Nuggets: Fight Fire by The Golliwogs

Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 1965 to 1968 and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 60/118: Fight Fire by The Golliwogs
From: El Cerrito, California.
Aphoristic Rating: 8/10

FIGHT FIRE – The Golliwogs [2:24]
(John Fogerty/Thomas Fogerty)
Personnel/TOM FOGERTY: vocals, guitar * JOHN FOGERTY: lead guitar, vocals * STU COOK: bass * DOUG CLIFFORD: drums
Produced by PAUL ROSE
Recorded in San Francisco, CA
Scorpio single #405 (2/66)

If you’re paying attention to the credits above, you’ll probably recognise the names of The Golliwogs. John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford went on to find fame as Creedence Clearwater Revival. But the origins of the band go back to 1959 when they formed at Portola Junior High School as The Blue Velvets. They were briefly named Vision before Fantasy Records insisted on naming them The Golliwogs.

The Golliwogs released 21 singles between 1964 and 1967, with little hint of the phenomenal success they’d enjoy shortly after their rebranding. ‘Fight Fire’ is different from the swampy sound that would bring them success; most notably, Tom Fogerty is on lead vocals. He’s very competent but doesn’t bring the same charisma as his younger brother. There’s less grit in their sound – they’re closer to Liverpool’s Merseybeat than to the Louisiana swamps. Even in their embryonic form, they’re enjoyable; ‘Fight Fire’ is a strong Nugget.

In 1968, The Golliwogs were given the option to rename themselves before releasing their debut album – they chose Creedence Clearwater Revival.

According to interviews with band members twenty years later, the name’s elements came from three sources: Tom Fogerty’s friend Credence Newball, whose name they changed to form the word Creedence (as in creed); a television commercial for Olympia Brewing Company (“clear water”); and the four members’ renewed commitment to their band.

Wikipedia

The changes in the band’s sound were significant, but it presumably helped to switch to a less controversial name. Between May 1968 and December 1970 CCR were prolific and extraordinarily successful. Two of their six albums in that period topped the US charts, while they also enjoyed five #2 singles, albeit without a #1.

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15 Comments

  1. I never knew what to think about this one cuz I really like the music but I think it’s kind of a crummy song. I’m not sure if it’s one that I would keep on Nuggets or take it off. I’d probably keep it just because of who it is. Idk.

  2. I had a cassette of the Golliwogs which featured the song “Little Black Egg.” I like the early to mid-sixties sound…I can hear a rhythm slightly like Gloria going on. I like it. They were well-produced for that time.
    Hard to believe what they morphed into from this. I think Tom and John wrote a few songs also through that time.

    • Yup, it is a bit like ‘Gloria’. I guess music changed a lot in those couple of years – it swung back to roots-based music with The Band in 1968, and CCR with John on vocals fitted into that really well.

  3. Wow. There’s a surprise. Not only do they not sound like CCR – they also don’t sound like the Yardbirds. That is an amazing transformation. I must say I rather like it but there wasn’t enough identity there to do anything. It reminds me of how Springsteen was in a bunch of competent but indistinguishable bands till one day he said Screw It and took over

    • I think it’s a well-written song, but doesn’t jump out like a surefire hit. The Golliwogs is a terrible name – I assume it was borderline unacceptable back even then.

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