Creedence Clearwater Revival
[40th Anniversary Edition]
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2009, Volume 16, #2
Written by John Metzger
Tue February 17, 2009, 06:30 AM CST
Nearly nine months separated Willy and the Poor Boys from Cosmo’s Factory. While this wasn’t much time for most outfits to spend between albums, it must have seemed luxurious to Creedence Clearwater Revival. After all, the group had issued its first four endeavors within the span of only 16 months. As its audience expanded, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s tour schedule grew busier, and this likely forced the collective to slow down the pace at which it was creating new material. Nevertheless, principal songwriter John Fogerty obviously had grown quite accustomed to the notion of working rapidly.
For the record, Cosmo’s Factory wasn’t the best of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s efforts. It was, however, its most successful outing — and for good reason, too. Although it lacked the thematic cohesion of Green River, Cosmo’s Factory was stuffed full of truly great tunes that showcased the complete range of the band’s potential. In fact, there wasn’t a dud among its 11 tracks. While it’s true that the set boasted certain effects and other affectations that only a studio setting could have provided, Cosmo’s Factory found Creedence Clearwater Revival returning to a rougher, rowdier sound, one that was more evocative of its concerts.
Leaving behind the polish that had crept into Willy and the Poor Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival journeyed back to its roots. First and foremost, the group successfully circumnavigated its influences via a quartet of cover songs. The Sun Studio forays of Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley were reflected respectively in Creedence Clearwater Revival’s faithful but exuberant renditions of Ooby Dooby and My Baby Left Me. Elsewhere, Bo Diddley’s Before You Accuse Me bounced off the white-boy blues of the British music scene, distilling it all into an economical, three-minute pop song. Meanwhile, Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It through the Grapevine headed in the opposite direction, as Fogerty essentially transformed Gaye’s polished Motown musings into a rousing, Southern soul concoction that fused Otis Redding with the Grateful Dead.
Fogerty’s original compositions helped to fill in the missing pieces, too. Traveling Band revisited his infatuation with Little Richard. The Beatles’ canon, however, continued to serve as his primary guide. The difference, though, was that where Green River had been built around Rubber Soul, Cosmo’s Factory felt — because of its eclecticism — like a response to The White Album. Still, Cosmo’s Factory was more than just an ode to the history of rock ’n‘ roll or a survey of Fogerty’s musical heroes. It also essentially gave him an opportunity to provide a full-blown encapsulation of everything Creedence Clearwater Revival had ever done.
From the swampy paranoia of Run through the Jungle to the politically minded Who’ll Stop the Rain and from the contented country-rock of Looking Out My Back Door to the gospel-infused soul of Long As I Can See the Light, Fogerty poured everything he had into Cosmo’s Factory. When the album was released, it not only seemed as if Creedence Clearwater Revival was an unstoppable force but also like it was doing the groundwork for even better things to come. In hindsight, however, Fogerty simply was trying to save his band from collapsing. Even a collaboration with Booker T. & the MGs didn’t help to stop its free fall. Cosmo’s Factory might not have been the end of the Creedence Clearwater Revival’s run, but the outfit never again offered to the world a set of material quite like this. ½
Of Further Interest...
Cosmo's Factory is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2009 The Music Box