Creedence Clearwater Revival

Mardi Gras

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Pared down to a trio, Creedence Clearwater Revival had to find a new way of doing business, since already their sound had changed, so they split creative duties evenly. It wasn't just that each member wrote songs -- they produced them, too. Doug Clifford and Stu Cook claim John Fogerty needed time to creatively recharge, while Fogerty says he simply bowed to the duo's relentless pressure for equal time. Both arguments make sense, but either way, the end result was the same: Mardi Gras was a mess. Not a disaster, which it was dismissed as upon its release, since there are a couple of bright moments. Typically, Fogerty is reliable, with the solid rocker "Sweet Hitch-Hiker," the country ramble "Lookin' for a Reason," a good cover of Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou," and the pretty good ballad "Someday Never Comes." These don't match the brilliance of previous CCR records, but they sparkle next to Clifford and Cook's efforts. That implies that their contributions are terrible, which they're usually not -- they're just pedestrian. Only "Sail Away" is difficult to listen to, due to Cook's flat, overemphasized vocals, but he makes up for it with the solid rocker "Door to Door" and the Fogerty soundalike "Take It Like a Friend." Clifford fares a little better since his voice is warmer and he wisely channels it into amiable country-rock, yet these are pretty average songs by two guys beginning to find their own songwriting voice. If Clifford and Cook had started their own band (which they did after this album) it would be easier to be charitable, but when held up against Creedence's other work, Mardi Gras withers. It's an unpretty end to a great band.

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