The Singles Collection
Creedence Clearwater Revival
When Creedence burst upon the scene in the late '60s, they sounded as though they crawled out of a backwater roadhouse in the Louisiana bayou. In fact, their music was slowly incubated in bars and clubs around the San Francisco bay area. Tom and John Fogerty called El Cerrito, California home and it was obvious that as kids, they must've spent many a night under the covers listening to radio broadcasts beamed across the heavens from the delta swamplands. Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Creedence was the perfect band at the perfect time. They concocted a hit out of a cover version of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" and thanks to underground FM radio stations, CCR was off and running. And we're all the better off for it.
We don't know if Webster will ever have a definition for the term "biker music," but certainly Creedence (along with the Allmans and a few others) deserve to have their photo next to the definition. Like Harley-Davidson, Creedence could only have been invented in America. This latest release is a deluxe set containing two CDs (and a bonus DVD), featuring 30 hit singles, meticulously re-mastered, many from their original mono masters (who knew?). There are even a few rarities thrown in. We won't list the songs here because most of you know them by heart. It's just plain unthinkable to take a road trip and not have Creedence playing, so do like the man says -don't leave home without it.
Flashback Release Of The Month
Darkness On the Edge of Tow
These days, there is perhaps no better body of work to re-acquaint yourselves with on a road trip than Darkness on the Edge of Town. Released three years after his seminal Born to Run, Darkness evidenced a changed Bruce Springsteen. Some of the innocence had been left behind on 10th Avenue and Bruce was now writing for, and about Everyman, about promises unfulfilled, and dreams denied. In "Prove it all Night" Bruce sings:
" Everybody's got a hunger, a hunger they can't resist,
There's so much that you want, you deserve much more than this..."
Redemption lay in the open road, on lost highways and in the parking lots of small towns. This is what makes a song like "Racing in the Street" easily one of the greatest car songs ever written:
"Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece,
Some guys come home and wash up
And go racin' in the street..."
Our escape is in our wheeled freedom, the notion that when you twist that key and start her up, the playing field is leveled. With unemployment currently at all-time highs and politicians of both parties pulling the rug out from under us, the songs on this album become increasingly and painfully relevant. They speak to the dignity of hard work, the sanctity of self reliance, and the undeniable belief in things and people that we hold dear. If you ride a motorcycle you'll understand.
He's back! Like many of us, Ian Hunter is no longer a young dude. The Mott The Hoople years are long gone, along with that flirtation with glam rock. Ian provides truth in Neil Young's line that "it's better to burn out than fade away". Not that Ian Hunter is about to do either. His defining anthem "Once Bitten Twice Shy" still sounds great, so it should be no surprise that this son of a British Intelligence worker, who is now 70 years young, still knows how to cut loose. On his latest album, Man Overboard, Hunter's voice sounds a little raspier these days, but in a pleasant sort of way (at least he's not recycling old R&B hits like Rod Stewart). It's obvious Hunter's lost none of his edgy mischief. "The Great Escape" is a great bar-fight of a song, juxtaposed against the slower yet equally brilliant stuff like "Arms & Legs," "Way With Words," and "River of Tears." It's a collective work that illustrates why Hunter remains a true rock icon who, while being perhaps a bit under-appreciated and recognized, isn't about to fade away.
Closer to The Bone
First and foremost as a songwriter, Kris Krisofferson is to country what Dylan is to folk. He advanced the concept of country & western music from the imagery of Pabst-Blue-Ribbon-swilling-crying-in-your-beer-redneck music to something with a little more, um, substance. Not to denigrate the Grand Ol' Opry stuff, which has its place, but back in the early '70s Kris brought a different style of writing to the table, all the while performing his other day job of acting. His words and music were more intellectually stimulating, and less rhyming the words "tears" and "beers." His classic "From the Bottle to the Bottom" may have been a drinkin' song, but it was a smart drinkin' song. That figures of course, since he holds a Masters in English Lit from Oxford. 2006's brilliant This Old Road was his first new album in 11 years. Closer to the Bone improves upon that release, giving us intimate, personal songs that reflect upon friends, life, loss, and love. It's produced by Don Was and features the legendary Jim Keltner on drums, keyboardist Rami Jaffee, and guitarist Stephen Bruton (who passed away after completing the album). Listening to this CD is like sippin' Jack Daniels. It's sparse and direct, and there's nothing slicked up here. Hearing Kristofferson's voice is like meeting up with an old friend again. You may have to crank it a bit if you have loud pipes, but heck, every once in a while you gotta stop and smell the whiskey.