Creedence Clearwater Revival | At The Royal Albert Hall – Live Release Review

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From the few live recordings of Creedence Clearwater Revival, it’s easy to tell how tight they were on stage. Even though the group’s singer, guitarist and songwriter John Fogerty was less than pleased with CCR’s performance at Woodstock, the live disc released in 2019 captures a better-than-average, borderline epic set. As for their legendary 1970 show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which fans initially thought they were getting when they purchased The Concert LP back in 1980 — it’s officially on the market as not only a l2-track live album, but also as an expanded version with the soundtrack to the Travelin’ Band: Creedence Clearwater Revival At The Royal Albert Hall documentary film on Netflix, which traces the group’s history, their first trip to Europe, and is then topped off with footage of the Royal Albert Hall show. For any CCR fan worth his weight in swampland, At The Royal Albert Hall, in all its forms, is what you’ve been waiting on for over 50 years.

Recorded on April 14, 1970, the l2-track At The Royal Albert Hall lifts off quickly with a rock-steady version of “Born On The Bayou.” There’s little deviation from the studio versions of the songs, but the kinetic energy coming from Fogerty, his older brother Tom on rhythm guitar, Doug Clifford on drums, and Stu Cook on bass in front of an audience is palpable. Like the Beatles — whom CCR were, at the time, in line to unseat from their throne as the world’s biggest band — the original quartet had spent years refining their chemistry to the point of it becoming pure, unique and organic. Listen to ‘Travelin’ Band” and “Commotion,” and you immediately see how in sync and essential to the song each musician is. Fogerty may have written and sang the songs, but he needed the other three to bring them to life.

Of course, “Fortunate Son,” “Proud Mary,” and “Bad Moon Rising” are prime examples of the craftsmanship put into each tune.  Most of the songs are under three minutes with the exception of “Born On The Bayou” and the show-stopping finale, “Keep on Chugglin’,“ which gets an eight-minute workout. One can only imagine how other longer numbers like “Ramble Tamble” and “I Heard It From The Grapevine” would have fared on stage. Clearly, CCR was more about pumping out singles and holding the Top 40 than they were about meandering off into the long, freeform jams of their Bay Area peers. At the end of the day, you have to admit that At The Royal Albert Hall is the quintessential Creedence Clearwater Revival live album recorded when the band was at its peak and ready to rule the world.

~ Shawn Perry


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