July 16 – Cosmo’s Factory Hits 50

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?

CCR 1970 – Bravo Posters

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.

CCR - They Really Did Get To Woodstock - uDiscover

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.


Side One:

  1. Ramble Tamble
  2. Before You Accuse Me
  3. Travelin’ Band
  4. Ooby Dooby
  5. Lookin’ Out My Back Door
  6. Run Through the Jungle

Side Two:

  1. Up Around the Bend
  2. My Baby Left Me
  3. Who’ll Stop the Rain
  4. I Heard it Through the Grapevine
  5. Long as I Can See the Light



Cosmo’s Factory


January 5 – Creedence Swampwater Revival?

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country

CCR released their second album, Bayou Country, on this date fifty years ago. It was the first of three albums released by the band during a frenetic 1969. They’d finally made a name for themselves as CCR after struggling for a few years under the monikers the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs.


At 23, John Fogerty wrote the songs while staring a blank wall in his apartment – his blank canvass as he described it. He also arranged and produced the album, and as Ray Rezos said in a contemporary Rolling Stone review, “He probably swept out the studio when the recording was finished, too.” This was the source of a great deal of friction within the band as Fogerty assumed control while the others – rhythm guitarist and John’s brother, Tom, bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford – felt their contributions stymied or not credited. (I’m not an invested-enough CCR fan to have an opinion on their intragroup politics either way, other than to say that this was a rather amazingly productive and successful run of albums, so they must’ve been doing something right.)

Proud Mary was the album’s hit, reaching #2 on the singles chart. Born on the Bayou was a culmination of any and all information Fogerty had gleaned from books and movies (Swamp Fever being a big inspiration) – he was a Northern California native who had never actually lived on a bayou. (For more on this great track, see badfinger20’s write-up here.)


There’s a simplicity to CCR’s music which is alluring in its own right. There’s always a place for it in the sometimes overindulged world of rock music. I’ve always respected bands with an uncomplicated yet distinct sound.  CCR’s music that I like the most, I really like. Born on the Bayou stands among the band’s best tracks on any of their albums, and one of the best overall by anyone in 1969. Penthouse Pauper is relatively short, sweet, and crunchy – like a bowl of Cocoa Puffs I might chow on while listening to it late at night. Proud Mary is an obvious plus, though I think Ike and Tina made it their own (not to mention it’s been classic rock radioed to death). I even like their take on Little Richard’s Good Golly Miss Molly. But some of their music, while not bad, I find a little tedious with the simplicity a detriment. Graveyard Train, the longest song on the album, would be my example here.


I’ve no doubt that most if not all of these songs would’ve been incredible in a live setting. Keep On Chooglin’, the second longest track on the record and probably my second favorite – at the end of a crazy night at the Fillmore would’ve been fun to experience. And yes, as I write this I’m aware of the irony of my assessments of Graveyard and Chooglin’. One listener’s tedium is another’s toe-tappin’ groovefest. Alas, I’ll just have to settle for assigning it to my imagination.


Side One:

  1. Born on the Bayou
  2. Bootleg
  3. Graveyard Train

Side Two:

  1. Good Golly, Miss Molly
  2. Penthouse Pauper
  3. Proud Mary
  4. Keep on Chooglin’