Mountain Sprout (from the album Refried, Best O’ the Beans) - The steady shuffling, shifty stories of Mountain Sprout might lead you to believe that the guys are not highly-responsible multi-taskers. The band shows that they can handle several things at once as they balance personal resumes and a political stance, taking care and consideration for each statement on “Screw the Govt”. The track is alongside an accounting of the finest- to-date Mountain Sprout tunes, all stacked together on Refried, Best O the Beans. Mountain Sprout rush the rhythms of “Shittin’ in the Woods”, double the beat to pound the environmental message “Into the Sun”, mine scientific depths, seeking answers in “Blue Marble”, and proudly sing of the “Little Bird” chirping in their collective souls. As much as the playing constantly offers surprises, the song titles of Refried leave nothing to the imagination. 

A fast track strum and runaway banjo/fiddle combo propel “Marijuana” into life as Mountain Sprout tell the sad tale of “Dry Counties”, swear off the stuff in “Hangover” as “Habits to Feed” laundry lists life’s little helpers.  Refried, Best O the Beans takes a shot at “Turkey Buzzard” with a high-speed beat, stops to “Smell the Daisies” on a sunny afternoon, and tightly pulls the strings on “It Don't Matter” until it explodes in rhythm. Mountain Sprout take a moment to offer some of the salvation they found in their back pockets as the band welcomes you into the “Whiskey Church of Green Bud”.

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Cash Box Kings (from the album Black Toppin') - The Cash Box Kings get very specific in the music that they bring to the world. The band is dedicated to carrying on the spirit of the 1940’s and 50’s post-war Chicago Blues as well as honoring its point of origins, Delta Blues circa 1920’s and 30’s. Luckily, the Cash Box Kings are not content to just offer museum quality replications. The band provides a freshness to their music by adding in energy and bravado to songs that can trace their own heritage back to the heydays of the Chess Records and Sun Records labels.

Sitting amid a few cover tunes, the Cash Box Kings toss in a healthy dose of band originals on Black Toppin’ that stretch out to cover more of the Delta sound, such as Jump Blues and Louisiana swamp Blues. Co-vocalists Joe Nosek and Oscar Wilson trade off microphone turns and songwriting. Oscar Wilson hops in the band car to describe heading out on the highway to ride some white lines on the title track and delivers a love letter straight from his lovin’ oven with “Hot Biscuit Baby”. Joe Nosek divides time between lead vocals and some mighty harmonica blowing. Joe’s turns at the microphone underscore the band’s signature sound style, ‘blues-a-billy’. His country twang steers across a musical landscape strewn with past relationships, sharing breathing space on the track with fat sax riffs and an ever-present flurry of guitar notes on “Trying Really Hard (to Try and Get Along With You)”.

A mean saxophone takes the lead on the Oscar Wilson-penned “Oscar’s Jump”, the rhythm unites with the harmonica to double its force on “My Tinai”, and country guitar plays tag with the barrelhouse piano on “I Don’t Want to Fight”. The Cash Box Kings step into tradition with their cover of “Walking Blues”, bounce out their version of Willie Dixon’s “Too Late” and fuel up with some high test  for a cover of Velvet Underground’s “Run Run Run”, starting up the motor and cranking it out. Black Toppin’ continues the personal that the Cash Box Kings began on their Blind Pig debut “Holler and Stomp”, and makes the world a better place by honoring the sound of Chicago jukeboxes.                      DANNY McCLOSKEY/RA

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gracie curran and the high falutin band

Gracie Curran and the High Falutin' Band (from the album Proof of Love) - Can I get an AMEN? Gracie Curran and her mates, The High Falutin' Band have been touring around New England and up and down the East Coast for a couple years now. They've shared the limelight with some notable luminaries including Shemekia Copeland,Toni Lynn Washington and Sugar Blue and took home the prize as Boston's Best Blues Band in 2012.

Their debut album, Proof of Love, tears open your chest and breathes into your soul with a baptism of raw power and emotion. A five-alarm stew of blues, gospel and soul that burns in your gut like the first time you heard Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man." Pass the cool water, please. (Bill Hurley)

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creedence clearwater revival in the alternate root

 

 

 

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Ultimate Hits

Right now, with the words below, you could be reading about a band called Muddy Rabbit, Gossamer Wump, and Creedence Nuball and the Ruby. The Golliwogs never really liked the name that Fantasy Records had given them when they inked a record deal in 1964. When the label changed hands in 1967 the new owner Saul Zaentz wanted a full length album but needed a name change. The band agreed and though the possible monikers listed above were contenders, the name that landed on the album cover was Creedence Clearwater Revival. The new band title became a part of our culture via radio play and chart success throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s. Fantasy Records has released a three disc set corralling the band’s hits and live performances with Ultimate, Greatest Hits and All Time Classics. The album reminds long-time listeners of the group’s glory days and provides newbies a taste of classic songs that are a part of musical history.

Three of the four core members, John Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, met in Portola Junior High in El Cerrito, California. Performing as a trio and backing John’s older brother Tom, the band played out and released a cover of “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” upon signing with Fantasy Records, a San Francisco Bay Area jazz label. In 1966, band members John and Stu were drafted, both getting full enlistments transferred to reserve status. Their military stints came to an end in 1968 and the newly renamed Creedence Clearwater Revival began a heavy schedule of rehearsing and playing out in local Bay Area clubs.

The band name was a hybrid of three pieces. The name Creedence came from a friend of Tom Fogerty, Credence Newball, Clearwater was snagged from a TV commercial for the west coast brew Olympia Beer and Revival was used to illustrate the group’s rebirth commitment to the group. “Suzie Q”, a re-make of the rockabilly artist Dale Hawkins’ 1956 hit, broke the band nationally after heavy airplay from the SF Bay Area and on Chicago AM stalwart WLS. The first album effort yielded two other radio tracks, a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell on You” and “Porterville”, though neither track achieved the first single’s national Top 40 status. Creedence were not chart toppers with their first full album release but the band was definitely on the map.

Success landed on Creedence Clearwater Revival with their second album release, Bayou Country. With a January 1969 release, the record reached platinum glory, making the climb to Number 7 on the charts and giving the world John Fogerty’s most covered tune, “Proud Mary”, the most famous version being delivered by Ike and Tina Turner in 1971. Bob Dylan named “Proud Mary” his favorite single of 1969. Joining the track on the Pop charts was “Bad Moon Rising”, both cuts stopping short of the top at Number 2 positions.  CCR’s third album, Green River, hit the streets in August of 1969 with the title track matching the Number 2 success of earlier hits. “Prolific” barely covers the Creedence output in the 1969 surge. Rounding the number to three for the year, the group released Willy and The Poor Boys in November of 1969 with album cuts “Down on the Corner” and “Fortunate Son” continuing their hit radio success.

Outside of the Top 40, Creedence Clearwater Revival became a staple of the new kid radio format, Underground Radio on the FM side of the dial. Tracks from both 1969 releases such as “Lodi”, “Night Time Is the Right Time”, “Born on the Bayou”, “Midnight Special”, “Commotion” and the nine-minute long, one chord driven “Keep on Chooglin’” were expanding on the band’s popularity. CCR topped The Beatles in 1969 in single sales.

Hotels rooms were home for Creedence in the late 60’s and early 70’s and amid the constant stops at clubs, the band headlined two festivals that brought the underground sound into the mainstream, Atlanta Pop Festival and Woodstock. John Fogerty thought the Woodstock performance was below standard, so nothing from the band was included in the film or soundtrack. Bassist Stu Cook is still surprised, “"The performances are classic CCR and I'm still amazed by the number of people who don't even know we were one of the headliners at Woodstock '69."

To celebrate the new year, Creedence released the two-sided hit single “Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop the Rain”. The fast paced “Travelin’ Band” got into legal trouble when the rights owners of “Good Golly Miss Molly” sued due to too many similarities. “Up Around the Bend” and “Run Through the Jungle” were written and quickly released in anticipation of the group’s first European tour in April, 1970. The band went back into the studio in June of 1970 to record what is considered their finest album, Cosmo’s Factory, with that year’s single releases included on the vinyl. The album also included their fifth, and final, Number 2 listing with “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”. Though their success is legendary, Creedence never topped the Pop charts at Number 1.

The recordingofCosmo’s Factory, which included among its Pop hits an eleven minute version of “Heard It Through the Grapevine” saw the rise of inner tension rising from the four band members due to grueling touring and release schedules. John Fogerty put an end to a democracy for Creedence and Tom, Stu and Doug felt their voices were no longer heard. John was in charge of songwriting and business decisions, furthering control by implementing a ‘no encore’ policy in 1970. Tom Fogerty left during the recording of Pendulum and Creedence Clearwater Revival officially disbanded in October of 1972.

Music history has long included John Fogerty and the how’s and why’s of his decisions, resentments and views of both Creedence and Fantasy Records, particularly about label head Saul Zaentz. Their last studio release, Mardi Gras, showed CCR the exit on a low note. Politics have become part myth with a few facts thrown in, all related as hindsight, which is often cloudy. Like many great acts, their music has never left the building and the rock solid foundation that it has in the culture tends to lessen both the impact and sheer genius of the songwriting of John Fogerty.

The cultural stance that John Fogerty took in his songs is sometimes missed by their bright and sunny Pop base. John Fogerty’s knack of incorporating world views into his songs is nothing short of brilliant. “Who’ll Stop the Rain”, as a commentary, takes direct aim at nuclear bombs; “Fortunate Son” is a thinly veiled attack on the have’s from the have-not’s, and “Up Around the Bend” and “Wrote A Song for Everyone” perfectly mirror the times and need for change that were a part of the period in which the songs was written. Creedence let suburban white kids know about areas of their country, and segments of its population, in a time when mass exposure of country ways of life were seen only in period movies. “Down on the Corner” showed Willy and His Poor Boys making a living in the only way they knew how, while “Proud Mary” and “Born on the Bayou” talked of life along the Mississippi and in the Deep South.

Creedence Clearwater Revival spent a little over three years as a chart topping group, but their sound has, and will, live forever.  Ultimate, Greatest Hits and All Time Classics reminds and remembers a group that puts American acts on par with bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.  Danny McCloskey/RA

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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss (from the album Raising Sand) - It was an unlikely duo, put together by a producer renowned for left-of-center projects. When Robert Plant and Alison Krauss released Raising Sand, the T-Bone Burnett-produced album immediately had critics tripping over their tongues, becoming fans once again for a pairing that got attention. T-Bone Burnett curated the tracks on Raising Sand, hearing the songs as perfect vehicles for the marriage of a Bluegrass Country star (Alison Krauss) and a rock god (Robert Plant). Released by Rounder Records on October 23, 2007, the album garnered top spots on the top music press charts for the 2007 year end. The album continued to grow and went on to receive 2009 Grammy awards (#51) for each of the five categories in which it was nominated. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss shared trophies for Album of the Year, Best Contemporary Folk – Americana Album, Record of the Year (“Please Read the Letter”), Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals (“Rich Woman”), and Best Country collaboration (“Killing the Blues”). The track “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)” won Best Pop Collaboration for Grammy #50 in 2008. Sales in the first week of the Raising Sand release topped numbers for either artists’ solo releases.  

The sound of Raising Sand is ethereal on a consistent basis. The genius of the collaboration is the virgin presence of both vocalists meeting in new territory. Both Alison Krauss and Robert Plant had forged careers pushing down doors and staying true to intention. The song choices are not out of character for either voice, and it is the combined texture of conjoined vocals over the psychedelic Americana production of T-Bone Burnett that raises for bar for Raising Sand. The rhythm line of “Rich Woman” wobbles on a determined path as Robert Plant and Alison Krauss lock into the notes, never missing a hit when the voices mix. A funereal march pounds down the ground for the angelic delivery of “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us”, field Blues notes silence rock arena power chords to whisper “Nothin’”, string note freckle the air of “Your Long Journey”, and a rubbery rock’n’roll rattle accompanies the musical predictions of “Fortune Teller”.

The songs that became Raising Sand came all styles and eras. The Everly Brothers catalog offered two cuts; “Stick with Me Baby” was recorded for the duo’s 1960 debut A Date with the Everly Brothers, and “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On” appeared on a 1964 self-titled release. Robert Plant originally recorded “Please Read the Letter” with his Led Zeppelin partner, Jimmy Page, on the pair’s 1998 Walking into Clarksdale release. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss gracefully honor decades of music as they nod to Tom Waits with “Trampled Rose”, and give two audio thumbs up to the former songman from The Byrds, Gene Clark, with his tunes “Through the Morning, Through the Night” and “Polly Come Home”.

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