Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released: July 1970
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 69
Certified Gold: 12/16/70
It should be obvious by now that Creedence Clearwater Revival is one great rock and roll band. Cosmo's Factory, the group's fifth album, is another good reason why.
Four of the eleven cuts have been on previous hit singles; John Fogerty wrote three of the remaining seven, only one of which, "Ramble Tamble," is unsatisfying. Apart from prolific writing, Fogerty's ability to consistently churn out good stuff is largely due to his penchant for rehearsing the band five days a week in a converted warehouse in Berkeley's industrial section. It's doubtless because of this that drummer drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford refers to the group's studio as the factory.
The emphasis is not on modern derivatives but on authentic reproduction of, for example, Roy Orbison's vintage "Ooby Dooby," On "My Baby Left Me" the early-Elvis echo-chamber effect and the old Scotty Moore riffs on lead guitar reveal a considerable amount of careful study of the original. Both cuts hold up very well as straight rockabilly.
"Travelin' Band" qualifies for historical authenticity, even though Fogerty grafts new lyrics onto a modified "Reddy Teddy" melody. He lays down a very credible Little Richard vocal and arrangement, substituting a good tenor shriek for a trademark upper register vibrato. In the absence of machinegun triads on keyboard, he dubs in saxophone -- which he now plays.
Besides saxophone, Fogerty is now learning all the other instruments he's always wanted to play. In addition to lead guitar and vocal on Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me" he drops in some fine blues piano riffs but apparently out of modesty keeps them pretty well buried in an easy-going, traditional statement. Elsewhere he picks dobro on "Lookin' Out My Back Door." Though not geared for a gut-level Creedence treatment, the song is good car music, great for summer and will probably be commercially successful.
Fogerty shows equal facility on "Long As I Can See the Light," a fine composition with more saxophone work and a strong Otis Redding flavor. Released as a single, it could easily end up on soul station play lists, as did "Run Through the Jungle" before it.
It's another damn good album by a group which is going to be around for a long time.
- John Grissom, Rolling Stone, 9/3/70.
Unlike most of the rock reviewers of my acquaintence, I don't get turned on by Creedence Clearwater. A good, tight, well-rehearsed group itis, to be sure, but the calculation and predictability that goes into its music and performances -- principally because of the iron controlling hand of John C. Fogerty -- leaves me as cold as a concert by a German marching band. But, as I write this review, Cosmo's Factory already is comfortably ensconced at the top of the best-selling charts, so who am I to question it? Suffice it to note that three or four of the tunes included here have been issued as singles. You Creedence fans -- and I know you are legion -- might enjoy the eleven-minute version of "I Heart It Through the Grapevine, I thought it would never end.
So here it is: another entry from the most commercially productive musical group to arrive on the scene since the Beatles. But you'll never confuse the two.
- Don Heckman, Stereo Review, 1/71.
From the songbook of one of the most prolific and talented groups around, comes this new and highly enjoyable album. The high standard of lyrical quality and musical coordination which has helped put Creedence Clearwater Revival on the top rungs of the chart ladder is maintained throughout the production, making it another natural winner for the group.
- Billboard, 1970.
A lover of rock and roll, not rock, John Fogerty serves up his progress in modest and reliable doses. The songwriting's not as inspired as on Willie and the Poorboys -- no hidden treasures like "Don't Look Now" or "It Came Out of the Sky." But the sound is fuller, the band more coherent, Fogerty's singing more subtle and assured, so that a straightforward choogle like "Ramble Tamble" holds up simply as music for seven minutes. The same goes for the most ordinary three-minute job here -- finally, none of them are ordinary. The triumphs are "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," which consummates "Susie Q"'s artless concept of rock improvisation, and "Lookin' Out My Back Door," in which Fogerty abandons his gritty timbre -- so obviously an affection, yet so natural-seeming -- for a near-tenor that sweetly synthesizes spirituality and whimsy. A
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
- Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.
"Ramble Tamble" and a masterful version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" may run a little too long, but the remainder of the album is letter-perfect. Pointing out highlights here is useless. Most of these tracks were hits as well. * * * *
- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Author Stephen King thinks Cosmo's Factory is the best rock album ever. He may be right. The group's sixth album finds the band at the peak of its powers on an album crowded with five hit singles, reworkings of first-generation rock gems and an epic eleven-minute workout on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." * * * * *
- Joel Selvin, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
The third classic album that Creedence cranked out in less than a year, after Green River and Willie and the Poor Boys. Highlights: the eleven-minute guitar party "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and the front-porch reverie "Lookin' Out My Back Door."
Cosmo's Factory was chosen as the 265th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
If the late 1960s and early 1970s was a time of psychedelic experimentation, John and Tom Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival preferred authentic, rock 'n' roll, perfectly delivered as the classic pop single. Cosmo's Factory -- named by drummer Doug Clifford after their studio's production-line knack of churning out hits -- contained more hit singles than any of their previous albums, including three Top Five singles: "Travelin' Band," "Up Around The Bend" and "Looking Out My Back Door." The album itself was Number One on both sides of the Atlantic, achieved multi-platinum status, and became Creedence Clearwater Revival's all-time best-seller both in the US (with a 69-week run on the Billboard charts) and worldwide.
Cosmo's Factory also sees the band attempting to look beyond their rock 'n' roll roots. Alongside trusty covers of early hits by Roy Orbison ("Ooby Dooby") and Elvis Presley ("My Baby Left Me"), the band take on Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine," stretching it out to an 11-minute jam.
Internal problems would later see the band implode amid acrimony and legal writs, but for a short time, they led the pack. Doug Clifford and bassist Stu Cook later formed a band called Creedence Clearwater Revisited but after legal action by John Fogerty, were forced to change their name. The new name they chose was Cosmo's Factory.
As of 2004, Cosmo's Factory was the #62 best-selling album of the 70s.
- Hamish Champ, The 100 Best-Selling Albums of the 70s, 2004.
Creedence Clearwater Revival released six essential albums in just two and a half years, all bashed out quick, nothing fancy, just pure and catchy, pop-styled rock 'n' roll. This was their fifth, and it topped the U.S. album charts for nine consecutive weeks.
It is quintessential Creedence. A glorious distillation of their distinctive, Southern-styled mix of choogling swamp boogie and prime, blistering pop. Eschewing the druggy psychedelic excesses of many of their San Francisco peers, the album includes both sides of their three recent hit singles, to which they added covers of songs made famous by Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Bo Diddley -- plus a stubbornly groovesome, extended jam of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." Elsewhere, "Travelin' Band" tips its hat to Little Richard, while Vietnam was the darker source of inspiration for "Who'll Stop The Rain" and "Run Through The Jungle."
John Fogerty, the man with the grittiest, growliest voice in rock 'n' roll, once again dominates: he writes, he produces, and he sings, as well as playing guitar, saxophone, and keyboards. But within the rest of the band, simmering resentments were beginning to boil. This was to be their last major success. The cover shot was taken in their warehouse/office/rehearsal room (at 1230 Fifth Street, Berkeley), a place they had dubbed "Cosmo's Factory." John's brother Tom (who later quit, foreshadowing the end for the band) lies back, resting his feet on a sign that reads, "Lean, clean, and bluesy." A simple recipe for enduring greatness.
- Ross Fortune, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, 2005.
CCR's third great record in less than a year has hits like "Lookin' Out My Back Door" and "Travelin' Band," plus two huge guitar epics: the seven-minute power-choogle "Ramble Tamble" and their cowbell-crazed take on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."
Cosmo's Factory was chosen as the 413th greatest album of all time in a Rolling Stone magazine poll of artists, producers, critics and music industry figures in Oct. 2020.
- Rolling Stone, 10/20.
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