Released in 1970, Cosmo’s Factory Creedence Clearwater Revivals fifth studio album at first glance appears as somewhat of a greatest hits collection, with many of the bands most well known songs appearing on this album. But as an album it really is more than just a collection of hits and to me represents a journey through the music of America whether it be rock and roll, country, or roots rock. The array of styles on display on this album shows off the uniqueness of CCR and how their music is an eclectic blend of American music styles, something that in itself is significant considering that at the time many American acts were more influenced by the drugs they were taking than paying homage to the music of their homeland.
The songs on Cosmo’s Factory stick primarily to the heavily charged roots rock feel the band were famous for and are based largely around the traditional formula of guitar, bass, and drums. This means the ragged almost grungy-like lead guitar of John Fogerty, as well as the gigantic sound produced by the rhythm section of Doug Clifford on drums and Stu Cook on bass, two very underrated players I must say. Vocally, Fogerty is on fire throughout the album mixing up his delivery between that famous raucous Southern gravel of his on songs such as “Ramble Tamble”, and a slower but still hard edged vocal on songs such as the classic “Long as I Can See the Light”. It was this ability he had to move between faster and slower numbers but yet still retain that Southern feel to his voice that made him so distinct and recognisable as a singer, and ensured he became one of the most popular vocalists of the late-60s period.
Another feature that came to the fore on this album was Fogerty’s strength as a songwriter; something that I guess has been often overlooked. Just some of the subjects he touches on include a parade passing by on “Looking Out My Back Door” a supposed drug song that was actually written for his son, and gun proliferation in the US on “Run Through The Jungle” which in itself has been mistaken as an anti-Vietnam war anthem. In my opinion Fogerty’s calibre as a songwriter should not be ignored and is certainly worth a mention especially when you consider he wrote many of the anthemic songs of the 60s.
One minor criticism I have of this album is of the cover songs, which seem weaker in quality compared to the other very good original tracks. One of these covers includes the eleven minute meandering version of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. Why the band did not put the single edit version of this song on here instead is beyond me as I feel they do a good job on this song. However eleven minutes is too long and the extended jamming that goes on, on the studio album version appears to me like a band going through the motions remembering also that this is a time when long endless jamming and solos began to seep into rock music sometimes to the point of absolute boredom for the listener. But this is only a minor irritant that is made up for by the outstanding original tracks which Fogerty serves up.
Cosmo’s Factory as an album is probably the archetypal, quintessential CCR album and to me best represents their unique take on traditional American music styles. It has also been viewed as arguably their best album critically and certainly their most successful commercially, topping the charts in six different countries. In conclusion then, if you are after something of CCRs other than a greatest hits compilation then this is the album for you. The well known songs are still there, but there are also a couple of lesser tracks which are just as good quality-wise to some of the hits in turn equalling a great early-seventies album.