Underrated Album Series: “Mardi Gras” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

By Nick The Recordlover

Hello Fellow Music Lovers!

I’ve been a Creedence Clearwater Revival fan for as long as I can remember. I have every album they released, boxed sets of their early material as Tommy Fogerty and The Blue Velvets and The Golliwogs, and “Live” recordings. When I looked through the Creedence Clearwater Revival “Chronicle” liner notes I noticed when “Someday Never Comes” was mentioned, it read that the song was from the LP “Mardi Gras” which was released in 1972. I was yet to be familiar with the album and its contents until around 1996 when I was shopping at Princeton Record Exchange.

While I was flipping through the Creedence album section I finally noticed it. The cover was much different than the other releases as there was not a group photo. Just the group’s name circling around and the little girl with the tambourine in her hand which read “Mardi Gras”. The back cover shows John Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford in conversation and the list of song titles. I took the record out of its sleeve and it was on the blue “Full Radial Stereo” label. I thought this must be a first pressing, and the last LP to feature the blue label, as all other copies would be on the brown Fantasy Label with the big “F” in the middle. Needless to say I didn’t pick it up that day, as I wasn’t in the market for it at that particular time.

Around 2000, I picked up the CD and heard it for the first time. I knew it would be different, I just didn’t know how much! “Lookin’ For A Reason” had a country, more laid back feeling to it. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford joined in and wrote their own songs for the LP. There are many different stories as to how and why this album was released. It has taken a beating ever since its 1972 release. After multiple listens, I fell in love with it. So much so I have multiple copies on LP (one promo copy on the brown label, a stock copy on the brown label, and a blue “Full Radial Stereo” reissue which sounds much better than the stock brown labels). Why it was so maligned when it came out is anybody’s guess. I’ve spoken to Creedence fans over the years (I was in the record shop two weeks ago, and there was a customer who had “Mardi Gras” in his pile for purchase, and said it was so good because it was different), and some say it’s their favorite album by the group (even though Tom Fogerty left shortly after “Pendulum” was released in 1970).

The tracks on the album have a charm all their own. “Lookin’ For A Reason” is a reflective song written by John Fogerty which could have a double meaning. Is he questioning a relationship with a loved one or does he want to leave Creedence? Whatever the circumstance, it’s a nice country laid back song to kick off the album.

“Take It Like A Friend” was written by Stu Cook and is the first of his three contributions to the album. It starts off with the lyrics, “If maybe you’d move over, give someone else a chance to try their luck…”

Perhaps it’s a reach out to John Fogerty to forget about the tensions that were surrounding the group at the time and to rekindle the chemistry the band had with each other on the earlier albums. Good vocal performance from Stu Cook and an easy going track.

“Need Someone to Hold” is the first track written by drummer Doug Clifford and is by far my favorite one on “Mardi Gras”. It’s so well written and sung, and I can identify with the lyrics. All of them. Although it’s written from Doug Clifford’s view of life on the road, the chorus always brings the reality of life: “Give out the warm, Comes back cold. Oh God, I Need Someone to Hold.” We’ve all felt this way at some point of our lives. No matter what we do, or how kind we are to others, we’re not always appreciated.

“Tearin’ Up The Country” is another Doug Clifford composition, and it has that feel-good country-rock sound. Stu Cook’s bass on the intro gives it a nice kick-off the song, while Doug Clifford sings about his days as a child who would rather ditch his books and play his music real loud! Yes, I can relate to this one all the way! John Fogerty gives us a nice lead guitar riff in the break. It’s featured as the B-Side of “Someday Never Comes”.

“Someday Never Comes” was released as a single from the album, and it is one of John Fogerty’s most heartfelt songs he’s ever put on disc. It’s reality in less than four minutes. He sings about the absence of his father, becoming an absentee father himself, and his child’s mother saying “Someday You’ll Understand”. The song carries the concept of having to find one’s true self before having the ability to give to others. Whatever you have to say or do for yourself, or something you need to clear up with friends, or family, do it now (or as soon as possible), because indeed, “Someday Never Comes.”

Side Two kicks off with a great pop song, “What Are You Gonna Go?” written by Doug Clifford (his final track on the album), is about someone who is trying to help their partner/friend become independent in their life and not relying on anyone else but him. Good drumming and singing from Doug.

“Sail Away” is another favorite from the LP and Stu Cook’s best contribution to “Mardi Gras”. Love the dreamy feeling of this song. Reminds me of just chilling out when the sun goes down and feeling like sailing away from the responsibilities and the humdrum life can sometimes bring. Nice singing from Stu Cook and the rhythm is reminiscent of “Proud Mary”. Perhaps that was the intention?

“Door to Door” starts off a trio of great pop and rock tunes, and Stu Cook (who also wrote it) gives it his all on vocals. It has that traditional 3 chord progression late 50s-early 60s type of sound and the band plays tight throughout. The lyrics refer to Stu Cook’s early days as a door-to-door salesman before breaking in to the music scene. It’s also featured as the flip side to the single “Sweet Hitch Hiker”.

The album goes back to the early Creedence concept of a cover song per album (Their previous album, “Pendulum” contained all original compositions), and the group decided to go with “Hello Mary Lou”. A nice choice, reminiscent of the innocent days of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s nearly played, produced, and sung note-for-note as Ricky Nelson’s original hit version.

“Mardi Gras” ends the celebration with the hard-rockin’ sexual innuendo “Sweet Hitch Hiker” (Written by John Fogerty and the second of two singles from the album). It has a great intro (sounds like Fogerty is scraping his guitar pick against the string to simulate a motorcycle taking off), and is classic Creedence. Great guitar from Fogerty, while Stu and Doug fit in nicely on bass and drums. Love the lyrics: “Was Riding along side the highway, rollin’ up the countryside”/”Thinking I’m the devil’s heatwave”/”What you burn in your crazy mind?” and the chorus “Sweet Hitch-A-Hiker! We could make music at the Greasy King”/”Sweet Hitch-A-Hiker! Won’t you ride on my fast machine? (Being it was 1971 -1972 at the time of recording, I think the group wanted to see how far they could go with their lyrics).”

If you’ve been a Creedence fan since the early days of Tommy Fogerty and The Blue Velvets, or just starting to get into their hits, definitely give this album a listen. It’s an underrated album that should have been given more airplay and respect.


Nick The RecordLover

Author: recordlover

Hi Everyone! Welcome to my page! I've been collecting records for over 36 years and it is my passion to search for original pressings of albums by The Beatles, Stones, British Invasion, 1960s-1970s artists, and more!

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