05 March 2009

Creedence Clearwater Revival

They're a staple on the classic rock stations, an institution of "southern rock." They have a hatful of hits, ranging from blues covers to party songs to rueful traveling jams. Creedence Clearwater Revival are an especially impressive band when you consider that they made seven albums in just over five years, all of which are good.

The critic's pick is usually Cosmo's Factory, which contains six singles, a cover of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and quite possibly their best song ever, "Ramble Tamble." Willy & The Poor Boys is another critical winner and fan favorite, and it's no wonder with their two biggest hits, "Fortunate Son" and "Down on the Corner."

But the only album that is generally disregarded is far and away my favorite in the CCR catalogue. 1972's Mardi Gras. This album only contains one song (the underrated "Someday Never Comes") featured on that ubiquitous "Chronicle Vol 1" album. As a youngster, Chronicle was my introduction to CCR, as it probably was for most anybody that's ever liked the band. But when I finally got around the listening to Mardi Gras, possibly the reason I liked it so much was because it didn't feature those Chronicle songs. These are the deep cuts.

What's more interesting is that this is the only CCR album that doesn't feature Fogerty Tom, and still the only one to feature songwriting contributions from the other members of the band. I don't know if John's tank was running dry or if the departure of Tom left him to reflect on his controlling ways, but I'm personally glad Doug Clifford and Stu Cook got their moment in the sun. And what's more, Clifford never sulled his nickname "Cosmo" with racist banter (see: Michael Richards). With all that variety, and without any singles (but one), nobody can differentiate between what's good and what's filler. It's brilliant!

Where Creedence were always teetering on the line between country and swamp rock boogie, they plummet into the country depths here. "Lookin' For A Reason" and "Tearin' Up the Country" are pure country- the former as an ambling stroll, the latter as a Johnny Cash homage. "What Are You Gonna Do" and "Hello Mary Lou" are two of the most straight-forward pop songs here, as punchy as they are simple.

The real shining moments, in my opinion, are single contributions from each member. Doug Clifford's "Need Someone to Hold' is the closest the album comes to balladry, and Clifford's the guy to do it, having a (relatively) smoother voice than the other two. "Someday Never Comes" is, as I said, underrated. If another song on this album contains a hint of balladry, it's this one, though it quickly shifts into driving rock, and just as quickly back to a slow-tempoed lament. Lyrically it's one of Fogerty's best, addressing the grandeur and egregiousness of youth. It's also the only song that clocks in at over 4 minutes. And then there's Stu Cook's "Sail Away." His voice, in contrast to Clifford's, is rougher than Fogerty's, and his delivery is totally overblown. It's an abrasive country pop number about shirking adult duties by taking to the sea. It's an appropriate song for his voice.

There is actually another single on this album that I've totally forgotten about until now. The Fogerty-penned "Sweet Hitchhiker" is the last track on the album, and basically sounds like every other barn-burning CCR song ever. I think it's maybe the most unexceptional song on the album, though it managed to get to #6 on the singles chart in its day. Forget about that song for the moment and enjoy the revamped stylings of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

The worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band" - Rolling Stone

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Mardi Gras

1) Lookin' For a Reason
2) Take It Like a Friend
3) Need Somebody to Hold
4) Tearin' Up the Country
5) Someday Never Comes
6) What Are You Gonna Do
7) Sail Away
8) Hello Mary Lou
9) Door to Door
10) Sweet Hitch-hiker

And here's a little something from the Japanese CCR cover band, Clearance Creamsoda Redial...what'd he say?


jessika.mk said...
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