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Archive for November 13th, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Ultimate CCR: Greatest Hits and All-Time Classics”

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Did John Fogerty write “Proud Mary,” or did it come to the Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman by some kind of divine inspiration?  After all, the modern folk song has become such a part of the American cultural tapestry that it’s hard to believe the song’s origins were so, well, ordinary: Fogerty cobbled together a spontaneously-improvised riff at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom with lyrics inspired by diverse sources and experiences to create the song that anchored the band’s sophomore album and became a No. 2 hit single.  Since that original version, it’s been recorded or performed by artists running the gamut.  Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Neil Sedaka, Solomon Burke, Ed Ames, Leonard Nimoy and even The Chipettes (!) have all brought something to the tune about the guy who hitched a ride on a “riverboat queen.”  And that’s not even mentioning the transformative rendition by Ike and Tina Turner, who worked the chooglin’, laid-back rhythm into a high-energy frenzy as only they could have done, complete with Tina’s unique choreography.  Yes, like Proud Mary herself, the big wheel of Creedence Clearwater Revival has kept on turnin’, kept on burnin’, still rollin’ on that immortal river.

Yet John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook have hardly been in harmony since the band’s acrimonious split in October, 1972 after a brief run that began under the Creedence name in 1967.  (The four members had actually played together since the early part of the decade.)  A true reunion, of course, is precluded by Tom’s death in 1990, and even a recent and tentative (and well-publicized) extension of the olive branch by John has been spurned by Clifford and Cook.  Yet forty years after the break-up, the music that quartet created together remains a spellbinding, beguiling brew of swamp rock, funk, blues, folk and R&B.  52 such examples have just been compiled by Fantasy Records, the group’s original label now part of the Concord Music Group umbrella, as Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival: Greatest Hits and All-Time Classics (Fantasy FAN-34162, 2012).

When a group only has a limited amount of material such as CCR’s seven albums, the challenge over time becomes to repackage that small treasure trove in new formats and editions.  Sometimes the result is a retread and frustrating to longtime fans; other times, a compilation becomes an illuminating look back.  As for CCR, the band’s entire catalogue has been remastered numerous times (including most recently in anniversary editions with bonus tracks) and has even been collected in a “complete” box set.  So Ultimate CCR, then, is likely aimed at those who don’t already own the individual albums and aren’t interested in a pricey box set, but want more than a single-disc comp (a number of which are already available).  This companion of sorts to 2009’s excellent The Singles Collection succeeds, then, in distilling the essence of the group both onstage and in the studio in a budget-priced 3-CD set released just in time for the holiday season.  There’s no unheard material, alas.  But what’s here is well-curated, with the overall package a well-designed one.

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Written by Joe Marchese

November 13, 2012 at 10:34


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Written by Joe Marchese

November 13, 2012 at 10:15

Release Round-Up: Week of November 13

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The Beatles, Stereo Vinyl Box Set (Capitol/EMI)

The Fab Four’s 2009 stereo remasters have been painstakingly pressed on vinyl. The whole box set will set you back considerably, but you can get the ones you want on their own (and, if you’re in New York City or Los Angeles, can do so through the roving pop-up shop/double-decker buses that’ll be cruising each city). (Vinyl box: Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.)

The Rolling Stones, GRRR! (Rolling Stones/UMe)

The Stones’ 50th anniversary is commemorated with this multi-format compilation, featuring all their hits, two new tracks and, in some cases, some tunes from the vault:

Elvis Presley, Prince from Another Planet / Elvis: As Recorded At Madison Square Garden – Legacy Edition (RCA/Legacy)

Elvis’ two triumphant MSG shows in the summer of 1972 (the latter released as Elvis: As Recorded At Madison Square Garden a week after the shows and the former released as An Afternoon in the Garden in 1997) have been remixed and paired up as a Legacy Edition (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.), or as a deluxe 2CD/1DVD box set (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) featuring rare footage of the afternoon show as well as the King’s press conference in the Big Apple. (Elvis: As Recorded At Madison Square Garden is also getting a double-vinyl reissue, available at Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K.)

Marvin Gaye, Trouble Man: 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition (Hip-O Select/Motown)

Marvin’s underrated film soundtrack album – the last of his ’70s albums to get the deluxe treatment – is expanded with session outtakes, and for the first time, the original film score as heard in the Trouble Man film, meticulously recreated from the original tapes. (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.)

Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You: The Very Best of Whitney Houston (Arista/RCA)

The dearly departed diva is paid tribute through this new single-disc overview of her career, featuring two unreleased tracks. The U.K. edition is two discs, just with more hits and album cuts. (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.)

Mel Brooks, The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy (Shout! Factory)

A five-DVD/one-CD box set treasury from one of the undisputed kings of comedy. (Amazon U.S.)

Sonic Youth, Smart Bar Chicago 1985 (Goofin’)

An unreleased live show from the Sonic Youth archives, on CD (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) or vinyl (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.).

Various Artists, A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand (Amazon U.S. Blu-Ray / Amazon U.S. DVD)

The legendary chanteuse is celebrated by the likes of Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow, Jeff Beck and Leona Lewis on this new DVD/BD release.

Original London Cast Recording, Cabaret (Sony Masterworks) (Amazon U.S. MP3)

Judi Dench, currently on the big screen as M in James Bond blockbuster Skyfall, made a splash in the West End as London’s original Sally Bowles in Cabaret!  The long-OOP cast recording returns digitally and as a disc-on-demand from Masterworks Broadway.

Percy Faith, The Complete Music of Christmas (Real Gone) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Real Gone revisits the lush orchestral stylings of Percy Faith with this 2-CD set dedicated to some of the bandleader’s greatest holiday music.

Shoes, One in Versailles (U.S./U.K.) Bazooka (U.S./U.K.) / Black Vinyl Shoes (U.S./U.K.) Present Tense Demos (U.S./U.K.) (Numero)

Power-pop group Shoes see vinyl reissues of four of their albums.

The B-52’s, Cosmic Thing / Bob Dylan and The Band, The Basement Tapes (Mobile Fidelity)

The B-52’s pop crossover album (on vinyl – Amazon U.S./U.K.) and The Bard’s highly sought-after collaboration with The Band (on hybrid SACD – Amazon U.S./U.K.) are the latest hi-def offerings from Mobile Fidelity.

Rebbie Jackson, Reaction: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.) / Champaign, Modern Heart/Woman in Flames (U.S./U.K.) / Black Ivory, Black Ivory/Hangin’ Heavy (U.S./U.K.) / Kashif, Condition of the Heart: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.) / Love Changes: Expanded Edition (U.S./U.K.) (Funkytowngrooves)

Lana Del Rey, Born to Die: The Paradise Edition (Interscope)

Yes, her. LDR’s major-label debut with a disc of new material (Amazon U.S./U.K.), also available separately (U.S.).