Yeah, you know ‘em. John Fogerty and company. The men that shaped the southern bayou swamp sound for mass consumption, but not in a contrived, overdone fashion. Seeing as how I’ve been replaying their “Greatest Hits” record nonstop for the past few days, it was only appropriate to share my musical forays with Alibi Music and Managing Editor Samantha Anne Carrillo, who informed me that this is the Second Annual Year of CCR. Is this made up? Probably, but who cares?! It’s Creedence, man! (Editor’s note: I made this up, but it’s a damn fine idea, right?) This is a band that came to prominence in the late-’60s, when rock and roll was taking multiple turns toward the psychedelic—leaving little in the way of rootsy rhythms—but CCR was there to deliver it, and they did so with a gusto and magic that is rarely seen in bands playing today.
Listening to “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” or “Bad Moon Rising” still evokes feelings of nostalgia—the kind that exists from knowing music that once made a mark still has the ability to break on through, so to speak. “Up Around the Bend” is still one of my favorite road trip songs. Have you heard that opening guitar riff? If you’re not a fan or (God forbid!) you’ve never heard of Creedence Clearwater Revival, do yourself a favor and pick up a cassette/LP/CD or head over to YouTube for some good ol’ concert footage and get crackin’. At least this way you’ll be ready for the Third Annual Year of CCR ... and yes, it’s coming.
Muni Kulasinghe’s howling vocals, his violin skittering across the music like beads of water on a hot skillet. John Sandlin’s ax felling bar after bar of music with ferocious dexterity. Jared Putnam’s slaphappy bass and slyly sweet vocals. Drummer Fernando Garavito’s irresistibly low-down grooves. It’s all here on six covers the group has perfected over the last few years on the bandstand. The many high points include the churchy baroque intro to “House of the Rising Sun,” which then descends into fevered desperation, Sandlin’s solo on “Belleville Rendez-Vous” drunkenly dancing across a fence top, and the deliriously locked-in groove between Putnam and Garavito on “Minnie the Moocher.” “Frère Jacques,” “Straight Up” and “La Mer” round out the collection, each with its own ear-opening moments of inspired lunacy. While paying close attention to every tiny detail—the dabs of echo on “Jacques,” the perfectly timed cat’s yowl on “Belleville”—Le Chat plays with a demonic abandon that makes you suspect they’re having even more fun that we are. (MM) CD release on Saturday, Dec. 5 at El Rey Theater!
Matt Wilson is a beautifully melodic drummer, composer and, truth be told, vaudevillian and activist. With Andrew D’Angelo (alto sax, bass clarinet), Jeff Lederer (tenor and soprano sax, clarinet) and Chris Lightcap (bass), he presents a theatrically charming and challenging collection of nine originals and two covers. They’re all rooted in black American songbooks: spirituals to bebop to R&B to funk to hard bop. There’s free blowing on the title track, poignancy in “Getting Friendly” and funky uplift in War’s anthemic “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”. The beautifully recorded quartet just nails it all, as Wilson can be heard proclaiming at one point.