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Creedence Clearwater Revival – Worst to Best

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)
creedence-clearwater-revival-mardi-grasAfter 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)
creedence-clearwater-revival-pendulumPendulum 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-debutCreedence 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-bayou-countryCreedence 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)
creedence-clearwater-revival-green-riverAgain, 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)
creedence-clearwater-revival-willy-and-the-poor-boys
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)
creedence-clearwater-revival-cosmos-factoryCosmo’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?

18 thoughts on “Creedence Clearwater Revival – Worst to Best Leave a comment

  1. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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?

      Liked by 1 person

      • 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.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. 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

    Liked by 2 people

  3. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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.

      Like

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