Travelin’ Band by Bob Smeaton [6/10]

Why are you weeping, man, why? “Travelin’ Band: Creedence Clearwater Revival at the Royal Albert Hall” takes me back, way back, to a callow fifteen-year-old buying his first record, Cosmo’s Factory, and falling hard for rock music. Well, at exactly that time, in April 1970, CCR were at their apogee and playing in the Albert Hall in London. Now director Bob Smeaton has excavated unseen footage of that performance, and, at least for the first half of this documentary, has woven together news footage, goofy interviews, and other contemporary footage, stitched together by the gravelly voice of Jeff Bridges.

Although the second half’s concert footage might be newly unearthed treasure, the actual Albert Hall concert, recorded with a slightly flat effect, the crowd barely audible, shows the band as I recall them, a perfect rendition of the records. In a sweaty crowd, John Fogerty’s incredible shredding voice and plangent guitar stood out, but the drama gets lost onscreen. The footage also illustrates just how pedestrian (if most competent) the other three band members were. But when John brushes his mop of hair back and launches into a super-fast version of “Fortunate Son,” his face pouring out emotion, we forgive all sins, indeed the years fade away and we recall those golden times when we could truly utter the mantra: Music will save us.

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