- A KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) copy – you won’t find better sound for this band on vinyl
- Proud Mary and Good Golly Miss Molly are absolute MONSTERS on this early pressing – you will be floored
- Our pick for the best sounding CCR recording – when you have a copy that sounds like this one, and, trust me, a copy as good sounding as this one is tough to find
- 4 1/2 stars: “All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.”
It’s beyond tough to find copies that aren’t bright, gritty, grainy or edgy — that’s how most Creedence records sound I’m afraid — but here’s a Bayou Country that’s fairly smooth, exceptionally lively, mostly transparent and just plain rockin’ enough to make your day.
The sound is big and open with real weight to the bottom. The top end has much more natural extension than most, and much less of the harshly brightened up upper midrange you might be familiar with.
Both sides were Tubey Magical with surprising resolution and freedom from smear, easily heard on the clean, clear and present guitar transients.
On side two you can even pick out the piano in Good Golly Miss Molly, which is hardly even audible on most pressings.
The Best in Swamp Rock
What the best sides of this CCR Classic have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1969
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the horns, guitars, drums and percussion having the correct sound for this kind of record
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Tough Sledding with Bayou Country
The average copy of this album is an unmitigated disaster. Let’s start with the vocals. I’m not sure who’s idea it was to have John Fogerty’s vocals processed to sound like an old Johnny Cash album, but every copy we played had at least a slightly edgy quality to Fogerty’s voice just the way The Man In Black’s do. On some copies the edge is bad enough to render the copy completely worthless sonically.
Furthermore, most copies are badly congested and not remotely transparent. Years ago, after dropping the needle on the first few copies and hearing the muddy music and gritty vocals, we were sorely tempted to give up. I’m glad to say we stuck with it long enough to find the few copies that could do the job of conveying the energy and joy of this classic of Swamp Rock.
Keep On Chooglin’
After playing a handful of copies we started to identify which specific qualities we would need to look for in a Hot Stamper. It was only then that we decided to take John Fogerty’s advice and, uh, keep on chooglin’. We realized that the vocals were never going to sound amazing, but they certainly don’t need to sound blatantly irritating either.
We soon realized that even though Living Stereo spaciousness and transparency was never going to be in the cards, on the better copies you can actually pick out the musicians in the studio and make sense of their contributions.
And while you’re just not going to get Dark Side of the Moon bass from this album, there are certainly copies that offer much better definition to the bottom than others. And in the end, that’s exactly what we managed to do. It wasn’t easy, and you won’t be using this record to demo your stereo, but if you love this music as much as we do then we imagine you’ll have a great time being able to hear Bayou Country sound as good as it does here.
What We’re Listening For on Creedence’s Classics
Less grit – smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on Bayou Country.
A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way the engineers wanted it to.
Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.
Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
Not only is it hard to find great copies of this album, it ain’t easy to play ’em either. You’re going to need a hi-res, super low distortion front end with careful adjustment of your arm in every area — VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate — in order to play this album properly. If you’ve got the goods you’re gonna love the way this copy sounds. Play it with a budget cart / table / arm and you’re likely to hear a great deal less magic than we did.
Born on the Bayou
Good Golly Miss Molly
Keep on Chooglin’
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
Opening slowly with the dark, swampy “Born on the Bayou,” Bayou Country reveals an assured Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that has found its voice between their first and second album… “Born on the Bayou” is a magnificent piece of swamp-rock, “Penthouse Pauper” is a first-rate rocker with the angry undertow apparent on “Porterville” and “Bootleg” is a minor masterpiece, thanks to its tough acoustic foundation, sterling guitar work, and clever story.
All the songs add up to a superb statement of purpose, a record that captures Creedence Clearwater Revival’s muscular, spare, deceptively simple sound as an evocative portrait of America.
If you own any of the recently released heavy vinyl pressings of CCR’s albums mastered by SH and KG, hearing this Hot Stamper pressing will surely be a revelation.
We were never big fans of those recuts from the early 2000s, but back in those days we thought they were tolerable. We have much better reproduction (equipment, room, tweaks, electrical quality) these days than we did then, and now we can’t stand them. They bore us to tears and, worse, they sound fundamentally wrong to us now.
Head to head in a shootout, our Hot Stampers will be dramatically more lively, transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings badly fall short. Those looking for a list of specific shortcomings can easily find reviews and commentaries for hundreds of titles on the site, but here is a good place to start:
DCC + RTI = Audio Enervation
As is the case with practically every record pressed on Heavy Vinyl over the last twenty years, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a glaring, unpleasant sterility to the sound. Modern remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing. Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a bad case of audio enervation. Where is the life of the music? You can turn up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want, they simply refuse to come to life. They’re missing too much of the space, dynamic and rhythmic energy, immediacy and transparency that we’ve discovered on the best original pressings.