Creedence Clearwater Revival emerged in 1968, seemingly from some Alabama swamp, but actually from El Cerrito, California. Going against the psychedelic music that was prevalent at the time, Creedence began playing a stripped down, bluesy swamp rock. But as their career progressed, frontman John Fogerty’s writing grew in confidence, and the band turned into a classic rock hits machine. But after six albums between 1968 and 1970, Fogerty’s writing muse began to run dry, and the other members of the band fought for artistic control. But the band’s brief career resulted in a truckload of great songs, and some terrific albums.
#7 Mardi Gras (1972)
After John’s brother, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, left the band, John gave the other two members of the group album space to write and sing their compositions. I’ve never heard this, but I’m happy to avoid it – even John’s material like ‘Sweet Hitch-hiker’ and ‘Someday Never Comes’ isn’t among his best. It’s generally a unanimous pick for Creedence’s worst studio album.
#6 Pendulum (1970)
Pendulum is more of a studio-based album than Creedence’s previous albums – I like the more detailed arrangements, like the soulful organ on some tracks. But on their sixth album since 1968, it feels as though John Fogerty’s running out of songs, and despite a few strong songs like ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’, Pendulum was the band’s weakest effort to date.
#5 Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s debut showcases their swampy bluesy boogie. Many of the songs are covers, including the minor hit ‘Suzie Q’, and it’s pretty reliant on basic blues progressions. But even though the band would write more interesting songs in the future, their basic sound is already fun and infectious.
#4 Bayou Country (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s second album builds on their first, mostly by featuring some strong John Fogerty originals like ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Born on the Bayou’ alongside their swampy boogie.
#3 Green River (1969)
Again, Creedence Clearwater Revival move forward by including more original songs and diversifying their sound more. A hint of country begins to appear on songs like ‘Lodi’, while ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ is also acoustic and pretty.
#2 Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
For my money, this is where Creedence Clearwater Revival enter their peak era. Jammed so full of hits (‘Down On The Corner’, ‘Fortunate Son’), great album tracks (‘It Came Out of the Sky’, ‘Effigy’), and ace covers (‘Cotton Fields’, ‘Midnight Special’), that you’ll barely notice a couple of insubstantial instrumentals.
#1 Cosmo’s Factory(1970)
Cosmo’s Factory is so packed with great songs that it almost plays like a Greatest Hits album – ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, ‘Up Around The Bend’, ‘Ooby Dooby’, and ‘As Long As I Can See The Light’. There’s also the opening swamp groove of ‘Ramble Tamble’ and the lengthy cover of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. Immense.
Do you have a favourite Creedence Clearwater Revival album? Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like them?