This is a rather bizarre documentary-cum-concert film that tries to be a brief history of CCR, a tour film, and a concert film all in one go. It doesn’t succeed at any of those three things though, in its second half, it gets closest to being just a pure concert film.
If you’re a fan of CCR, you’ll enjoy this. There is some live footage of the band and some tour footage and interviews that most fans probably have never seen before.
The tour footage and interview excerpts in particular are worth watching the film for, it’s a rather revealing portrait of the band. Stu Cook in particular comes across as thoughtful and someone who could have hosted his own travel or music show had such things existed in 1970. It’s an interesting view of a group of Americans experiencing Europe for the first time and I wish more of that part of the film. Maybe there wasn’t enough footage.
The rough history of the band is cursory and I’m not sure exactly what the point of it is (though I have an idea). I can see a pretty good documentary made out of the tour footage and the history of CCR, maybe as part of a general history of the band, but in this film, which is ostensibly a concert film, it feels out of place and kind of silly. (Are non-CCR fans watching this documentary? The title implies it’s a concert film, not a biography.)
And then there’s the Royal Albert Hall performance (as well as snippets from their European tour). The sound is excellent and if you want to just see CCR perform live you should watch this film because they have done a fantastic job of the sound. (This applies to the concert portion in particular. At times earlier in the film they show live footage but play studio recordings.) The disappointment for me is that they just play their songs, straight through. “Good Golly Miss Molly” gets a little bit of variation, and that’s only because Fogerty finally doesn’t play the exact same solos as the studio version. It’s been too long since I’ve listened to “Keep on Chooglin'” but it is the only song that really seems to stray from the record. But, on the whole, this is a band that plays like the record. That has never been my type of band and I always figured CCR weren’t that band. So seeing them just run through a set of faithful versions of their songs is kind of disappointing.
At bottom, I suspect this is why the film is really films crammed into one – the actual Royal Alberta Hall concert wasn’t long enough to support a feature film. (Turns out, that’s true. They played for 42 minutes. Lame.) But they could have more artfully edited the tour footage into it in order to create a tour film without a biography. That would have been the better film, regardless of whether or not CCR is my type of live band.
PS The film, but particularly some interview quotes and the performance of “Keep on Chooglin'” give you some idea of why the band broke up.