Motown meets Bayou: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “I heard it through the grapevine” (1970)

Posted on Sat Jan 5 2008 at 11:27 am in the category 1960s, 1970s, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Gaye, Marvin, Soul / Funk / Motown -- Copyright notice

Listen while you read: “Heard it through the grapevine” (a half-decent recording of the song on youtube opens up in a new window)

I’ve been listening to a lot of Motown and related (R&B, Soul, Funk) since getting back into vinyl, including the likes of Al Green, Supremes, Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, and others. Marvin Gaye has been one of the highlights. The three-disc Anthology gives a great overview of his contributions, including his performance of “I heard it through the grapevine” (1968) , which is definitely a strong point in his repertoire. (The song was also done by Gladys Knight and the Pips the year before.)

What I had forgotten about was perhaps the rockinest (to use my five year old son’s vocabulary) and longest (11 minutes) version of this tune, which, in my opinion, may top any version of the tune. I am referring to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s southern-blues-rock-soaked rendition of 1970 (on the album Cosmo’s Factory).

From the slow-moving bass lines and staccato drumming that initiate the tune to the ever-interesting, rough vocal treatment by John Fogerty and the fine guitar solos, this version keeps my musical interest throughout. The rhythmic interplay of the two basses together with the slow-train-coming beat of the refrain create a trance-like experience in listening to this tune (it helps that it’s 11 minutes long). The final guitar solo that accompanies this swamp blues onslaught brings the whole thing to a perfect culmination, in my opinion.

I am really beginning to appreciate CCR, despite the fact that I might have thought of their music as southern, “old-people” music at one point. Maybe this is because I am an “old person” (read: over 30) now.

For an excellent site about Creedence Clearwater Revival, including discography, lyrics, and guitar riffs, go here. Wikipedia also has some information here. The cover up and to your left is the cover of Bayou Country (1969), which has some other CCR classics including “Bayou country”, “Good golly Miss Molly”, and “Proud Mary”. That one happens to be my favourite of their albums.

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