“My father used to tell me to turn this track up whenever I played it,” my father reminisced three days before I (unknowingly) was to review Creedence Clearwater Revisited. The track was “Born on the Bayou,” which happened to be the opener of Thursday’s concert at the Chumash Casino. Being raised by a Creedence Clearwater Revival fan has given me the privilege of knowing details of their tumultuous breakup-and the consequent “revisiting” of members Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford-told with more devotion than I am willing to recount out of respect for my father’s reputed sanity. As I penned my review, I couldn’t help but hear the groans of the CCR fans around me as they read my first thoughts: I missed the Fogerty brothers. You can’t talk about Revisited without the inevitable mention of the Fogertys, because their absence-John’s characteristic vocal growl and the power in Tom’s rhythm guitar-is so blatant. There, I said it. They were missed.
Nonetheless, I don’t think the band of yore could have performed any better 40 years later than these men performed on Thursday. The show was simply amazing. It was an energetic, innovative, and entertaining recollection of all the CCR hits one could pack into an hour and 15 minutes. Revisited’s power is largely attributed to the unfathomable talent and unwavering rhythmic backbone of drummer Doug Clifford. The man is unscathed by time. Yet, the virtuosity of lead guitar, Tal Morris, was at times overbearing and too experimental given the simplicity of the band’s original arrangements. This was specifically noted in the metal and jazz departures during “Susie Q” and “Run through the Jungle.” The electric ramble-tamble of “Down on the Corner” also left more to be desired. Here’s a song about Willy and the Poor Boys that was once performed with a washtub bass; under the harbinger of modernity, it could have used a little more cowbell. Nevertheless, Morris is a highly talented lead and a worthy replacement, much like John Fogerty’s vocal substitute, John Tristao, whose stage presence was delightfully over the top. The highlight of the night was by far “Commotion,” thanks to the sprightly playing of harmonicist Steve Gunner and bassist Stu Cook. It was the tune that reinvigorated my love of CCR enough to dust off my 33 of “Green River” and turn up the track.