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Monday, 11 April 2016

Rewind: CCR's Last Stand (1972)

Mardi Gras - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Fantasy
Produced by Doug Clifford, Stu Cook and John Fogerty
Released 11th April 1972
US Chart #12


Some bands go out in a blaze of glory, others go out in the midst of a terrible mess, such was the case with CCR

On this day in 1972 they released their Seventh and final studio album. It was not an album that gained the love of many, particularly the critics who for once were actually correct in their assessment, Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau deeming it "the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band." 

Years later John Fogerty would tell Rolling Stone, "I figured that Creedence made six albums. Let me count... the first one, Bayou Country, Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys, Cosmo's Factory, Pendulum... yeah, six. I wouldn’t even count Mardi Gras and neither would anybody else. I had no control over anything after that. The rest is horse manure. Baloney."

So what happened?

Well Tom Fogerty had left the band in late 1970 during the recording of Pendulum (though it wasn't made public until February 1971. This was due to younger brother John taking a stand and wanting complete control of the band. Tom was not replaced and the band continued as a trio.

I'm not sure what prompted John's decision to reverse the complete control for democracy (he had basically told the others that they had to accept this decision or he would leave the band!) but it gave Stu Cook and Doug Clifford the opportunity to pitch in and get some of their songs on an album. Fogerty only contributed three songs to Mardi Gras, Doug Clifford two, Stu Cook three and a co-write between Clifford and Cook and the terrible cover of Hello Mary Lou completed the album. Not only was the writing shared out but also the vocals with Fogerty singing four but Clifford and Cook singing the songs they wrote. Fogerty also refused to contribute any vocals or instrumentation to Cook and Clifford's songs, except for guitar.

They toured in support of the album in the States and Europe but relations within were straining fast and so it was little wonder that in October 1972 it was announced that the band were no more!

Besides the internal strife John Fogerty was increasingly at odds with the record label, Fantasy, of whom it was felt that they had given the band a really poor contract.

John Fogerty would later comment on the demise of CCR in a 1997 Swedish magazine:
 
"I was alone when I made that [Creedence] music. I was alone when I made the arrangements, I was alone when I added background vocals, guitars and some other stuff. I was alone when I produced and mixed the albums. The other guys showed up only for rehearsals and the days we made the actual recordings. For me Creedence was like sitting on a time bomb. We'd had decent successes with our cover of 'Susie Q' and with the first album. When we went into the studio to cut 'Proud Mary,' it was the first time we were in a real Hollywood studio, RCA's Los Angeles studio, and the problems started immediately. The other guys in the band insisted on writing songs for the new album, they had opinions on the arrangements, they wanted to sing. They went as far as adding background vocals to 'Proud Mary,' and it sounded awful. They used tambourines, and it sounded no better.
 
That's when I understood I had a choice to make. At that point in time we were just a one hit wonder, and 'Susie Q' hadn't really been that big a hit. Either this [the new album] would be a success, something really big, or we might as well start working at the car wash again. There was a big row. We went to an Italian restaurant and I remember that I very clearly told the others that I for one didn't want to go back to the car wash again. Now we had to make the best possible album and it wasn't important who did what, as long as the result was the very best we could achieve. And of course I was the one who should do it. I don't think the others really understood what I meant, but at least I could manage the situation the way I wanted. The result was eight million-selling double-sided singles in a row and six albums, all of which went platinum. And Melody Maker had us as the best band in the world. That was after the Beatles split, but still. ... And I was the one who had created all this. Despite that, I don't think they understood what I was talking about. ... They were obsessed with the idea of more control and more influence. So finally the bomb exploded and we never worked together again."

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