Creedence Clearwater Revival split in early 1972, which is only part of the reason why it was a busy year for Tom Fogerty. When CCR's farewell arrived in the spring of 1972, he already had an eponymous album in stores, recorded with keyboardist Merl Saunders, bassist John Kahn, drummer Bill Vitt, and guitarist Russ Gary. This same lineup quickly went back into the studio to cut another record, this time swapping Gary for a guitarist of greater renown: Jerry Garcia. The appearance of Captain Trips on Excalibur is logical, as the album essentially features the group that was gigging around the Bay Area as the Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia band (if anything, it's a surprise that Jerry didn't sit in on the first Fogerty LP), and this fact puts the LP in a different light. While Tom Fogerty still sounds a bit like his brother John and is more inclined to choogle than his bandmates -- who are nevertheless happy to follow him when he decides to lay into the New Orleans -- this shouldn't be seen as a CCR castoff. Instead, Excalibur belongs in the extended Dead universe, capturing an elastic, winding rock & roll whose essential three-chord boogies seem slightly spacy. That vague trippiness can sometimes translate into music that feels a little bit lazy -- they're all jamming on mellow grooves, a notable shift from the driving backbeat of CCR -- but it also contains its share of period charms. Above all, Excalibur is an artifact of the early '70s, a record that finds space for the ornate AM-psych of "Sign of the Devil" but is generally more concerned with hippie rhythms that are just starting to seem a little musty. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- Genre: Pop
- Format: Vinyl
- Released: 7/6/2018
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