Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cosmo's Factory


 Probably the greatest American 70’s rock album ever !

 Can it really be 40 years ago today that I purchased for my birthday at the princely sum of 39 shillings and 11 pence, the album 'Cosmo's Factory'?  As a choirboy the  singing of John Fogerty, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s front-man simply astounded me.  Not only did he pen the band’s numerous hits, playing  a mean, lean, clean and bluesy lead guitar, but also sang  like some crooning Mississippi swamp bull-frog. It was unknown to me and to most Brit’s probably, that in fact the band hailed from Berkeley, California and  were  not from the south at all, but  were  creating a highly original pastiche, inspired by the music of New Orleans and the bayou swamp lands. In fact their first ‘hit ‘Proud Mary’ alludes to New Orleans.  When Tina Turner covered 'Proud Mary' it regenerated her career.  But what a lot of people don’t know is that  the British band Status Quo's  mega-hit  ‘Rockin’ all over the world’   was also penned by J .C. Fogerty.


Emerging out the late 60’s Creedence  Clearwater played at the swan-song  festival of the 60’s,‘Woodstock’, but because of the over-indulgence of the previous act, Grateful Dead, they didn’t appear on stage until 3 a.m. Not too surprisingly  given the circumstances, the footage of their performances is long lost.

 It’s just the sheer joy of hearing Creedence’s tight, 3 minutes  of feelgood songs with strong melodies which makes them  continue to be one of the most played bands on American radio. The quintessential all-American band, as  American as Mom's apple-pie, they have now sold over 26 million records world-wide. When other bands went for a slick studio production Creedence’s ‘keep it simple’ style ensured that they were as good to hear live as in the studio.

 During their meteoric and short-lived rise to fame CCR spawned number one hit after hit  in America and the UK.  Powered by the driving bass and drums of Stu Cook and Doug Clifford with Tom Fogerty on rhythm guitar CCR became the sound of early 70's American pop-rock. However, a grueling schedule of near non-stop recording sessions and touring meant that the  band did not last long with artistic conflicts between band-members, notably between John and his elder brother Tom Fogerty.

 At first hearing many believe the band’s  2 minute hit-single ‘Travelling Band’  on 'Cosmo's Factory'   to be a 50’s song, but its evidence  of  J.C.Fogerty’s genius to pastiche classic 50’s pop in an updated way. Every track on ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ is a classic.

One of the most amazing rock-guitar solo’s ever occurs on Cosmo’s Factory.  Fogerty, who is easily a guitar virtuoso equal to Carlos Santana or Jimmy Page,  covers Marvin Gaye’s ‘I heard it through the Grapevine' with soulful vocal and blistering guitar solo.  His funky soul-based guitar playing on the track confirms him to be  a musical  adept  of many genres, including country and western,  R 'n' B, pop, rock  and soul music.

I had the pleasure of seeing John Fogerty interviewed on a T.V. chat-show a few years ago.  A modest, soft-spoken, American gentleman, ever the musician-trooper he continues to successfully tour and is popular in  Scandinavian countries.

Tonight  I hope to be celebrating my birthday with  friends and a 1970’s cold war drink, vodka and coke, cranking  up the volume for what is quite simply in my humble opinion, the greatest guitar solo ever  - as heard on the 11 minute studio jam track of Creedence's cover version of ‘I heard it through the Grapevine’.  

Today is the birth-dates of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lewis Carroll and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It is also World Holocaust Memorial Day.
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