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Creedence Clearwater Revival didn't think much of their set at Woodstock. Irritated by being pushed into the midnight slot by a series of misadventures they'd blame on the Grateful Dead, they wrote off their performance, not appearing in either the film or its accompanying soundtrack. Five decades later, they acknowledged the pull of history, consenting to having their set be part of Rhino's mammoth complete set Woodstock: Back To The Garden and also allowing it to be released by Craft Recordings.
Listening to the nine-song concert in either context, it's bewildering to think that this was dismissed by anybody involved with the band. Throughout their hour, CCR sounds ferocious, tearing through their hardest material, playing "Born on the Bayou," "Green River" and "Bootleg" with a nasty edge. The hardness of their choogle is a bit of a revelation, as the band sounds fiery in a way that they don't on any of the officially-released Creedence live recordings.
If CCR stuck to their hits, it'd be one thing, but the band gains momentum as their hour proceeds. Once they play an apocalyptic "I Put A Spell On You," they've set themselves up for a conclusion where they land on two mesmerizing ten-minute concluding jams. "Keep on Chooglin'" and "Suzie Q" stay mean through their long jams, leaving the question hanging: if this was Creedence Clearwater Revival on an average night, what on earth did they sound like on a great one?
Live at Woodstock is a 2019 live album slated for release on August 2, 2019 via Fantasy Records. The set documents swamp rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival's set at 1969's Woodstock.
Recording and release
Creedence Clearwater Revival was the first act to sign a contract for August's Woodstock festival in April 1969, for $10,000 (equivalent to $68,000 today). Given their late start time and omission from the Woodstock film (at John Fogerty's insistence), Creedence members have expressed bitterness over their experiences regarding the festival.
In 1994, "Commotion", "Green River", "Ninety Nine and a Half (Won't Do)", and "I Put a Spell on You" appeared on Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music and for the 40th anniversary home video release of the film, the band allowed the inclusion of "Born on the Bayou", "I've Put a Spell On You", and "Keep On Chooglin". This album also coincides with a 38-disc box set from Rhino Records compiling the entire festival, Woodstock – Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive.
When Creedence Clearwater Revival took to the stage at Woodstock, they were seven months into a year that will probably never be equalled. Bayou Country was released at the beginning of 1969, Green River had come out a couple of weeks earlier, and Willy And The Poor Boys would follow in December.
That's three classic albums in a 12 month stretch that spawned eight US hits, and Woodstock should have been the crowning glory. But John Fogerty, who'd claimed that his band were the best in the world in the build-up, wasn't happy with the show and pulled the band's performance from both the soundtrack and the film.
Fifty years on, it's difficult to fathom what his problem might have been. Apart from the occasional extended gap between songs and the sloppy start to the opening Born On The Bayou, it's Peak Choogle.
The recording is great, Fogerty's in fine voice throughout, the hits keep coming, and when the band slip into those chugging grooves they're emphatically fierce. I Put A Spell On You is even more ominous than the recorded version, and the 20 minutes given over to Keep On Chooglin' and Suzie Q as the set climaxes are flat-out intense.
01. "Born on the Bayou" – 05:34
02. "Green River" – 03:16
03. "Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)" (Steve Cropper, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett) – 04:46
04. "Bootleg" – 03:38
05. "Commotion" – 02:48
06. "Bad Moon Rising" – 02:13
07. "Proud Mary" – 03:52
08. "I Put a Spell on You" (Jay Hawkins and Herb Slotkin) – 04:28
09. "The Night Time Is the Right Time" (Lew Herman) – 03:30
10. "Keep on Chooglin’" – 10:29
11. "Suzie Q" (Eleanor Broadwater, Robert Chaisson, Dale Hawkins, and Stan Lewis) – 10:52