Friday, April 18, 2014

Late Night Listening: Pendulum

Cosmo's Factory may be Creedence Clearwater Revival's most successful album (and it has so many great songs it's hard not to love it), but I've always been drawn to Pendulum, their post-Cosmo's release. It's not a musical tour de force, but I enjoy its lack of showiness. My two favorite songs are "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" (John Fogerty obviously likes rain motifs, since this followed the prior album's "Who'll Stop the Rain?") and "(Wish I Could) Hide Away." Every song on the album is a CCR original, which is a plus; I like their cover versions well enough, but I always prefer hearing a group doing their own material. I also like the musical diversity that Pendulum offers: more keyboards, more horns, and overall a more full sound. Alas, this was their last album with the full CCR lineup; Tom Fogerty left the group shortly after this was finished, and CCR would only do one more album before everyone went their separate ways.  And if you listen to Pendulum, you hear a lot of evidence that John Fogerty was aware that the group was already growing apart; "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" seems to allude to the friction between the Fogerty brothers.  If you only own two Creedence Clearwater Revival albums, this should be the other one.

If any track fails, it's "Rude Awakening #2." Haven't heard of it? There's a good reason; it's an experimental piece built around a couple of musical riffs, layered with instrumentation in a sort of audio montage, and for the most part it alternates between tedious and grating.

One thing about the album that has always bothered me is the track listing on the back cover. For some reason, CCR chose to list the tracks randomly; the song order on the record is totally different. Created confusion the first time I listened to the album, because my normal practice was to keep the album cover close at hand to see what track was playing and what was coming up. Ultimately, the order of songs on the album itself is better; side one on the album is wonderfully moody for the most part, while side two is a much more energetic, rocking side. No surprise that I prefer side one...

(One other thing worth mentioning: for some reason, Fantasy Records was using thinner vinyl than most companies in 1970, so most copies of this original album are amazingly flimsy. Nevertheless, they managed to get great sound into those vinyl grooves, including a very rich bass sound that is often lacking in thinner vinyl, since the grooves are often more shallow.)

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