28 September 2007

Exile on Green River

It's a stark reality in the white blues/rock world that, if you wanna add your voice to those of the greats, you gotta make an album as gritty and awe-inspiring as the unparalleled blues/rock achievement of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street (note: it's greatness owes a lot to a number of uncredited contributors -- Dr. John first among them for his horn arrangements generally and masterful piano on Let it Loose).

When U2's Rattle and Hum (album and film) came out, certain reviewers got my inner circle discussing the question "[W]as Rattle and Hum U2's Exile on Main Street? Of course, we were trying to judge way too soon, and got it wrong. Great as it is, Rattle and Hum is no Exile on Main Street.

It takes decades, at least, to evaluate an album's place in rock history. So let me try this one again. In 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival ("CCR") released a trilogy of superb albums:

Bayou Country
(released January 1969)

Green River
(released August 1969)

Willy and the Poor Boys
(released November 1969)

I would argue that this diverse, written-mostly-while-touring trilogy is CCR's Exile on Main Street. The radio domination of the albums' singles such as "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising" tell only part of the story. Green River contains some of the best Cosmic American Music Grams Parsons didn't make, two examples, Lodi and Wrote a Song for Everyone. And if you don't think John Fogerty and the boys can reach the black delta mud of serious blues/rock, served straight up, then check out Green River's deep album tracks.

I will save discussion of the other two '69 CCR albums for another time. Come on mate (or Sheila), what do you say, whatcha think?

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