Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Creedence Clearwater Revival

  • Willy and the Poorboys [Fantasy, 1969] A+
  • Cosmo's Factory [Fantasy, 1970] A
  • Pendulum [Fantasy, 1970] A-
  • Mardi Gras [Fantasy, 1972] B
  • Creedence Gold [Fantasy, 1972] B+
  • More Creedence Gold [Fantasy, 1973] B
  • Chronicle [Fantasy, 1976] A
  • The Royal Albert Hall Concert [Fantasy, 1980] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Willy and the Poorboys [Fantasy, 1969]
Somehow I have never bothered to state my almost unqualified admiration for John Fogerty. Creedence's ecumenical achievement is almost unbelievable: this is the only group since the Beatles and the Stones to turn out hit after hit without losing any but the most perverse hip music snobs. With this in mind, Fogerty's subtlety as a political songwriter (have you ever really dug the words of "Fortunate Son"?) comes as no surprise. This is everything a good rock album should be--the best they've done yet, I think. A+

Cosmo's Factory [Fantasy, 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 Willy 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 "Suzie Q"'s artless concept of rock improvisation, and "Lookin' Out My Back Door," in which Fogerty abandons his gritty timbre--so obviously an affectation, yet so natural-seeming--for a near-tenor that sweetly synthesizes spirituality and whimsy. A

Pendulum [Fantasy, 1970]
"Molina" and "Pagan Baby," which make Creedence history as the first John Fogerty songs about women, are slightly subpar, "Sailor's Lament" is a little more so, and the Booker T. cum Terry Riley organ doodle on "Rude Awakening #2" is a pretentious moment I hope--and expect--he has the sense never to repeat. The rest is six songs so superpar Steve Barri or Tommy James would kill (or least steal) for them. Ho hum, another Creedence album. A-

Mardi Gras [Fantasy, 1972]
For a while I forgot my John Fogerty fixation and enjoyed side two of this country-rock debut, which is what asking Stu Cook and Doug Clifford to sing and compose transforms the seventh Creedence album into. But facts are facts. Only "Sweet Hitch-Hiker," an original as unambitious as the equally effecting cover of "Hello Mary Lou," could stand on any of Creedence's great albums. "Lookin' for a Reason" and "Someday Never Comes" may be major songs, but it's hard to tell from the way Fogerty sings them. And only inspired Fogerty vocals might save C&C's competent-plus to competent-minus filler from a lifetime in Lodi. B

Creedence Gold [Fantasy, 1972]
Not the singles compilation they've earned, just cuts off all their gold albums--that is, a ripoff. But their style has always been more consistent than their albums (a compliment to their style, not an insult to their albums), and this is literally very playable. B+

More Creedence Gold [Fantasy, 1973]
More Creedence Gold, or rather, less. B

Chronicle [Fantasy, 1976]
Al Green is the only other artist of the post-Pepper era to make great albums while scoring consistently on the singles charts, and like Green, Creedence is worth owning in a more public and archival configuration. Fifteen of these twenty songs went top ten, and this is where anyone who snorts at the notion that Creedence was the greatest American rock and roll band should start. Then go back and catch up with the more "obscure" stuff. A

The Royal Albert Hall Concert [Fantasy, 1980]
No devotee of live albums by anybody, much less by guys who come out and recreate their studio renditions of songs and choogles conceived in Lodi, I do hereby certify that this one, said to be a newly discovered 1970 tape, is tighter and more explosive than the flaccid Live in Europe double of their breakup's afterglow. I also acknowledge that after three or four years with bands who want nothing so much as to finance studio renditions of songs and explosions conceived in lower Manhattan, I've learned to enjoy the form. Just make sure you get the studio renditions first. B

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