Classic Songs Analyzed- Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Susie Q
A new feature we are doing here on the blog is taking some of our favorite old songs and digging a bit deeper into the production quality and the nuances that make them great songs. Today we are taking a look at Suzie Q by Creedance Clearwater Revival in its full length splendor. If you have a song you would like us to discuss send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or simply add your two cents in the comments field. Feel free to post any questions or comments.
Scott- Is it just me or do they change the sound effects on the drum at the beginning of the track? How was that effect achieved?
Galen- It is just you lol. Most of the recordings at that time were almost like recording live except with better acoustics and studio control. I think the sound change on the drums are just the effect of the rest of the instruments coming in. As we talk about in the My Life with Rock and Roll Legends book, the more instruments and sounds that get recorded the more diminished the individual instruments and sounds become. So when it is just that drum pounding by itself you can hear some echo or reverb and feel the pulse of the bass and the snare-but once the other instruments come its much harder to detect the nuances.
Scott- CCR was branded, and probably unfairly since they were from Northern California, a “swamp rock” band and characterized like they were from Louisiana and to some extent the band helped to promote the notion with Born on the Bayou, Proud Mary, and some of the other bayou/swamp related themes. What effects were they using on the guitars to get that type of sound?
Galen- They were using a raw live sound, the way they sounded on stage live and more importantly the producers and engineers did a fantastic job of getting that live/raw sound captured to vinyl. My group the Jerms played this song regularly….come to think of it most touring bands back then probably played some CCR staple as part of their act. But that sound was one of the things we liked, and most bands probably loved about Creedence. Ironically the sound they had was surprisingly good, clean, and crisp but they were able to add just enough distortion to get that unique sound. Hearing those tones always reminds me of the fender amps we were using at the time.
Scott- This song was recorded at Coast Recorders in San Francisco-was that a well known studio?
Galen- Not to those of us in the Los Angeles rock scene lol. We thought our studios had far better sound. Kind of funny to think the LA/San Fran rivalry even carried over to the recording studios of the day but it certainly did. We always thought the LA guys were better then the Northern California guys.
Scott- Listening to the song….do you hear anything particular that can be attributed to the studio setting or setup or anything at all unique to the overall production and engineering?
Galen- No not to me, to me it seems like it was pretty much studio 101 from that period and the standard of the day. I would think there setup was probably the same that could have been reproduced from any of the studios of that time…with the exception of maybe Motown or Stax or something like that.
Scott- Creedence is probably the best example of a band getting screwed really badly by their management company…maybe the worst example of all time of a band signing a horrible deal ever. Was that well known at the time and in that era they were making peanuts while the manager was cleaning up?
Galen- Over my career in music, I got screwed so much it became the norm and it the work I did with BB King and the Crusdaders on the Royal Jam album comes to mind.. Sadly, I am sure there are plenty of people that worked in the business that were screwed over at some time or another. It probably happens in all types of businesses but when the project you worked on ends up being some mega hit or a legendary album it always stings a bit more. Imagine you getting screwed over and losing a bunch of royalties on something you worked your ass off on and having to listen to it over and over again on the radio. With other jobs, you get screwed and you move on. In music, you get screwed and have to listen to the evidence 50 times a day.
One thing I would like to add is about the vocal sound occurs about 1:40 into the song. When you really listen to the sound of his voice, I believe this was a real old school technique that was done by holding your nose and standing to the side of the mic. This allows no lows or highs into the mic. Today with Pro Tools etc. you have processors that filter the highs and lows and creates that sound. Back then though, you used what you had and this was not uncommon when needing to get a vocal at a certain level. I really liked Creedance, to me Fogarty is one of the best soul/spirit type guitar players and singers around. Its not like he has a good voice, but he gets a ton out of it and in conjunction with his underrated guitar, he is a legend for sure.