Jul 022010
Rock Band DLC

If you follow me on Twitter (and why don’t you?) then you doubtless saw my explosive bout of squee when I heard the pretty reliable rumour that the next DLC pack would be full of CCR. I’ve been clamouring for Creedence (real Creedence, not more covers) for years. YEARS. Yeah, I was excited.

Then came the dread. Wait, this is Creedence Clearwater Revival, right? Not that Revisited thing which dares claim the Creedence name? Are they live or studio? Are they originals or rerecords? I mean, I’m still excited, but now I’m a little nervous too.

I needn’t have been. This morning I awoke to the glorious news of a twelve-pack of original studio recordings by John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

And every single one of these twelve are beautiful, beautiful gems.

“Bad Moon Rising”
“Born on the Bayou”
“Down on the Corner”
“Fortunate Son (Original Version)”
“Green River”
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door”
“Proud Mary”
“Run Through the Jungle”
“Travelin’ Band”
“Up Around the Bend”
“Who’ll Stop the Rain”

None are marked for LEGO, which again surprises me.

There’s been a little stir (very little, given the “heavy boil” setting the Rock Band forums are usually set to) over some of the songs not included in the pack. To me though it’s a moot point. CCR are one of those groups that did so much good shit that Harmonix would invariably have to leave something good out. Same thing with the Queen pack. And also like the Queen pack, each one of these songs is fantastic.

It’s hard to imagine that there’s someone out there who doesn’t know “Bad Moon Rising”. Even the song itself assumes you know it; it comes out of the gate, not bothering to take the time to introduce itself as it immediately gets down to business. Not one known particularly for a guitar riff or singular catchy hook – the whole song is the hook. What’s more, it’s one that everybody either already knows or will pick up very quickly. Everyone who has Rock Band parties or regular gatherings will be picking this up.

If you had to pick one song to represent CCR it would probably be “Born the Bayou”. It’s got the slow groove, the bluesy guitar, and Fogerty’s gritty drawling vocals in full swing. A wonderfully written song where everything comes together to create a singular pervasive mood.

“Down on the Corner” is a bit more straight-forward as far as standard rock goes. It’s got a definitive riff that runs throughout the song, and is one of the few CCR songs that actually has backup vocals (something I was trying to think of yesterday, if CCR DLC would be somehow “lacking” for not having harmonies. Answer: no). As with many Creedence songs it says what it wants to say and then leaves; the song doesn’t quite make it to three minutes. But it doesn’t need to either. Another that should be great for parties.

“Fortunate Son” is no stranger to Rock Band – a cover version was in the very first DLC week back in 2007. However, serviceable as that cover was, I happily welcome the real thing. Nobody can match John Fogerty tearing through that song. (Interesting to note that the cover version is playable in LEGO but that there’s no mention of any of these tracks being able to make the cross. I wonder not for the first time if Harmonix are just spacing on mentioning LEGO compatibility in their DLC announcements.)

“Green River” is another good blend of riff and vocals – if you listen to the song enough, I defy you to not sing the guitar just as much as you sing the lyrics. What I probably like best about “Green River” though is that’s one of those that, much like “Born on the Bayou”, paints such a vivid picture of a particular place at a particular time. Just like Green River, this song is cool and inviting.

The big question with “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” is if it’ll be the full 11 minute version or not. A good question that I’ll be able to give you the answer to on Tuesday (I’m hoping “yes” but expecting “no”). I was frankly surprised this was included in there, but I’m really glad it is. If you’ve only heard Marvin Gaye’s version you’re in for a treat. Not surprisingly Gaye’s version is a lot smoother, but that only helps to offset the harshness on full display here. I usually don’t hone in on drums in CCR but I love their use of the bass kick between the verses, helping to give the song a dark undertone. The jam just helps to drive home the anger and desperation in this version, and I do sincerely hope they keep it. [ETA: Harmonix has confirmed that it will be the full version. Epic pack has become epic-er.]

When I was little “Lookin’ Out My Backdoor” was one of my favourites; perhaps not surprising when you listen to the lyrics, but I don’t think I ever knew what those lyrics were. I think I just loved the beat and the easily sing-alongable “doo doo doo”, and for some reason the slow down at the end was always a delight. All these years later and it still remains one of my favourites. A fast, upbeat, feel-good song that’s not really about much of anything.

“Proud Mary” is one of those rare CCR songs that’s so overshadowed by its cover versions (y halo thar Tina Turner [you should be in RB too]) that it’s sometimes easy to discount the original. For that alone I was glad to see it included in this pack; I was so sure it wouldn’t be. There’s some great guitar work going on in here that I’m excited to play (though I momentarily lament there won’t be a pro-mode for it). This is a fantastic song no matter who’s doing it, and here it’s just as laid back as song about cruising down the river should be.

“Run Through the Jungle” is a fantastic song that simply never lets up. That riff running through it is relentless, creating and holding the feeling of dangerous pursuit. The noise at the beginning and end are the perfect bookends to a pretty dark and ominous song.

Another personal CCR favourite is “Travelin’ Band”, which is a straight up love song to 50s rock. This is two minutes of pure rock and roll with not a second wasted. Love love love.

And okay, so “Up Around the Bend” is also a favourite. This is another that showcases Fogerty’s guitar; that riff is something else. This should have everyone up and singing along, it’s another that should easily be a party staple.

Of the whole pack, “Who’ll Stop the Rain” is probably the one I like the least. But it’s like looking at a litter of newborn puppies and pointing to one and saying it’s your least favourite – it’s still a newborn puppy. Still, of all the songs in this pack, it’s one of the more straight folksy, and is probably one of the more beautiful as a result. The slow fade-out at the end, with the same three notes standing out over and over is particularly poignant.

As you probably have been able to infer by now, we will be purchasing the whole pack. Tuesday. Immediately. But if you’re sort of teetering one way or the other on going for the full pack, please note that each song is $2/160 MS which would be $24/1920 MS if you bought them all individually. Buying the whole pack however is $20/1600 MS – or, basically, Buy the pack, get two tracks free.

Buying exactly what I would’ve bought anyway, but getting some of it for free anyway? Yes please!

A fantastic release that, for me, more than makes up for the Miley/Nickelback disappointments of the past few weeks.

  • Stephanie Jane

    The reason I am most excited about this… ACTUALLY LEARNING THE LYRICS TO THESE SONGS, not just mumbling through them the way we all do.

    But they left out “Lodi” so I has a semi-sad.

    But truly, it’s happy: Who’ll Stop The Rain/Backdoor/Fortunate Son/Bad Moon are all going to be hugely fun to sing & play. No complaints of substance here.

    • Jet Wolf

      Yeah, “Lodi” came up a few times in the reactions I think, as did “Suzi Q” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”. Something to consider – since HMX have clearly been able to use a lot of these older masters, and with RB3 right around the corner, there’s a good chance we’ll see another CCR song on that setlist. Particularly when you consider that the 60s, as a whole, is usually under-represented when it comes to the disc songs.

      This is totally “buy and play on release day” for us.

      Oh, and a heads up: Xbox Live is going to put a bunch of music game DLC on sale next week, from Rock Band, Guitar Hero (5 and World Tour) and Lips. I’ll be posting about that shortly as well. If there’s some tracks you guys have been holding off on picking up, this might be a great time.