Considering how many classics they cranked out during their career, it’s kind of amazing that Creedence Clearwater Revival only recorded music together for five years. Between 1967 and 1972, CCR released one hit after another – “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Down on the Corner” – that are still among the era’s most recognized and frequently played songs.
“That was quite a rocket ride,” said the band’s original bassist Stu Cook of their career peak. “Things were happening extremely fast, so fast, in fact, that we really didn’t have a chance to appreciate it.”
Cook is a founding member of Creedence Clearwater Revisited, a tried-and-true nostalgia act that specializes in impeccable covers of CCR’s best-known songs. Along with Cook, the lineup includes CCR drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford, so you’re hearing the classics as performed by one of rock’s most famous rhythm sections.
“This time around, we appreciate it and enjoy it all, right down to every note and every beat,” Cook said. “We’re not getting any younger, so this is a good time to really go for the gusto.”
There was a long period when you couldn’t hear any CCR outside classic rock radio or a dive bar cover band. After the original group split in ’72, their catalogue was tangled up in legal battles, and it wasn’t until the late ’80s that John Fogerty, the band’s lead singer and primary songwriter, publicly played any of his most iconic songs again.
Revisited formed in 1995 shortly following Revival’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – both Cook and Clifford were actually barred from performing at the ceremony – and they’ve been touring nonstop ever since. Cook says the point of Creedence Clearwater Revisited, beyond entertaining audiences, is to respect the music, and the band plays the songs exactly as they appeared on those old recordings.
“Basically, we’re staying out of the way of the music,” he said. “We’re purists ourselves when it comes to our job, and that’s to make sure we celebrate and honor this music, because we do know how many people enjoy it. In some cases, it might be very important to them. … We’re not out there trying to play it differently. We try to honor it as it was recorded.”
With two of the four founding members, Creedence Clearwater Revisited is about the closest thing you can get to the real CCR. A genuine reunion isn’t possible, as original rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty died in 1990, but Cook said there are still those who are skeptical of the group’s legitimacy without the full CCR lineup. His response to the dissenters: Get over it.
“As it’s not the complete lineup of the original band, people always have a doubt, I guess,” he said. “But you can’t be too concerned with the lineup of a band in the bigger scheme of things. The bottom line is, ‘Can these guys do it or not?’ I’m sure they’re thinking that, or something along those lines. And after a few songs, that answer’s there.
“This is our 20th year of playing. If we weren’t getting the job done, I don’t think we’d still be here talking about it.”