Cosmo's Factory (1970) Pendulum (1970)
Label Fantasy Records
Release date 25 July 1970
Producer John Fogerty
|Released July 16, 1970 (1970-07-16)|
Studio Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, California
Artist Creedence Clearwater Revival
Genres Rock music, Blues rock, Country rock, Southern rock, Roots rock
Similar Creedence Clearwater Revival albums, Rock music albums
Cosmo's Factory is the fifth studio album by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), released by Fantasy Records in July 1970, and released as Fantasy 8402 - the same month as the single release of "Lookin' Out My Back Door" with "Long as I Can See the Light" on the B side. The name of the album comes from the warehouse in Berkeley where the band rehearsed early in their career. It was dubbed "The Factory" by drummer Doug "Cosmo" Clifford, because bandleader John Fogerty made them practice there almost every day.
With the release of Cosmo's Factory in July 1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival hit their commercial zenith. It was their fifth album in two years and became an international smash, topping the album charts in six countries. The band also toured Europe in 1970, playing the Royal Albert Hall to enthusiastic audiences, and had emerged as the most popular band in America by largely ignoring the trippy acid rock indulgences that were typical of the era. However, despite the band's infectious blend of rockabilly, folk, and R&B, some peers and rock critics dismissed them as a singles band with no substance. In a 2012 cover story, Uncut observed, "While San Francisco longhairs across the bridge scoffed at their commercialism, Creedence henceforth made a point of releasing double A-sides. And invariably both songs would have an uncanny knack of cutting through to all sections of the population." Singer and guitarist Fogerty, who had seemingly arrived out of nowhere, but had actually struggled with his bandmates throughout most of the '60s as the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs, composed the group's songs and generally steered the band artistically, although his grip on the band - including his dubious role as manager - irritated the others, especially his older brother Tom Fogerty, who left the band by the end of 1970.
Perhaps more than any other CCR album, Cosmo's Factory displays the wide range of musical ingredients that provided the foundation for their "swamp rock" sound: R&B ("Before You Accuse Me", "My Baby Left Me"), soul ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine", "Long As I Can See the Light"), country ("Lookin' Out My Back Door"), rockabilly and classic rock and roll ("Ooby Dooby", "Travelin' Band"), and psychedelia ("Ramble Tamble").
The manic "Travelin' Band" was inspired by 1950s rock 'n' roll songs, particularly those by Little Richard. In October 1972, the company that held the publishing rights to Richard’s "Good Golly, Miss Molly" felt that "Travelin' Band" bore enough similarities to warrant a plagiarism lawsuit that was later settled out of court. The lyrics of the song describe what life is like for a musician on the road, something the band knew about all too well. The song's flip side, "Who'll Stop the Rain", could not have been more different, with Fogerty telling Uncut's Tom Pinnock in 2012, "'Travelin’ Band' was my salute to Little Richard, but 'Who’ll Stop The Rain?' was part of the fabric of the times. From ’68 to ’74, Vietnam was probably the most important thing on the minds of young people." The menacing "Run Through the Jungle" mined similar territory, with many listeners inevitably believing the lyrics to be about the war. According to the band's bassist Stu Cook, the song's opening and closing both featured jungle sound effects created by "lots of backwards recorded guitar and piano." The harmonica part on the song was played by John Fogerty. The song was also rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty’s favorite CCR song: "My all-time favorite Creedence tune was 'Run Through the Jungle'...It’s like a little movie in itself with all the sound effects. It never changes key, but it holds your interest the whole time. It’s like a musician’s dream. It never changes key, yet you get the illusion it does."
"Lookin' Out My Back Door" was a direct tribute to the Bakersfield Sound, a form of music that influenced John Fogerty and the Creedence sound. Buck Owens, one of the architects of the Bakersfield Sound, is even mentioned in the song's lyrics. The song is known for its upbeat tempo, its down-home feel, and a signature change in key and tempo towards the end. The song's lyrics, filled with colorful, dream-like imagery, led some to believe that the song was about drugs; according to the drug theory, the "flying spoon" in the song was a cocaine spoon, and the crazy animal images were an acid trip. Fogerty, however, has repeatedly stated in interviews that the song was actually written for his then three-year-old son, Josh. Fogerty has also said that the reference to a parade passing by was inspired by the Dr. Seuss book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
Although CCR was well known for their concise, tightly arranged songs, Cosmo's Factory features two longer cuts: the seven-minute opener "Ramble Tamble" and the 11-minute cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". "Each album had a longish track on it, but they were never jams, per se," Cook explained to Bill Kopp of musoscribe.com. "'Heard It Through the Grapevine' had a little jammy character to it, but they were all pretty structured. There was no space to noodle. Live, there was a little bit of noodling, but in the studio we always tried to nail the arrangement." Although CCR had dabbled with psychedelia on their debut single "Susie Q", the storming "Ramble Tamble" is more ambitious; the song begins with the band roaring through a rockabilly introduction, featuring Fogerty's fiery guitar licks and blistering vocals, before transitioning into a psychedelic wall of sound that lasts nearly five minutes. The song transitions back into the original rockabilly section at its conclusion. The song has been singled out for critical praise, with music journalist Steven Hyden calling it "the most rockin' song of all time". Several other songs pay tribute to the band's blues and rock and roll roots, including Big Arthur Crudup's "My Baby Left Me", Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me", and the rockabilly classic "Ooby Dooby". The album closes with the soulfully optimistic "Long as I Can See the Light".
In January 1970, the double A-sided single, "Travelin' Band"/"Who'll Stop the Rain", peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. In April, the band released their next double-sided single, "Run Through the Jungle"/"Up Around the Bend", which reached number four and number two on the Hot 100, respectively, and started their first tour of Europe. Cosmo's Factory was released in July 1970, and their ninth single "Lookin' Out My Back Door"/"Long as I Can See the Light", both of which reached number two on the Hot 100. The album was certified gold (500,000 units sold) by the Recording Industry Association of America on December 16, 1970. Almost 20 years later, on December 13, 1990, it received a certification of four times platinum with sales over four million copies.
The album cover for Cosmo's Factory is one of the most memorable of the era, largely for its unpretentious quality. As David Cavanagh of Uncut wrote in 2012, "The album's front cover showed the four of them caught by a camera in an off-duty moment, a proudly uncool quartet who looked more like lumberjacks than rock stars." In 2013, Doug Clifford recalled to Goldmine, "John knew the press would be all over us for the album, so he said that he would name the album after me and that I would have to deal with it. He wanted the pressure off of him. It was our biggest album ever and I tell people that they named it after me, so it had to be a hit [laughter]. That’s a joke!"
In its original review, Rolling Stone opined, "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." AllMusic states, "On 'Long as I Can See the Light', the record's final song, he again finds solace in home, anchored by a soulful, laid-back groove. It hits a comforting, elegiac note, the perfect way to draw 'Cosmo's Factory' - an album made during stress and chaos, filled with raging rockers, covers, and intense jams - to a close." Amazon.com calls the album "the peak of a prolific streak."
All tracks written by John Fogerty, except where noted.
Note: All tracks recorded June 1970, except for † recorded March 1970 and ‡ recorded late 1969.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 265 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
2Before You Accuse Me3:27