Creedence Clearwater Revival Album Reviews

1969 and 1970 were flagship years for rock music, with most major 1960s acts still releasing albums, and exciting new acts that would dominate the 1970s emerging. But perhaps the best performing band in this micro-era was a four-piece band from California, which played stripped-down, swampy rock.

During 1969 and 1970 Creedence Clearwater Revival released five strong albums and landed five singles in the US top ten, including five #2s. Their bluesy sound was in contrast to the psychedelic rock prominent in 1968, while they wrote about Southern imagery despite never having visited. Creedence Clearwater Revival were nominally a band but were essentially a vehicle for frontman John Fogerty. Fogerty wrote all of the band’s significant original material and supplied the group’s most distinctive elements with his gritty voice and his fierce lead guitar.

The group recorded local singles as The Golliwogs in the mid-1960s, but the group was put on hiatus as John Fogerty and drummer Doug Clifford undertook national service. When they reformed, they were named Creedence Clearwater Revival. Their 1968 debut was enjoyable swamp rock, but John Fogerty quickly developed into an outstanding songwriter for the group’s 1969 and 1970 albums.

John Fogerty’s dominance eventually took its toll – his brother, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, left the band after 1970’s Pendulum, due to frustration with not having his songs featured on the band’s albums. John Fogerty responded by forcing the rhythm section, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, to contribute songs on 1972’s Mardi Gras. When their contributions were roundly panned, the band was wound down.

Creedence Clearwater Revival aren’t a band of hidden depths – what you see is what you get, with their straightforward arrangements. But that’s perfect for their material, and John Fogerty is a charismatic frontman and a very good writer. Keep on choogling, y’all.

Creedence Clearwater Revival Album Reviews

Creedence Clearwater Revival | Bayou Country | Green River | Willy and the Poor Boys | Cosmo’s Factory | Pendulum | Mardi Gras

Favourite Album: Cosmo’s Factory

Creedence Clearwater Revival


1968, 7/10
The group’s first album has their sound fully formed – they already have their infectious rootsy rock in place, with John Fogerty’s gritty vocals and impressive lead guitar. The main issue is the song-writing – the most memorable songs are the covers of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and ‘Suzie Q’, the latter a minor hit which started the band’s career. While Fogerty wrote five of the eight songs, most of them aren’t distinctive. As a result on this debut, Creedence Clearwater Revival are a tight bar blues band with a charismatic, throaty lead singer.

‘Porterville’ is the exception – it’s the song that’s furthest from the blues template, and it’s a portent of things to come from Fogerty, energetic and hook-filled. Creedence Clearwater Revival also features rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty’s only song for the band – a co-write on ‘Walking on Water’.

Creedence Clearwater Revival is an enjoyable, promising debut, but the group would become much stronger once John Fogerty’s writing hit full stride.

Bayou Country


1969, 7.5/10
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s second album Bayou Country is a step forward from their debut – while it’s similar-sounding, John Fogerty’s songwriting is more confident, and songs like ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Born On The Bayou’ are Creedence’s first great originals. Fogerty has stated that the success of ‘Suzie Q’ gave them a pathway to success, but meant that he had to assert his authority over the band: “The other guys in the band insisted on writing songs for the new album, they had opinions on the arrangements, they wanted to sing. They went as far as adding background vocals to ‘Proud Mary,’ and it sounded awful. They used tambourines, and it sounded no better….. Now we had to make the best possible album and it wasn’t important who did what, as long as the result was the very best we could achieve. And of course I was the one who should do it.”

The only cover, ‘Good Golly, Miss Molly’ is fun, but it’s a light-hearted throwaway next to the Fogerty’s best work. The best-known songs, ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Born On The Bayou’, are the most substantial, but the fun blues of ‘Penthouse Pauper’ make up a solid album track. There are a couple of longer songs that finish each side of the original LP – the loping groove of ‘Graveyard Train’ outstays its welcome, but ‘Keep On Choogling’ is energetic with Fogerty’s stinging guitar.

The band are generally still too reliant on blues forms for Bayou Country to be their best work, but it’s consistently enjoyable and another step forward for the band.

Green River


1969, 8/10
In much the same way that Bayou Country built on their debut, Green River is another step forward for the band, as they outgrow the bluesy boogie that they started the career with. A hint of country starts to drift in, and the most obvious development is the inclusion of acoustic textures – notably ‘Wrote A Song For Everyone’ and ‘Lodi’ are both based around acoustic guitar.

And each album, the complement of Fogerty written originals grows stronger – ‘Bad Moon Rising’ is perhaps the best known, with its combination of upbeat music and doomsday lyrics, but there’s also the swampy grind of the title track and the acoustic despair of ‘Lodi’.

Some of the blues-based material, like ‘Tombstone Shadow’, is a little dispensable, and the album ends meekly, but Green River was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best album yet, as their rapid development continued.

Willy and the Poor Boys


1969, 9/10
Willy and the Poor Boys marks the point where Creedence Clearwater Revival were no longer primarily a blues band – it’s still part of their DNA, but there’s also a big dollop of country twang.  With their albums no longer weighed down by a couple of predictable blues jams, they moved into their most vibrant, consistent era. And on Willy and the Poor Boys, John Fogerty songs have taken another step forward as he moves away from blues conventions.

The album’s title comes from the irresistible funky groove of ‘Down On The Corner’, while ‘Fortunate Son’ is a savage political rocker. ‘Effigy’ closes the album with a long, dark tale, that criticises, rather than romanticises, the American South. The two brief instrumentals are the album’s weak point, and ‘Feelin’ Blue’ is a little drawn out, but none of them diminishes the impact of Willy and the Poor Boys as a fast-paced, fun record. The two covers, of ‘Midnight Special’ and ‘Cotton Fields’, are both fun, while there are hidden Fogerty gems in the raucous ‘It Came Out Of The Sky’ and ‘Don’t Look Now’.

With lots of energy and lots of great Fogerty songs, Willy and the Poor Boys is yet another building block for Creedence, and they’d peak with their next record.

Cosmo’s Factory


1970, 9.5/10
Creedence Clearwater Revival peaked on Cosmo’s Factory – all of the songs bear the distinctive Creedence Clearwater Revival sound, but there’s just the right amount of diversity. ‘Up Around The Bend’ is arguably the heaviest song they recorded, ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ is jangly folk-rock,  and the closing ‘As Long As I Can See The Light’ is beautiful and gentle, while they still retain their bluesy roots with material like ‘Before You Accuse Me’.  It’s similar in feel to Willy and the Poor Boys, but there’s little throwaway material.

Indeed, Cosmo’s Factory is so packed with terrific songs that it feels like a greatest hits – you’ll probably know half of these songs from classic hits radio, like ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, ‘Up Around The Bend’, ‘Looking Out My Back Door’, ‘Run Through The Jungle’, and the epic cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’. The album tracks are all super solid as well – the opening ‘Ramble Tamble’ has a hypnotic groove, while ‘Ooby Dooby’ and ‘Travellin’ Band’ are propelled by raw energy.

Cosmo’s Factory was the peak that Creedence Clearwater Revival had been building towards. After this, it felt like group in-fighting took its toll and that John Fogerty’s wellspring of songs was depleted.



1970, 6.5/10
While the previous Creedence Clearwater Revival albums felt like a measured progression from a straightforward swamp boogie outfit to a classic rock hits machine, 1970’s Pendulum is markedly different. It’s much more sonically expansive – not surprising for an album where the songs weren’t written in advance, and the band spent more time in the studio. The result of more studio time means the instrumental mixes are fuller – they use plenty of organ, which gives them a 1960s soul feel on songs like ‘Born To Move’

But song for song, Pendulum is weaker than any of their previous records. It features the well-loved ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’, but the other single, the rocker ‘Hey Tonight’ feels a little perfunctory. The bluesy opener ‘Pagan Baby’ is one of the album’s best songs and it’s one of the few songs from the albums that feels like it could have come from a previous Creedence Clearwater Revival record.

Tom Fogerty quit the band in frustration at not having his songs used after Pendulum, but the rest of the band held on for one more album.

Mardi Gras


1972, 3.5/10
Tom Fogerty left Creedence Clearwater Revival after not being allowed enough creative input. In a fit of pique, John Fogerty demanded that the two other remaining members contribute material and vocals to Mardi Gras. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford are a great rhythm section but aren’t great frontmen – Cook’s an almost passable minor league Fogerty, but Clifford struggles. Mardi Gras was out of print for years, and it has a terrible reputation.

Despite the album’s issues – Clifford and Cook’s material ranges from forgettable to awful, and the running time is a skimpy 28 minutes – it’s not a serious contender for the worst of all time. There are solid Fogerty tracks – ‘Sweet Hitchhiker’ is as heavy as CCR ever got, while ‘Someday Never Comes’ is pretty. There’s a cover of ‘Hello, Mary Lou’ with Fogerty on lead, and Cook’s ‘Take It Like A Friend’ is a decent facsimile of CCR’s signature style.

Mardi Gras was bad enough to spell the end for CCR – the band quietly split shortly after its release – but I’ve heard worse.

Ten Favourite Creedence Clearwater Revival Songs

Up Around The Bend
Down On The Corner
Lookin’ Out My Back Door
Fortunate Son
It Came Out Of The Sky
Proud Mary
Who’ll Stop The Rain
Wrote A Song For Everyone
Ramble Tamble
Pagan Baby

Back to 1960s album reviews…..

Cincinnati Babyhead says:
(CCR) Susie Q started it for CB. ‘Put a Spell on You’ is a beauty. CCR knew how to cover other peoples songs. Like you said this was an alternative to the music that was in back then. Fogerty’s guitar does it for me.

(Bayou Country) ‘Born on the Bayou’ opens this album perfectly. Penthouse Pauper is an example of why I love this band. Their version of Little Richards ‘Molly’ is another case of doing great work on other peoples songs.

(Green River) The love continues. I just did a take on this one for a reason, it is a fave like most of their albums.

(Pendulum) The sax for CB on Molina is worth it.


  1. Your top ten creedence songs would be very similar to one that I would make. which is amazing when you consider how many good ones there are to choose from. Very sharp to include Ramble Tamble and Pagan Baby. I would too. But I’d replace Who’ll Stop The Rain with their other rain song, Have you Ever Seen the Rain. Heh heh. Also, 2 songs from Mardi Gras, Someday Never Comes and Sweet Hitchhiker, are among my very favorites.

    • I like Have You Ever Seen The Rain a lot actually – only just missed out. I like those Mardi Gras songs, but they’re not quite there with his best stuff for me.

  2. “Someday Never Comes” was poignant to me as the song faded out…it was the beginning of John Fogerty walking into the darkness. I knew much of the light was gone. John, if you can hear me now…record “The Long Black Veil” with dobro, mandolin, and your talented kids. I want to hear them sing too.

Leave a Reply

More from Aphoristic Album Reviews

Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person.

Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate both Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Based in Fleet Street (New Zealand), he's been writing this blog since around 2000. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

Review Pages

Read about the discographies of musical acts from the 1960s to the present day. Browse this site's review archives or enjoy these random selections:

Radiohead Kid A
Radiohead Album Reviews

Named after a Talking Heads song, Radiohead are the most critically acclaimed band to emerge in the 1990s. They convened informally in 1986 as teenagers while attending Abingdon School in Oxford, and were originally known as On A Friday. Front-man Thom Yorke infuses his gorgeous voice with his neuroses, while the […]
Janelle Monáe Album Reviews

Janelle Monáe Robinson is an intimidatingly talented auteur. As a musician, she’s a capable singer, rapper, songwriter, producer, and dancer, as well as a record label owner. She also makes conceptual albums; her first EP and albums are based around her android alter-ego Cindi Mayweather, while she has a distinctive […]
Tiny Ruins Album Reviews

Introduction New Zealand is presently enjoying a strong crop of female singer-songwriters. Along with Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins, we also have the weirdness of Aldous Harding and the imagery-laden writing of Nadia Reid. Pop superstar Lorde isn’t a singer-songwriter but shares the introspection of her contemporaries. Hollie Fullbrook was born in England […]
Jeff Buckley Grace
Jeff Buckley Album Reviews

It’s not an overstatement that Jeff Buckley was one of the most singularly talented musicians of his generation; blessed with a beautiful and athletic voice, a more than adequate guitar technique and an ability to write songs that escaped from predictable verse/chorus patterns while remaining accessible. Additionally, Buckley is also emotionally […]
Ween The Mollusk
Ween Album Reviews

It’s tempting to write Ween off as a novelty band – their biggest hit single, ‘Push th’ Little Daisies’, is gimmicky and stoned. But lurking beneath all the silliness is an ace duo who are students of popular music, with the imagination and songwriting skills to affectionately pay homage to or […]
Richard X. Heyman

Richard X. Heyman started his career as a backing musician, drumming for Brian Wilson, Link Wray, and Jonathan Richman, and playing keyboards for Ben E King. A one man band, his work is tougher than early solo Paul McCartney and not as experimental as early Todd Rundgren, and more retrogressive […]

Blog Posts

I add new blog posts to this website every week. Browse the archives or enjoy these random selections:

Wilco The Album
Wilco: Five Best Albums

When Uncle Tupelo split up after 1993’s Anodyne, guitarist and primary song-writer Jay Farrar seemed the best bet for a successful career with his new act Son Volt. But Jeff Tweedy formed Wilco with the remnants of Uncle Tupelo – bassist John Stirratt, drummer Ken Coomer, and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston. After […]
The Band Music From Big Pink
10 Best Songs by The Band

The Band started their career backing blues belter Ronnie Hawkins, where they were known as The Hawks. They then supported Bob Dylan on his controversial 1966 tour. Recording The Basement Tapes with Dylan at Woodstock, The Band started writing their own material. Their 1968 debut, Music from Big Pink was […]
Tom Waits Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best

California’s Tom Waits has enjoyed a remarkable career. Emerging in the early 1970s as a whisky-soaked, piano-playing balladeer, his career was seemingly petering out in the early 1980s. But he reinvented himself with the junkyard clang of 1983’s excellent Swordfishtrombones, and his output from that album through to 1999’s Mule […]
Asterix Books: Ranked from Worst to Best

The Gaulish warrior Asterix has been a French institution since he first appeared in 1961’s Asterix the Gaul. He’s accompanied by his inseparable friend Obelix and aided by the druid Getafix’s magic potion that gives superhuman strength. His cunning defends his Gaulish village from Romans, Vikings, and even aliens. Three […]
10 Best Jeff Buckley Songs

Jeff Buckley is best known for his sensitive reading of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. It’s well done, but taken alone it undersells Buckley’s immense talents. Far more than a crooner, he was also a talented guitarist and a sophisticated songwriter – other artists were capable of a lovely cover of ‘Hallelujah’, […]
Tom Waits Heart of Saturday Night
10 Best Tom Waits Songs

California’s Tom Waits is effectively the patron saint of this website. My Waits album ranking was the first post from this site to become popular, and it’s still one of its most-visited posts. With recently accounted reissues of Waits’ peak albums, it feels like a good time to make a […]
%d bloggers like this: