Top Artists – Creedence Clearwater Revival

CCR – Why Would Anyone Want to Take All the Fun Out of Their Music?

More of the Music of Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sonic Grade: F

The last time I played the MoFi pressing mentioned below I found the sound so weirdly colored as to defy understanding. Ten years ago when I wrote the commentary below I apparently found it more tolerable.

More recently I obviously did not. When an audiophile record sounds worse than it used to, there is a very good chance that you have made some Progress in Audio.

Of course this is not something to be assumed. (Speaking of assumptions, you can find more on the subject here).

Rather it is something to be tested. (You can read more about some of the rigorous and extensive record testing we have conducted over the last twenty years here.)

Even if 99 times out of a hundred it turns out to be the case that the modern remastered record can now be seen for the fake it always was, there is still a one out of a hundred chance that the record may in fact be better than you remember.

These audiophile records are easily called out for their illusory superiority for the simple reason that the better your stereo gets, the more obvious their colorations and shortcomings become. This was my experience, and I pass this information on in the hopes that you will make progress with your stereo system and find them every bit as wrong as I did.

We’ve created a section for the worst of them, and even with 266 entries we could easily double that number if we were inclined to audition more of them and catalog their shortcomings.

With the number of Heavy Vinyl records being pressed today, triple or quadruple that number I suspect would be doable. Thank god we are in the business of selling good records and not in the business of reviewing bad ones.

Analogue Productions 

As for the AP pressing discussed below, the last time I played one it had all the bad qualities of the Bonnie Raitt disc on DCC that I’ve grown to dislike so much. But what the new AP version really gets wrong is the guitar sound. Creedence’s music lives or dies by its guitar sound, and the AP pressing is as dead as they come.

The fat, smeary, overly-smooth guitars you hear on the record, lacking any semblance of the grungy energy that are the true hallmarks of this band’s recordings, mean that some audiophile mastering engineer got hold of the tapes and tried to “fix” what he didn’t like about the sound.

You know, the sound that is all over the radio to this very day. Something was apparently wrong with it. So now that it’s been fixed, everything that’s good about CCR’s recordings is missing, and everything that has replaced those sonic elements has made the sound worse.

Nice job! Keep up the good work. Chad is proud of ya, no doubt about it.

Our old commentary follows, some of which we obviously no longer agree with:

Years ago a customer sent me his copy of the Analogue Productions LP (mastered by Hoffman and Gray) in order to carry out a little shootout I had planned among the five copies I could pull together: two MoFi’s, the Fantasy ORC reissue, a blue label original, the AP, and another reissue. 

Let’s just say there were no real winners, but there sure were some losers.

My take on the Hoffman version is simply this: it has virtually no trace of TUBEY ANALOG MAGIC. None to speak of anyway.

It sounds like a clean, tonally correct but fairly bass-shy CD. No pressing I played managed to be so tonally correct and so boring at the same time. The MoFi has plenty of weird EQ colorations, the kind that bug the hell out of me on 98% of their crappy catalog, but at least it sounds like analog. It’s warm, rich and sweet. The AP copy has none of those qualities.

More pointless 180g sound, to my ear anyway. I couldn’t sit through it with a gun to my head.

You would need a LOT of vintage tubes in your system to get the AP record to sound right, and then everything else in your collection would sound worse.


FURTHER READING

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

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  • The sound is present and punchy, with plenty of bass, grungy guitars that jump out of the speakers, and the kind of swamp rock energy that no audiophile record on the planet can claim
  • So many great songs: Run Through the Jungle, Lookin’ Out My Back Door, Who’ll Stop the Rain, etc.
  • A 5 star album and arguably the best record the band ever made: “…an album made during stress and chaos, filled with raging rockers, covers, and intense jams.
  • If you’re a CCR fan, this masterwork from 1970 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

In 2015 we achieved a major breakthrough for some of CCR’s albums, especially this one. With improved cleaning technologies and continued playback improvements, we’re finding that the right copies of Cosmo’s are sounding better with every shootout.

Note that the Hoffman reissues and the MoFi pressing sound nothing like the Creedence records we all grew up with, and records that sound that small, lifeless, boring or just plain wrong can’t really be what audiophiles want, can they?

Judging by the robust sales of those ridiculously lame LPs, I’m sorry to say they can.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River

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  • An essential, Must Own for every Classic Rock collection, this LP includes some of the band’s biggest hits: Green River and Bad Moon Rising, Lodi, Wrote a Song for Everyone and plenty more
  • 5 stars “If anything, CCR’s third album Green River represents the full flower of their classic sound initially essayed on its predecessor, Bayou Country. One of the differences between the two albums is that Green River is tighter, with none of the five-minute-plus jams that filled out both their debut and Bayou Country, but the true key to its success is a peak in John Fogerty’s creativity.”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Self-Titled

  • Wow – Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish for the band’s debut and vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, solid, dynamic, with the neutral tonality completely missing from the current spate of reissues
  • Featuring classics such as I Put a Spell on You, the extended-length jam Susie Q (8:37, perfect for Underground Radio), The Working Man, Porterville and more
  • 4 stars: “CCR’s self-titled debut album was gloriously out-of-step with the times, teeming with John Fogerty’s Americana fascinations. … the band’s sound is vibrant, with gutsy arrangements that borrow equally from Sun, Stax, and the swamp.”

It’s unlikely you will be demonstrating your system with this record, but you may find yourself enjoying the hell out of it for what it is — an early example of Roots Rock that still holds up today.

This is an album that’s nearly impossible to find with excellent sound and clean surfaces. This is one of the best copies we’ve managed to come across. (more…)

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum

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  • This Fantasy stereo pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Bigger and bolder, with more bass, more energy, and more of that “you-are-there-immediacy” of ANALOG that set the best vintage pressings apart from reissues, CDs, and whatever else you care to name
  • 4 stars: “John Fogerty spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground — Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side.”

This copy will surely beat any pressing you put it up against. This will be especially true if you put it up against the Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl from years back, which will sound thick, opaque, airless and congested next to a properly mastered Fantasy pressing (deep groove or otherwise) such as this one. (more…)

John Fogerty – Centerfield

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  • KILLER sound throughout with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than others you’ve heard can offer, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • “… a clutch of terrific songs: that giddy ode to his beloved game, the equally sunny rocker “Rock and Roll Girls,” the snappy Sun tribute “Big Train from Memphis,” the gently swaying “I Saw It on TV,” the rip-roaring “I Can’t Help Myself” and, of course, “The Old Man Down the Road,” a callback to CCR’s spooky swamp rock… a cheerful, glorious comeback.” – All Music

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys

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  • Both sides earned Triple Plus (A+++) grades, a huge step up over every other copy in our shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Whatever you do, don’t waste your money on the awful Heavy Vinyl remasters of CCR’s albums that Acoustic Sounds commissioned – they are so wrong it will make your head ache
  • Features Down On The Corner, Fortunate Son, Midnight Special and more
  • 5 stars: “[A] fun record, perhaps the breeziest album CCR ever made. Fogerty’s rage remains, blazing to the forefront on “Fortunate Son,” a working-class protest song that cuts harder than any of the explicit Vietnam protest songs of the era, one of the reasons that it hasn’t aged where its peers have. Also, there’s that unbridled vocal from Fogerty and the ferocious playing on CCR…”

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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This is the first White Hot Stamper copy of Bayou Country to ever hit the site. We were shocked at how good this one sounds — on both sides — compared to the copies we’ve heard over the years. It is TOUGH to find a pressing of this album that didn’t turn out bright and edgy, but here’s one that was worth the headache of playing a ton of mediocre copies. Seriously, we played a huge stack of these and most had us running for cover.

Man, 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 sound as if they were recorded via telephone, but every copy we played had an edgy quality to Fogerty’s voice. On some copies the edge is bad enough to render the copy completely worthless sonically. Who can sit and listen to a record that makes you cringe every time the singer says anything? Not us.

Furthermore, most copies are badly congested and far from transparent. After dropping the needle on the first few copies and hearing the muddy music and gritty vocals we nearly gave up, but I’m glad we stuck to it long enough to find a few copies that did a good job conveying this classic music. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “…it was like there was a blanket taken off the speakers.”

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

Just some comments on the records purchased in July. Some of these records were a night and day experience for me. I bought ten years after a space in time and nilsson son of shmilsson from the columbia record club back in the early seventies. I’ve taken good care of them and thought they sounded very good so I didn’t need to upgrade. You mentioned that we’ve never heard these records sound like this, so I thought I’d take a chance. WOW! Space in time, son of schmillson, eat a peach it was like there was a blanket taken off the speakers. Everything sounded sooo much better, more involving, the sound jumped out at me. And not that in your face shrill run for the volume control sound which was so prevalent in the late 80’s and into the 90’s. 

CCR cosmo’s factory, I’ve got an original mofi copy which sounded really good ( I must have lucked out, 90% of the mofi’s I bought didn’t have a problem with sibilance. The ones that did have that problem and the dead as a doorknob presentation, anadisc 200 are all gone.)

The super hot stamper of Cosmos factory on side 1 completely smoked the mofi, side 2 they were comparable. The super hot stamper had more depth to it you could hear into the recording making the experience more lifelike.

Thanks, Shane

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

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Bayou Country

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  • 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. (more…)