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Creedence Clearwater Revival: Pendulum - Album Of The Week Club review

John Fogerty embellished the Creedence Clearwater Revival sound on Pendulum, the album that heralded the beginning of CCR's end

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Pendulum
(Image: © Fantasy Records)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: Pendulum

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Pendulum

(Image credit: Fantasy Records)

Pagan Baby
Sailor's Lament
Chameleon
Have You Ever Seen the Rain
(Wish I Could) Hideaway
Born to Move
Hey Tonight
It's Just a Thought
Molina
Rude Awakening #2

In 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival sold more albums than The Beatles, and when the latter confirmed their spilt in April the following year, the stage looked set for Creedence to capitalise. But the sixth Creedence album was their last with Tom Fogerty, and the last great work of the band’s all too brief career. 

Rehearsals featured input from Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper as Fogerty sought to emulate the sound of his heroes at Stax, while Pendulum itself was recorded over a month at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, where the band had made Bad Moon Rising, Green River and Cosmo's Factory. 

Pendulum features two of John Fogerty’s best-known songs, the rattling Hey Tonight and the beautiful Have You Ever Seen The Rain?, alongside uniformly fine songs from raging opener Pagan Baby and Stax homage Chameleon, to the more reflective Sailor’s Lament and It’s Just A Thought. Pendulum was also the only Creedence album to not feature any cover versions.

On its release Pendulum shipped a million copies, but two months later Tom Fogerty quit the band, and Creedence stuttered.  

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in December 1970

  • The End of an Ear - Robert Wyatt
  • Wishbone Ash - Wishbone Ash
  • Ginger Baker's Air Force 2 - Ginger Baker's Air Force
  • John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - John Lennon
  • Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band - Yoko Ono and Plastic Ono Band
  • Lizard - King Crimson
  • T. Rex  - T. Rex
  • The Black-Man's Burdon - Eric Burdon and War
  • Daughter of Time - Colosseum
  • Desertshore - Nico
  • The End of the Game - Peter Green
  • False Start - Love
  • H to He, Who Am the Only One - Van der Graaf Generator
  • Highway - Free
  • Kingdom Come - Sir Lord Baltimore
  • Lick My Decals Off, Baby - Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band
  • Looking On - The Move
  • Ry Cooder - Ry Cooder
  • 'Til the Band Comes In - Scott Walker
  • Watt - Ten Years After
  • What About Me - Quicksilver Messenger Service
  • Just Another Diamond Day - Vashti Bunyan

What they said...

"Even at its best. Pendulum is marred by the overly precise arranging, performing, singing and mixing that seemed to have become Fogerty’s trademark. All the elements of great rock and roll are present on some of this album and yet none of it ever becomes great rock and roll. It lacks the sense of humour that is the hallmark of all great rock and the looseness necessary for all the elements to gel into something that is consistently listenable." (Rolling Stone)

"Pendulum finds a first-class songwriter and craftsman pushing himself and his band to try new sounds, styles, and textures. His ambition results in a stumble - Rude Awakening 2 portentously teeters on the verge of prog-rock, something CCR just can't pull off - but the rest of the record is excellent, with such great numbers as the bluesy groove Pagan Baby, the soulful vamp Chameleon, the moody It's Just a Thought, and the raver Molina. (AllMusic)

"Keyboard and horn overdubs weigh these songs down like an excess of fur coats, and for every moment as memorable as the sunsplash of organ that illuminates the second chorus of Have You Ever Seen the Rain, there’s the ham-fisted triads on (Wish I Could) Hideaway or the Rhodes that plunks at the bottom end of Chameleon for no discernible reason. Their presence is less disturbing than John Fogerty’s thinking. How could a man with such fierce clarity of vision allow this to happen?" (Spectrum Culture)"

What you said...

Alex Hayes: There's prolific, and then there was Creedence Clearwater Revival. During a purple patch that lasted from 1968 to 1972, the band were ridiculously productive. Creedence worked feverishly between those years, creating and releasing new music, and then touring in support of it. All at the kind of frenzied pace that would give the likes of W Axl Rose nightmares.

The groups sixth album, Pendulum, saw the light of day in December 1970, just 27 months after the release of their debut. For comparison, it took Boston 37 years to get to the same point in their career. To be fair though, with Creedence it was a case of music first, acrimonious lawsuits later, and not the other way around.

That kind of workload is just unsustainable, and the group folded after their badly received seventh album, Mardi Gras (1972), the only CCR album I've never bothered to check out and am unfamiliar with. A major bone of contention between the members of Creedence had been the dominating presence of singer, guitarist and chief songwriter John Fogerty, whose leadership the other band members had chafed under.

For Mardi Gras, Creedence had been reduced to a trio. The band's second guitarist Tom Fogerty, John's brother, had finally quit the band in frustration the year before. Pendulum is the final album recorded by the original line-up, and, as such, is often considered to be the last 'genuine' Creedence album.

It had the slight misfortune of following in the footsteps of CCR's finest hour, the outstanding Cosmo's Factory (July 1970), but was still a hugely enjoyable affair in its own right, loaded as it was with terrific songs and an expanded musical palette. On Pendulum, the group made far greater use of both keyboards and saxophone, bathing the songs in warmer, more soulful textures than before. It was a musical direction that had been hinted at on the previous album however, on the sublime Long As I Can See The Light.

The 'hit-machine' tracks here are Have You Ever Seen The Rain? and Hey Tonight. Clocking in at less than three minutes apiece, they are both fine examples of John Fogerty's song-writing style at that time. Born To Move grooves along nicely and benefits from a well executed instrumental outro. The more wistful (Wish I Could) Hideaway and It's Just A Thought are both simply delightful, the latter probably my favourite cut on the album. Lyrically, they seem to lament Tom Fogerty's imminent departure.

It's a shame that the album closes out the way it does, with the tedious instrumental Rude Awakening #2. It starts out okay but soon descends into being blatant filler. Perhaps John Fogerty had run out of decent songs during the album sessions? At one stage, it sounds like my old class at school, creating a cacophony on our standard issue recorders during a dinner break.

Eternal damnation to those shitting instruments by the way. Those infernal recorders were the bane of generations of British schoolchildren. I destroyed mine with a large boulder on my old back street, just after leaving school. BOOSH! How incredibly therapeutic. Sorry, I digress.

Creedence Clearwater Revival were a unique group for the time, very out-of-step with many of their contemporaries. You could almost think of them as purveyors of roots-rock before the term properly gained usage. Pendulum isn't their finest album, but is still well worth a person's time. It's a marvellous final gem concocted by a band winding down from an unprecedentedly fertile period of creativity. 8/10

Cameron Gillespie: CCR has to be one of the most easy listening bands of all time. I could sit and listen to anything by CCR or John Fogerty for hours on end. That being said is it a 10/10 album? Well some might argue so... for me it's just another great record by another great band, the album contains three of CCR's biggest songs, Molina, Hey Tonight, and Have you Ever Seen The Rain, that's a great start but the rest of the album is a bit hum-ho, but easily listenable.

I personally prefer the more upbeat classics of the band e.g. Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son. This said, Pendulum has a rather raw feeling to parts of it that I quite like too. For me it's a 7/10.

Larry Finch: Huge CCR fan back in the day. Not their best album in my mind, but, one I still enjoy. A couple of songs I would consider not up to par, but a good album nonetheless. Hard to follow up Cosmo’s Factory.

Marco LG: I am familiar with the hits by Creedence Clearwater Revival through the compilation Chronicle Vol.1, which according to Wikipedia is their best selling album. As much as I love that compilation, listening to Pendulum this week, and to Cosmo’s Factory for comparison, has not made me into a CCR fan.

The two big hits here are Have You Ever Seen The Rain? and Hey Tonight, which happen to be placed in the middle of the running order two songs apart from each other. This works well, providing that bit of familiarity to hook one’s attention. My problem however is the I have struggled committing to memory the rest of the album, in other words I did not find any other hook to keep me coming back. Very similar considerations apply to Cosmo’s Factory for me, and with the latter considered to be their best album that would be me done with CCR’s discography for a very long while.

In summary: a rather outdated sound makes a rather anonymous album. The music is as good as it gets for the late 60s, but this one came out after not one but two albums by Black Sabbath, and after Deep Purple In Rock. 5 out 10 from me.

John Davidson: I feel like I should have enjoyed this more than I did. I like a fair few songs by the band, but never feel the need to put on an album.

They have distinctive sound and when it works it is excellent, but there's nothing on here to rival Bad Moon Rising, Fortunate Son or Run To The Jungle. Pagan Baby comes close but somehow doesn't quite reach the same level.

Fogerty is in good voice and carries that oh-so 60s angry young man vibe through much of their output. He has good turn of phrase, but he's also prone to hammering that one phrase on repeat through the song as on Have You Ever Seen the Rain.

It's by no means a bad album, but it just doesn't grab me.

One listen through was all I could muster. I did start it a few times but found my attention wandering after the first couple of songs.

Maybe harsh but this is a 6/10 for me.

Final Score: 7.41⁄10 (54 votes cast, with a total score of 400)

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