blues song, decorated by lead instruments, most especially John Fogerty’s harmonica.

Of course, the highlight of the side (and the album) is “Proud Mary”, probably the quintessential Creedence song. With a very direct and melodic approach, the song was written by John Fogerty while he was still in the National Guard in 1967. The song peaked at #2 on the US charts and was covered by many other artists, most famously the souped-up soul version by Ike and Tina Turner.

The title song continues the Southern vibe of Green River, albeit a bit more refined. Dual electric guitars and strummed acoustic set the scene for the song about a vacation spot from the Fogerty brother’s childhood, although John Fogerty admits that he made up the title “Green River” to continue the “Bayou” vibe. The song reached #2 on the US Billboard charts. This is followed by the rapid country-rock of “Commotion”, which sounds heavily influenced by Johnny Cash, but with a more rock oriented edge. “Tombstone Shadow” is another Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revivalfine track as the group fully embraces the late sixties blues-rock genre. A great rhythm by Cook and Clifford supports the monotone, whining lead guitar of John Fogerty – very close to Cream’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” from Wheels of Fire. The folksy ballad “Wrote a Song for Everyone” contains a slow country waltz with topical rock and blues elements, Obviously influenced by The Band, but still a deep and pleasant listen to end side one of Green River.

An upbeat song with an ominous message, “Bad Moon Rising” is driven totally by the rhythm and strumming, making it perhaps the most complete “band” song to reach the popular charts. Influenced by the film The Devil and Daniel Webster, the song was released as the lead single from this album just a few months after Bayou Country, and reached #2 in America and #1 in the UK. Another popular song, “Lodi” has that fantastic, emerging CCR formula – great folk music driven by the contrasting vocal melody by John Fogerty, making this the best overall song on Green River. The remainder of the album is filled by standard but solid fare. “Cross-Tie Walker” is a formulaic country song with the lone exception of Cook’s descending bass run during the second verse, while “Sinister Purpose” goes in a much harder rock direction, with John Fogerty’s psychedelic leads above Tom Fogerty’s fuzzy rock riffs. Nappy Brown’s “The Night Time Is the Right Time” is pure updated fifties rock, complete with choppy “doo-wop” backing vocals and a steady, boogie-woogie structure. This closing cover is also edgy like some of early Zeppelin.

Willie and the Poor Boys by Creedence Clearwater RevivalAlthough it contains a couple of really strong highlights, Willie and the Poor Boys is the weakest of the three albums released in 1969. The title song “Down On the Corner” anchors side one, starting with a layered percussive click track, led by the ever-present cowbell. An infectious song of rustic rural style, the song peaked at #3 as the group’s final hit of 1969. The rest of the side is really little more than filler. “It Came Out of the Sky” is old-timely rock and roll with twangy riffs between each vocal line, while the cover of Huddie Ledbetter’s “Cotton Fields” nods more towards the 1950s folk version by Odetta & Larry. “Poorboy Shuffle” is only interesting because it so low-tech, almost like capturing a rehearsal jam, mid-stream, while “Feelin’ Blue” fades in over the previous track with Clifford’s drums and a richer production.

“Fortunate Son” is the real highlight of the Willie and the Poor Boys. A short and intense track, built from a stiff rock rhythm and a strategically slight lead guitar. The song is an anti-war anthem which was inspired by the wedding of David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon in 1968. “Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me)” is another rockabilly standard, leading to the more interesting “The Midnight Special”, a traditional song with an original arrangement with tremolo guitar intro and bass-driven verses with rich vocal harmonies. Mimicking the first side, the fourth track on the second side contains a low-tech instrumental called “Side o’ the Road”. The six and a half minute closer “Effigy” is an attempt at a dramatic philosophical/spiritual piece. But this falls just short as it really never leaves the four basic chords, while painting over the same territory that Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” forged a few years earlier, and to much greater effect.

Following their productive and fantastic output of 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival continued their success at the dawn of the seventies, peaking with their 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory and several more hit songs.

~

1969 Images

Part of Classic Rock Review’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of 1969 albums.