7/16/70: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory
The year 1970 is exactly in the middle of my favorite ten-year stretch of rock music. When I think of the “biggest” bands or my absolute favorite albums and bands from roughly ’69-’71, admittedly CCR is not the first to pop into my mind. Until a couple of years ago they’d always been a greatest hits band in my mind (and collection) – a very good one, but one whose full albums I hadn’t paid much attention to. Yet, is there really much argument against the opinion that CCR and their album Cosmo’s Factory – released on this day 50 years ago – don’t form part of the core of what makes rock music from that era great?
The album’s title came from the converted warehouse where the band was known to relentlessly rehearse (drummer Doug Clifford’s nickname is “Cosmo”), and was rather amazingly the band’s fifth album in two years. It is loaded with hits. Cosmo’s Factory spawned three highly rated double A-sided singles. Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop the Rain each reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, Run Through the Jungle/Up Around the Bend reached two and four, respectively, and Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long as I Can See the Light both climbed to number two. By December it was certified gold, and twenty years later 4 x platinum.
CCR weren’t known for creating the most diverse soundscapes. Their niche was straight-forward guitar-driven rock. That is to say, a (swampy) goulash of R&B, country, soul, blues, and rockabilly. Yet their sound is very distinctive. Perhaps it’s their stripped down, no frills brand of rock and roll – not unlike that of The Band and the Grateful Dead beginning with Workingman’s… – that was a major part of their appeal at the tail end of the psychedelic era.
One of my personal favorites on this album is Ramble Tamble, which leads off. It starts off in a rockabilly vein before a sudden turn two minutes in to a heavy, post-psychedelic instrumental for four minutes before returning to the original tune. The original Rolling Stone review refers to this track as “unsatisfying.” Pfft. Run Through the Jungle is as close to the Mekong Delta in 1970 as I’d want to be (though it was great to visit in 2000) – a great track. Their eleven minute version of Heard it Through the Grapevine might be considered monotonous to some, but it’s a groove I can get locked into. Travelin’ Band is always a fun two-minute adrenaline rush, and lastly, Long as I Can See the Light is a perfect, soulful ending to a classic album with no real weak links.
- Ramble Tamble
- Before You Accuse Me
- Travelin’ Band
- Ooby Dooby
- Lookin’ Out My Back Door
- Run Through the Jungle
- Up Around the Bend
- My Baby Left Me
- Who’ll Stop the Rain
- I Heard it Through the Grapevine
- Long as I Can See the Light