Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cosmo's Factory - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Cosmo's Factory - Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970)
Rating: 14
"Put a candle in the window / For I feel I've got to move"
Best Song: I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Worst Song: Ooby Dooby
        Hoo this, my dear readers, is one heck of an album. That "14" you see up there could easily be a "15", but my better judgment tells me no. Still, this is one of the greatest "pure rock" records ever made, chock full of great little three minute ditties that are always long enough to where they feel substantial (unlike, say, The Undertones or The Ramones), but never drag out for longer than a few minutes (with a few exceptions). Every song on here has several great melodic ideas, and every song is fantastic in its own special way. No fancy-schmancy art rock here, folks. Just good, old-fashioned rock 'n' roll...heck, I wouldn't hesitate to call it rockabilly, for that matter. But let's forget genres and take a look at some of these songs, eh?
        I must say that the worst songs on this record are the three 50s covers. Sure, the worst songs on this record beat the crap out of the best songs on many other records, but for the sake of objectivism, I feel the need to point this out. The worst of these covers is their version of Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby". It's completely harmless, catchy, and short, but it's just a bit generic for my tastes. The other covers are of Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me" and Elvis's "My Baby Left Me" which are both fine, but a little forgettable. However, while the 50s covers may be just so-so, the sole cover of a song from the 60s ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine) is ASTOUNDINGLY good. Seriously. Heck, I like it better than Marvin Gaye's version, if that says anything. Oh, and did I mention that it's 11 minutes long? Oh, I didn't? Well, it's 11 minutes long. You see, Fogerty sings for about 3 minutes, then there's an approximately 2 minute solo. After that, there's one more repetition of the chorus, and then it begins: 5 minutes of intoxicating soloing. And no, this isn't live Zeppelin-esque improvisational wankery. No, this is a completely planned, completely practiced solo that's absolutely mesmerizing in its minimalism. No flashy licks. No dive-bombs. Just great, subtle lines of fantastic solo work. Oh, and the rhythm section's intoxicating as well. Of course, that's mainly because of fantastic bass line that CCR had nothing to do with, but...who cares? It sounds awesome!
        Now, with that out of the way, we can begin looking at the absolutely fabulous originals. Let's see here...we have the lightning-fast, horn driven "Travelin' Band" that's sorta reminiscent of "Fortunate Son", the creepy, threatening "Run Through the Jungle", the intoxicatingly catchy "Up Around the Bend" with that irresistible guitar line that everyone knows, the down-home, happy strumming of "Lookin' Out My Back Door" get the idea. Every song here has a fantastic melody, great guitar playing, and they're all so GOOD! It's just one great song after the other, and the effect is really cool. It's not every day that you find an album with this many fantastic songs on it! 
        There's also the opening, 7 minute "Ramble Tamble" which starts out like a normal CCR rocker, but eventually shifts into a segment that pretty much creates the whole "Simple Man"-esque southern rock power ballad genre in a few short minutes. And then we have the fantastic, tear-jerking finisher "Long As I Can See the Light". Man, what a soulful song. Fogerty sings his heart out, and there's also a saxophone brought in -- to great effect. I can see how someone could be put off by Fogerty's singing here, just really affects me emotionally, and it sounds pretty much perfect to my ears. Oh, and the song works PERFECTLY coming right after "Grapevine", providing a short, gorgeous capstone to the album. What a song. What an album.

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