Saturday, July 9, 2011

The #32 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era: "Cosmo's Factory" by CCR

When you realize that Creedence Clearwater Revival had 20 hits from just seven albums in just four years, that should spark some amazement.  These weren't just minor hits; nearly every one of those is still played on the radio 40 years later.  Two things are especially clear--1) the supergroup put out an incredible amount of great material in a short time and 2) their albums must be pretty darn good.

It is there that we pick up with the Top 100 Albums of the Rock Era* Pendulum, Bayou Country, Willy and the Poorboys and Green River just missed the Top 100*, but CCR's best album Cosmo's Factory lands right here at #32.  On the strength of a never-ending flow of singles that kept the album fresh and first and foremost in listener's minds, Cosmo's Factory moved from 14-3 on the album chart in its second week and rose to #1 three weeks later.  The album then remained there for nine weeks.  They spent three weeks at #2 and two at #3.  As the competition was fierce in those days, it was tough to keep an album in the Top 10 for a substantial length of time so 19 weeks was a good number.  Never make the mistake some rating services do of merely comparing the numbers, you must also look at competition. 

Keep in mind that Woodstock was still the buzz and the Soundtrack to that monumental event was out at the same time as Cosmo's Factory.  Other albums were the incredible Deja Vu from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young that we've already paid homage to in The Top 100 Albums* at #65 and yet another contender was Tommy from the Who.  CCR spent a total of 88 weeks on the chart with this album, which has sold four million copies to date.  Many people bought the compilation album Chronicle which contains all of the hits from this album instead of getting Cosmo's.  They should have bought Cosmo's Factory, for they get far more from CCR at their peak. 

Simply put, it's an incredible album.  Again, how does a group put so many great songs on one studio album?  The Track Rating* of 9.41 is through the roof.  And it's no wonder, with six hit songs.  At the time, Creedence was one of the only ones besides the Beatles that could pull off double-sided hits, which meant that radio stations turned over the 45's and played the "B-sides" as well, making them hits in addition to the single.  This happened three consecutive times with this album.  "Travelin' Band" (#2 for two weeks) was the first release, but the B side "Who'll Stop the Rain" became a huge hit as well.  "Up Around the Bend" was a Top Five smash, but "Run Through the Jungle" enjoyed the ride up the charts as well.  The third single was "Looking Out My Back Door", but "Long as I Can See the Light" also received enough airplay to be included on the singles chart.  It is probably a testament to the overwhelming popularity of this group that 39 years later, "Long as I Can See the Light" was the song chosen to play over the closing credits of the great movie "State of Play".  The songs I have just mentioned provided ample airplay that are a big factor for Cosmo's Factory being included in The Top 100*.

But none of those statistics would have place it at #32; it needed more than radio airplay and chart numbers.  As CCR fans know, the album contains incredible tracks that radio missed the boat on--like "Ramble Tamble" and "Before You Accuse Me", which highlight the group's talent by switching to blues without missing a beat.  "Ooby Dooby" became one of the group's most requested concert numbers, making that first side an absolute out-of-the ballpark winner.  And, "My Baby Left Me", which too is a great song, is the only non-hit on the second side that gives you 11 minutes of pure rock and roll joy on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine".  I love Marvin Gaye's music and he had a huge hit with the song but I can tell you being in the business that CCR had the more popular hit on this one. 

 If you just listen to radio as a backdrop, not really listening, you know CCR songs are good but when you listen carefully, you can hear the talent, the incredible talent of the band.  The group shines on this album, especially John Fogerty on guitar and vocals and drummer Doug Clifford (hard to top "Travelin' Band"!).  I never had the good fortune to be able to see them live and I will always regret it because I'm told they were one of the best live bands in history.

The album got its name from the Berkeley warehouse where the group rehearsed.  Fogerty was so insistent upon working every day that drummer "Cosmo" Clifford began calling the place "the factory".  Cosmo's Factory reached #1 in six countries (Australia, Canada, France, Norway, the U.S. and U.K.). 

Cosmo's Factory:
(All songs by J.C. Fogerty unless otherwise noted.)

Side one
1.  "Ramble Tamble" --7:09
2.  "Before You Accuse Me" (Ellas McDaniel) --3:24
3.  "Travelin' Band" --2:07
4.  "Ooby Dooby" (Wade Moore, Dick Penner) --2:05
5.  "Lookin' Out My Back Door" --2:31
6.  "Run Through the Jungle" --3:09

Side two
1.  "Up Around the Bend" --2:40'
2.  "My Baby Left Me" (Arthur Crudup) --2:17
3.  "Who'll Stop the Rain" --2:28
4.  "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong) --11:05
5.  "Long as I Can See the Light" --3:33

CCR was in the company of a few select supergroups (Beatles and Led Zeppelin) that never changed members. What you saw was what you got and this band had "it". John Fogerty played guitar, piano, saxophone, harmonica, sang lead vocals and was the producer and arranger of the album. Of course Doug Clifford on drums, Stu Cook played a solid bass and John's brother Tom played rhythm guitar for the group. The group had no guest musicians or "songs featuring so-and-so"; they were good enough to achieve the sound by themselves.

Russ Gary was the engineer while Bob Fogerty provided cover art, design and photography. Cosmo's Factory was recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, California from 1969-1970. It was released in July of 1970 on Fantasy Records.

And this great accomplishment is next in The Top 100 Albums at #32--Creedence Clearwater Revival's Cosmo's Factory.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.