38. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mardi Gras (1972)
For the first four years of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s career, its leader, lead singer and guitarist John Fogerty, was pressured by the other members to make CCR more democratic. Meaning the other members would participate in dictating artistic direction and writing songs. Fogerty refused, and the band enjoyed consistent, remarkable success.
Finally, in 1971, in advance of the band’s seventh and final album, Fogerty turned the tables. He said the band would function democratically, it would split songwriting responsibility equally.
The other members, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford (Fogerty’s brother Tom having recently quit, alienated by John’s strict control of the band), suddenly realized they’d been pushing for a huge mistake—that CCR would sink without enough of Fogerty’s material—and tried to persuade Fogerty to keep their arrangement the same.
But he doubled down, declaring that he would quit CCR if it didn’t go democratic, and, worse, that he refused to contribute anything to the other member’s songs beyond basic rhythm guitar. Basically he was rubbing in their face how central he was to the band’s success. The resulting album sold less than the band’s prior work, yielded no major hits and was poorly reviewed.
But it’s not bad, it sounds like a CCR album with all the high stakes removed and the only goal is turning in a sleepy, country rock record. Cook and Clifford’s ragged vocals make CCR sound more like other northern California bands of the era like Quicksilver Messenger Service or Country Joe & the Fish, and Fogerty sounds relaxed and reflective, particularly on “Someday Never Comes.” If CCR had to go out, this was an interesting way to do so.