Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Final Album ‘Mardi Gras’ Turns 40
Ever since its members starting working together in the early ’60s, Creedence Clearwater Revival delivered an amazing body of work in a short amount of time. Sadly, the story ended 40 years ago this month with the final album they recorded (mostly) together, ‘Mardi Gras.’
John Fogerty, elder brother Tom, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford together created a sound that was both deeply rooted in the history of American music and yet completely original. After the rapid-fire releases of their self-titled 1968 debut and the three (!!!) classic and hit-filled albums they released in 1969, the band seemed primed to dominate the ’70s.
Their fifth album, ‘Cosmo’s Factory’ — released in 1970 and arguably their creative peak — was chock full of killer tracks like ‘Run Through The Jungle,’ ‘Ramble Tamble,’ and ‘Up Around The Bend.’
Reportedly, signs of trouble within the group were already turning up below the surface, however the band somehow managed to keep it together and issue yet another album, ‘Pendulum,’ later that year.
Though all in all it’s a strong record, it would be the last to feature the original four members as Tom Fogerty left the band in early 1971. Tensions within the group had been running high for some time, as Tom had wanted to take a larger role in the creative process of the band, feeling he and the others were underutilized and merely treated as John’s backup band.
With Tom gone, the band reassembled to record what was to be their swan song, ‘Mardi Gras.’ In a possibly spiteful and sarcastic effort by John to foster the democracy his bandmates sought, ‘Mardi Gras’ contained only three original songs by him, and only four that featured his trademark vocals — a cover of Rick Nelson’s ‘Hello Mary Lou’ being the other.
The remaining tracks were all written and sung by Clifford and Cook, resulting in a pretty generic sounding rootsy rock album. According to AllMusic, the duo — who for years have performed together as Creedence Clearwater Revisited — said the songwriting split was something Fogerty needed to creatively recharge, while he says he finally gave in to their repeated demands for equal time.
Released in April of 1972, the album went gold on the strength of the killer single ‘Sweet Hitch Hiker.’ Regardless, their identity was fading fast, and though the record actually did make No. 12 on the Billboard charts, it was not the CCR of previous years. The band hit the road one final time as a three piece after the album’s release, but that was the end of the line.
In the fall of ’72, Creedence Clearwater Revival would cease to exist. Though ‘Mardi Gras’ contained only a fraction of the greatness the band delivered throughout their short but stunning life, we remember it as the final notes delivered by an incredible band. When you realize how much music they packed into such a short time frame, we can’t help but shake our collective heads in wonder.