Creedence Clearwater Revival Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best

Creedence Clearwater Revival emerged in 1968, seemingly from a Florida swamp but actually from El Cerrito in California. Rebelling against the psychedelic music that was prevalent at the time, Creedence began their career playing stripped-down and bluesy swamp rock.

As CCR’s 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 ran dry, and the other members of the band fought for artistic control with famously terrible results. But the band’s brief career resulted in a truckload of great songs, and some terrific albums.

Here are Creedence Clearwater Revival’s seven studio albums, ranked from worst to best:


#7 Mardi Gras

Rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty left the band in protest of his brother’s dominance. A frustrated John allowed the other two remaining members space to write and sing their compositions. Even John’s material like the heavy ‘Sweet Hitch-hiker’ and pretty ‘Someday Never Comes’ doesn’t rank among the group’s best. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford are a strong rhythm section, but their songs are generic, and Clifford is a poor vocalist.


#6 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

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s debut showcases their swampy and bluesy boogie. Many of the songs are covers, including the minor hit ‘Suzie Q’, and it’s reliant on basic blues progressions. But even though John Fogerty would develop quickly as a songwriter, their core sound is already fun and infectious.


#4 Bayou Country

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s second album builds on the swamp rock of their first. It features strong John Fogerty originals like ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Born on the Bayou’ that stand out among their swampy boogie. Scarily, it was the first of three albums that the band released in 1969.


#3 Green River

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s development on their second album of 1969. The album contained two #2 hits – ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Green River’ – the group famously never topped the singles charts. There’s also more diversity on display – there’s a hint of country appears on songs like ‘Lodi’, while ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ is acoustic and gorgeous.


#2 Willy and the Poor Boys

Creedence Clearwater Revival enter their peak era on Willy and the Poor Boys. It’s jammed full of hits like ‘Down On The Corner’ and the protest song ‘Fortunate Son’. There are great album tracks like ‘It Came Out of the Sky’ and ‘Effigy’ and ace covers of ‘Cotton Fields’ and ‘Midnight Special’. You’ll barely notice a couple of insubstantial instrumentals.


#1 Cosmo’s Factory

Cosmo’s Factory
has so many great songs it plays like a Greatest Hits collection. Highlights include ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, ‘Up Around The Bend’, ‘Ooby Dooby’, and ‘As Long As I Can See The Light’. Among the deep cuts, there’s the opening swamp groove of ‘Ramble Tamble’ and the lengthy cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. Even if Creedence Clearwater Revival are sometimes thought of as a singles band, they had some great full-length albums too – Cosmo’s Factory is a case in point.

Do you have a favourite Creedence Clearwater Revival album? Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like them?

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  1. I’m not one of them. Universally loved I feel. My personal favourite is “Green River” followed by “Bayou Country”, then “Cosmo’s Factory” third.

  2. Mardi Gras is terrible despite John’s great material that is in it! I sort of think it is an interesting record, though. It’s like John saying to the other two members of the band “You guys want creative input? So let’s see you come up with some songs.” It’s bitter and hilarious, because I am pretty confident he knew the result would be lackluster but he let them do it in order to prove a point.

    Besides that one, the band’s other records all range from good to excellent. My top 3 would be the same as yours, even the order would be equal.

    • It looks like there’s quite a lot of unresolved frustration from both camps there – Fogerty’s pretty adamant that he was the band’s driving force, and the rhythm section stating that lots of the songs originated from group jams. Does mostly seem like a case of not biting the hand that feeds you – you’re in one of the most successful bands in the world with a guy who’s on a hot writing streak, why would you complain about it?

      • Yeah, I have read there is a lot of frustration and bitterness between them.

        Writing credits seem to be a big problem in bands. I guess assigning credit for songs is rather subjective, so some guys feel they deserve the credit and when the main songwriter does not give it to them, tension arises.

        That’s why I admire groups like U2 and R.E.M., where everybody gets the credit regardless of who wrote the song. It avoids quite a big mess. But I guess that arrangement does not work in a setting where you have one guy that is ridiculously prolific, such as John.

  3. I think the most impressive aspect of this is that – Mardi Gras aside – we’re looking at six albums recorded and released in a two year period. Ridiculous. No wonder they ran aground with that much writing, recording and touring pressure on them.
    Can’t listen to em anymore without picturing The Dude lighting one up and listening in his car. Not that that’s a bad thing

  4. I agree with the people here who said John Fogerty was the driving force of the band, but he wasn’t the only force. You only have to listen to his horrendous solo work to notice this. He was only the driving force as far as the songs were concerned, but not the music. Without the rest of the band he was unbelievably mediocre. And his song writing wasn’t even any good anymore after they broke up.

    • Feels like later bands learned from band tensions over royalties, and tended to split the songwriting credits equally. I think Fogerty did claim that he taught the rest of the band how to play.

  5. So Robert Brocculeri, how are you related to Saul Zantz? You could not be more wrong, and I’m pretty sure you are never going to “change” your mind because you’re “opinion” was not honest to begin with (nobody, but nobody is that far wrong if they’re being honest. You don’t have to love Fogerty’s music, but you’re statement is equivalent to saying Willie Mays was OK). Simply put, John Fogerty is one of the greatest musicians ever – perhaps the American version of John or Paul. Just watch his special concert at Red Rocks in 2019. At his age, he STILL shreds! He sounds like John Lennon on one song, Sly Stone on another, and of course has one of the most iconic, rich, and impressive voices in rock’n’roll history. Furthermore watch him absolutely shred the guitar.

  6. I entirely agree on Cosmo’s being no. 1, though Green River feels more like a unified album than Willy. It’s amazing how their top four albums still hold up so well today, though it’s hard to argue that there are no John Fogertys left in modern pop music.

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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

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