When Creedence Clearwater Revival released their third album, Green River, in August of 1969, the nation’s mood was a somber one. With the Vietnam War raging on and the wounds from the Civil Rights struggle still fresh, John Fogerty’s title track declaration that the “world [was] smolderin'” was something of an understatement, a sentiment that Fogerty carried into subsequent albums Willy and the Poor Boys and Cosmo’s Factory.
Here in 2014, that sentiment feels as prescient and timely as ever. The events in Ferguson, MO, and the increasingly dire situation in the Middle East have made for a particularly bloody summer, one that has drawn a number of comparisons to those 1960s summers that inspired so much of CCR’s output.
While CCR’s message feels as relevant as ever, the music itself sounds nothing like what one hears scanning through today’s pop and rock radio, leading one to wonder whether the band responsible for countless Billboard hits and 26 million albums sold worldwide could survive today’s musical climate. When trying to conjure modern day equivalents, a couple names come to mind (namely Kings of Leon and the Black Keys), but there is no one comparison that matches CCR in sound, message or overall trajectory. In fact, it’s those three qualities, which brought the band such overwhelming success in the 1960s, which would likely damn them to obscurity today.
Though Fogerty and company hail from El Cerrito, CA, their music has an undeniably southern bent, one that has sparked many an “are they or aren’t they” debate when it comes to the distinction of “southern rock.” True “southern rock” or not, that Louisiana bayou-inspired sound made CCR famous is nowhere to be found on rock radio today (unless, again, you count the Black Keys, whose more recent output has drifted away from the Delta blues pastiche of their earlier albums). Country radio, too, has turned away from traditional country and southern rock in favor of pop and hip-hop, relegating most of what southern rock gets played on radio to oldies stations.
There are a handful of artists, like Little Big Town who have managed to bring a bit of CCR’s bayou sound to country radio, but noticeably without the band’s message, which, with their protest songs and frank discussions of class, would be far too liberal for a format that trades in patriotism and small town family values. Outside of country radio, protest songs are still a thing of the past, outdated relics occasionally dusted off by more outspoken artist like Bright Eyes or, more recently, EMA, never amounting to the colossal commercial success of songs like Green River’s “Bad Moon Rising” or Cosmo’s Factory’s “Fortunate Son.”
Few acts in recent memory have had the career trajectory of CCR, either. Mumford & Sons, whose Americana-via-England brand of interloping does mirror CCR’s outsider take on southern music, did see a swift rise to stardom with their debut Sigh No More, but have failed to match CCR in both prolificacy and cultural significance. With seven albums spanning just five years, CCR’s career is something of a microcosm of rock and roll stardom, with the band’s rise, peak and ultimate breakup occurring in the same time span it takes most acts to follow up their debut. That their legacy endures as strongly as those of other bands with decades under their belts speaks volumes to the influence Fogerty and his bandmates had on popular rock music.
CCR, then, is the kind of band that was truly born from a moment in history, one that managed to distill the tribulations and anxieties of a United States in transition into the kind of music that’s still influencing artists fifty years down the road. It’s hard to say if CCR would have had the same impact even just a few years later, as the Vietnam War ended and both disco and the Laurel Canyon movements swept the United States, but luckily for us they were in the right place at the right time. And while this generation may not have found its John Fogerty just yet, at least we have these albums to get us through, our own Green Rivers to escape to when the world starts smoldering.
I first encountered Led Zeppelin IV as an 8-year-old boy sleeping over my friend Doug Roeser’s house. His college-aged brother John had a poster of the album cover on the ceiling of his room, and Doug and I used to sleep beneath it. The iconic image is of course of that hermit bent over, carrying the bundle of sticks on his back. That image alone would have filled my head with visions and wanderings. Where was he going? What did he need those sticks for? Where had he been and what in this world had bent him over so?
But there was more to light the candle in my young mind. See Doug’s mother used to also get changed for bed in a bathroom across the hall from where we slept, and she would leave the door open. So I would watch her through half-closed eyes, feigning sleep, and my head and heart were on fire.
Somehow those early fantasies and the mystery of that image on the ceiling have merged in my mind and come to embody the sound that I would ultimately discover when I first heard the actual music of Led Zeppelin IV. I suppose Doug’s mother was my lady climbing the “Stairway to Heaven.”
But even without her, the music itself captured my young unformed mind perfectly. For youth is all about freedom and range. And by range, I mean wild ecstasy followed immediately by a crash. It’s Dyonysian. It’s all frantic potential. And everything is the best or worst thing ever.
That’s what that music was to me then, and I think it still is. It’s exotic. It’s unbridled and untamed. It’s a 12-string guitar not just your everyday 6-string. And of course it’s a ton of muscular electric guitars. But there’s horns. There’s flutes. There’s distortion. But there’s also beauty. The guitar in “Going to California,” for example, is just stunning. And then there’s Robert Plant. Holy. My voice, when I found it, couldn’t be further from his tone and style. But what could be a better influence on somehow who would one day want to sing than hearing that kind of emotional and physical freedom in a voice?
I don’t think I’ve ever cited Led Zeppelin as an influence. But when I think back on this time of discovery, I’m so grateful that I found the band and this album when I did. For subliminally, if not actively, I think it taught me that music had the power to make a listener dream, had the power to turn a world from black and white into color, had the power to free the mind and unleash the spirit.
I don’t need to tell you anything about Johnny Cash. That’s probably the greatest testament to any artist’s legacy — that their life is elevated to the stuff of myth. The problem with the mythological “Man In Black,” is that we forget all the ways he was just like us, the very reasons he was so beloved. Unlike the airbrushed pop stars of today, Cash connected with the broken down, bruised up, addicted, imprisoned, impoverished, marginalized, and misunderstood.
But make no mistake, Johnny Cash was a huge star, 0ne of the biggest stars there ever was, with over 100 top 40 country hits and 48 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop (yes pop!) charts –about the same number as the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys. Yet, turn on country radio today and it’s clear that the industry is focused on a very different kind of cash. It’s easy to sigh and lament that times have changed so much since young J.R. showed up at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, but when Johnny Cash returned to public prominence in 2002 with his heart wrenching take on the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt,” he didn’t do it by pandering to the fashions of the time. He did what he’s always done. He showed us the power of uncompromising, honest, authentic art.
As a songwriter and artist, I don’t look to Johnny Cash as simply a grand figure in the history of American music. To me, he is the quintessential example of how to live and create with integrity. When we take the stage at Eddie’s Attic on May 8th to recreate the iconic record Live At Folsom Prison, we won’t only be celebrating that now timeless, distinctive style that is a genre all it’s own. We’ll be paying tribute to man who continues to teach us about the gritty dignity of staying genuine in a world of sugar-coated copycats. We hope to see you on Wednesday. This is gonna be a good one!
In those early misty mornings when we were dreaming up what would one day become the ATL Collective, thinking of what albums we wanted to present, what artists we wanted to feature, what drink hooks we wanted to tie in, we often heard a soft drumming on the tin roof, on the window panes, on the door posts. Micah thought it was branches or possibly birds. David assumed it was the neighborhood kids tossing pebbles, or perhaps coins. Both were wrong. It was actually the subliminal drumming of Purple Rain. Yes, it’s been there from the start, though it took a couple years to properly materialize. And how could it not have been there from the start? Prince’s 1984 release is nothing short of a masterpiece, and we are thrilled to announce that it is our next featured album. We will bring this beauty to you at the Sound Table – Space2 on Cupid’s day, February 14th at the romantic hour of 9pm. Our featured drink: why, it will be a sprightly blend of Old Overholt Rye, Sombra Mezcal, Cardamaro, lemon, grapefruit and sugar, of course. A whisper to the bar keep of these five words: “I Would Rye 4 U” are all you will need.
MailChimp is our fine presenter this evening, a relationship we couldn’t be happier about. The brilliant Shadowboxers will be our curators, that is, they will be our hosts – hand selecting the acts who will deliver the songs, painstakingly considering the arrangements and every bit of the spectacle that will leave you feeling, well, like you’re standing in a purple rain.
If you weren’t alive to see it happen in the mid-eighties, this album was and still is a pretty big deal. It won 2 Grammies and an Oscar. It’s gone platinum over 13 times. It spent 24 consecutive weeks as atop the Billboard charts. It’s sold over 20 million copies. Entertainment Weekly calls it the best album of all time. “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Purple Rain.” Enough?
This was the first record Prince recorded with (or at least credited) his and backing unit the Revolution. It was also the only record cover where he wore that purple velvet leisure suit we’ve all had nightmares (and maybe fantasies) about.
What we’re trying to say is that this is an epic record that we’ll be presenting on an epic night with an epic partner and an epic curator. So if you’ve got a special someone, well now you have a special evening basically laid out for you. If you don’t yet have a special someone, you’ve got a couple weeks to find that person. But that’s all you have to worry about. We’ve got the entertainment under control.
Folks, The Pretender is just around the corner, and so Jackson Browne is on the brain. And when Jackson Browne is on the brain, he’s also in the heart. For he’s a songwriter who exemplifies the use of both. Oh yes, this show on June 13th is going to be a goodie.
When Jackson Browne was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, Bruce Springsteen said that to him, “Jackson was always the tempered voice of Abel. Toiling in the vineyards, here to bear the earthly burdens, confronting the impossibility of love, here to do his father’s work.” The voice of Abel… Whew. Hard not to feel that one in the marrow of your bones. This is a description of a soul so deep, he can lend a voice to the sufferer, to the downtrodden and broken hearted. Here’s a spirit who doesn’t shy away from what’s hard in a life.
This depth isn’t necessarily obvious in his most famous work, like “Take it Easy,” “Doctor My Eyes,” or even the title track for our record “The Pretender.” Though those might be his most famous songs, they showcase his breezy California side, the long-haired, barefoot, everything is beautiful Jackson Browne. Not to take away from the brilliance of that side, but it is his darker catalog that showcases the richness of Jackson Browne. “These Days” or “For a Dancer,” well almost anything on the album Late for the Sky, really show where Jackson’s heart truly is. “Jackson was one of the first songwriters I met who demonstrated the value of thinking hard about what you were saying, your subject,” Springsteen also said at the induction ceremony. And you can see what he means in Jackson’s darker songs.
Jackson’s songs have been done by so many standouts. The Eagles, The Byrds, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Nico, Tom Rush, to name a few. There’s a reason for this, and it’s not just that the guy writes a great song. It’s that those songs are great because they come from a place that we all at times know and feel. Jackson Browne has long been able to dip his pail into some well of universal emotion. And we’re all the luckier because he’s pulled it to the surface, let us sip from it, let us see ourselves in its waters.
-David Berkeley, ATL Collective Co-Founder
The Supremes, American pop-soul vocal group whose tremendous popularity with a broad audience made its members among the most successful performers of the 1960s and the flagship act of Motown Records. The principal members of the group were Diana Ross (byname of Diane Earle; b. March 26, 1944, Detroit, Mich., U.S.), Florence Ballard (b. June 30, 1943, Detroit —d. Feb. 22, 1976, Detroit), Mary Wilson (b. March 6, 1944, Greenville, Miss.), and Cindy Birdsong (b. Dec. 15, 1939, Camden, N.J.).
Not only were the Supremes the Motown label’s primary crossover act, they also helped change the public image of African Americans during the civil rights era. With their sequined evening gowns and the sophisticated pop-soul swing given them by the songwriting-production team ofBrian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland from 1964 to 1967, the Supremes were the idealized look and sound of the “integrated Negro.” Indeed, the youth of America learned many of its first lessons about racial equality from teen magazines that documented every hyperglamourized move the Supremes made as they went from topping the pop chart to appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” to sold-out Las Vegas, Nevada, bookings.
Their story began humbly enough when a group of working-class girls from Detroit’s Brewster public housing project formed a singing group called the Primettes, their name derived from their sister-act association with the Primes, a forerunner of the Temptations. The details of the group’s formation (namely, who came first) have been disputed, but, from a series of permutations of five principals (including, initially, Betty McGlown), a quartet emerged that comprised Ballard, Barbara Martin, Ross, and Wilson. After recording briefly with Lupine Records, the quartet signed with Berry Gordy’s Motown Records in 1960. They changed their name to the Supremes before releasing their first Motown single in 1961, and upon the subsequent departure of Martin the remaining trio went on to score five U.S. number one hits in a row between 1964 and 1965.
But the Supremes didn’t catch on right away. It took a while to create the distinctive look and sound that ultimately made them famous. Gordy unsuccessfully paired the group with different musicians and songs for three years until he finally stumbled upon the right formula. In 1964 Holland-Dozier-Holland gave the Supremes their first number one single with “Where Did Our Love Go.” Embellishing Ross’s precise, breathy phrasing with chiming bells and a subdued rhythm section gave the Supremes an intentional lack of identifiable ethnicity. Not really sounding “white” or stereotypically “black,” hit singles like “Baby Love” and “Come See About Me” (both 1964) sounded modern, upwardly mobile, and stylishly sensual in a way that appealed equally to adults and teens of all persuasions.
The group continued to rack up chart-topping hits but was ultimately pulled apart by conflicting individual and corporate ambitions. By the end of 1967, the Supremes had lost both Ballard (who was replaced by Birdsong) and producers Holland-Dozier-Holland. The group continued recording for two more years as Diana Ross and the Supremes, largely to prepare the public for Ross’s solo career. Jean Terrell became the first of many new group members who helped Wilson keep the Supremes alive and recording for seven years after Ross departed in 1970.
Ross’s solo career was greatly aided by starring roles in films financed by her longtime mentor, Gordy. Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Mahogany(1975), and The Wiz (1978) and their soundtrack albums kept Ross in the public eye and ear for most of the 1970s. The Boss (1979), produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and Diana (1980), produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, were both hits, but aside from a controversial concert in Central Park, New York City, in 1983 and some American television appearances, Ross spent the rest of the 1980s and ’90s cultivating a foreign fan base that outstripped her popularity in the United States.
The Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
There are still tickets available for our hand-picked event with Scoutmob, Bearings and Monday Night Brewery. The early show is sold out, but tickets to the late show at 9:30pm are still available.
Monday Night Brewing is an Atlanta-based craft beer company. They currently offer two delicious styles of beer on draft in select Atlanta establishments- both of which will be available at our show! Two pint glasses included for free with your Scoutmob handpicked purchase!
ATL Collective partners with Scoutmob and Bearings for an Exclusive Hand-Picked Event Sunday, March 18