A little house cleaning last year has resulted in a new — albeit 35-year-old — solo album from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Doug Clifford.
Clifford recorded Magic Window, whose “Just Another Girl” is premiering exclusively below, with friends while living in Lake Tahoe. He got busy with other endeavors, including the Neighbors For Defensible Space initiative to deal with a drought about the same time, and the tapes were put away and moved to his current residence in Reno — where he unearthed them last year in his garage.
“I found all these two-track masters, about 10 of them, probably 100 songs with different artists,” Clifford, who’s also worked as a producer, tells Billboard. “I’m using myself as the first guy out of the shoot ’cause (Magic Window) was my best performance as a singer and a songwriter. It was a complete project for me; I wasn’t just the drummer in the band. I was the artist and producer and all those other things.”
Magic Window, due out April 24, isn’t Clifford’s first solo effort outside of Creedence, however. He recorded Cosmo (his nickname) in 1972, but he considered it “an album for the sake of art. It was an experiment. I knew I had a budget from Fantasy (Records) so it wasn’t going to cost me anything. We just set up to see what we could do, and it worked. But it wasn’t terrific singing even or anything. On (Magic Window) I was really confident I could lay down some good vocals.”
The 10-track Magic Window also stands up as contemporary to its time. While a track such as “Born on the South Side” evokes some “Born on the Bayou” grit, the other tracks have a polished mid-80s kind of feel, including synthesizers and other production techniques popular at the time — “Don’t Let Go,” for instance, would have fit on any Rick Springfield album — but without sounding dated. “I think it still has kind of a freshness,” Clifford says about the album, which he recorded with guitarist and co-producer Russell DaShiell, bassist-keyboardist Chris Solberg and guitarist Rob Polomsky. “I don’t think it really sounds like, ‘Oh, that’s ’80s!’ The biggest giveaway would be the Simmons tom-toms that were the rage at the time, but they worked pretty well — and I hear some of that coming back now. But the key is I knew myself and the guys were really talented. It was a labor of love; I had time and did it right.
“I’m really proud of it, and I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people.”
Clifford — who recently put his Creedence Clearwater Revisited band with bassist Stu Cook to pasture — has no plans to play live in support of Magic Window. “I can’t sing anymore to do a concert,” says Clifford, whose voice has been impacted by cancer treatments. He does plan to dip into the other recordings he found for eventual release, including some with Bobby Whitlock from Derek and the Dominos on vocals.
Other than that, Clifford adds, “My producer’s hat will be what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my career. I really like making records for other people. It’s very rewarding.”