May 112012

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

cosmos factory covers

Come September, John Fogerty will be touring in Canada and performing Creedence Clearwater Revival albums in their entirety. It’s a long way from the days when he vowed he’d never play CCR songs again, but in the end his songs proved just as irresistible to him as they are to his listeners. The album that’s arguably gotten the least resistance, and one that Fogerty and his little traveling band will be presenting on alternate nights this fall, is 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory.

Released at the band’s creative and commercial zenith (they’d outsold the Beatles the previous year), Cosmo’s Factory captured a great band refusing to rest on its laurels. They expanded their palette with two long jams, four cover songs, and six songs that appeared on three million-selling singles. As peaks go, there’s no question that CCR’s is one of the highest in rock history. Let’s listen to eleven different artists scaling different parts of that peak.

Huxton Creepers – Ramble Tamble (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

“Ramble Tamble” has so much going for it. The power and intensity of its fast sections are matched by the slow sections in a completely different way, and rock lyrics don’t come any more prescient than these – Fogerty sung of “actors in the White House” ten years before Ronald Reagan’s election, and how many people today can relate to the line “mortgage on my life”? It’s one of many of CCR’s buried treasures. Thanks to the Huxton Creepers for digging it up and closing their live album Twelve Days to Paris with it. (The detour the song takes into the Doors side of town is kind of fun, too.)

Matt Lashoff – Before You Accuse Me (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

Creedence had always had at least one cover song on their previous albums, but they outdid themselves with their four in the Factory. “Before You Accuse Me,” now best known from Eric Clapton’s Unplugged version, was originally written and recorded by Bo Diddley back in 1957. Who knows what version Matt Lashoff heard first, but he deserves major credit for not doing a pale imitation of the giants who came before him. There’s little question that this is the best album ever recorded by a professional hockey player, and “Before You Accuse Me” is all the evidence you’ll need to prove it.

The Heart Attacks – Travelin’ Band (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

Fogerty used his best ’50s rock ‘n’ roll voice on the original “Travelin’ Band”; the Heart Attacks’ inspiration is less Little Richard than Stiff Little Fingers, and they attack the song with ferocious delight. There’s no way “Travelin’ Band” will ever become a stale oldie if it keeps getting treated to covers like this.

Elizabeth Mitchell – Ooby Dooby (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

“Ooby Dooby” first came to the world thanks to Roy Orbison, and CCR’s take was a salute to the Sun label’s sound. Elizabeth Mitchell, from the indie-pop band Ida, went a different way with it – she recorded her version for a children’s album called You Are My Sunshine, and the song sounds reborn as a gentle kiddie classic.

Hair of the Dog – Lookin’ Out My Back Door (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

Speaking of children’s songs, Fogerty wrote “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” for his three-year-old son, inspired in part by Dr. Seuss’s And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. This may have disappointed those who were convinced he was writing a drug song, but they’re the only ones who could listen to this upbeat, laid-back little ditty and feel any disappointment. They’re certainly no letdown in Hair of the Dog’s live version, as they show how the song might have sounded if Buck Owens was an Irish folkie.

Gringoman – Run Through the Jungle (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

Chooglin’: A Tribute to the Songs of John Fogerty is a strong salute to the good Mr. F., with little-known bands making fine music out of songs both classic and arcane. Among its high points is Gringoman, a.k.a. Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, covering “Run Through the Jungle” with an clear understanding of CCR’s deep roots. In an interview, Ambel said, “Creedence was the first band you could actually sound like in your garage or basement.” It’s a sound we’re glad he never forgot.

Ginger Sands – Up Around the Bend (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

Creedence’s “Up Around the Bend,” in a way both anticipatory and celebratory, is about the inalienable right to carouse; it’s a great song to play full-blast on the freeway while making your great escape. Ginger Sands gets that, but in her version, the escape has already been made. This song has been lying in a sandy hammock for days, and after three minutes in its company, you’ll be right there with it.

Jessica Lee – My Baby Left Me (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

Fogerty idolized Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley’s guitarist in the fifties; “My Baby Left Me” is as much a tribute to him as it is to the King, if not more so. Jessica Lee’s cover doesn’t copy either of them; she goes off in another direction altogether, more based around nightclub jazz-blues. It takes real guts to reimagine a song like this; it takes real talent to do it this well.

The Liz Borden Band – Who’ll Stop the Rain (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

CCR got pensive with “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” a song about an endless, nameless malaise that resonates just as strongly today as it did four decades and change ago, despite the indignities it’s suffered over the years (Fogerty griped about it being used in a paint thinner commercial). The Liz Borden Band aren’t quite so meditative in their version, giving the song forty whacks with all the pop-punk power they’ve got, and once again, the song not only survives but thrives.

The Bar-Kays – I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

We’ve talked about “Grapevine” in the past, but we could talk about it every day for two years and still not run out of classic covers of that great song. Here’s another one, by the Bar-Kays, that lasts longer than CCR’s and is no less gripping for it.

Ted Hawkins – Long As I Can See the Light (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover)

Ted Hawkins made his living singing on the windy boardwalks of Venice Beach; by the time a major label had found him, all that sand had added considerable grit to his voice, but eroded none of its soul. He closed his 1994 release The Next Hundred Years with this spellbinding performance of “Long As I Can See the Light.” More amazing: he recorded the song a cappella, and when the instruments were dubbed in later, they found his tapping feet had kept the beat perfectly. As with CCR nearly a quarter century before, it was the perfect way for a true artist to bring an album to a close.

The original Cosmo’s Factory can be found on iTunes and Amazon; for more about the band, click here.

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  5 Responses to “Full Albums: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Cosmo’s Factory’”

Comments (5)
  1. Hm — it appears the “Grapevine” mp3 is borked — at least for me…

  2. “Rev” – Other readers had similar borks. We found that m4a files were saved as mp3’s. That’s been corrected; try again and let us know if it works – if not, we’ll email you the file(s) directly…

  3. Awesome — that did the trick! Thanks!

  4. I trust you know that four of those songs are actually songs that Creedence themselves covered. (Before You Accuse Me, My Baby Left Me, Ooby Dooby, and I Heard It Through the Grapevine) Enough nitpicking: nice mix! Thanks for pulling these together!

  5. Never mind, I just read your text. Oops!

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