Among Creedence Clearwater Revival’s seven studio albums, Pendulum is unique, which by definition makes it different from the band’s other six recordings, but there are other differences that help to make this a record that is well worth rediscovering.
Released on December 7, 1970, it was the second album release of the year, it had been recorded over the course of five weeks in the fall; their previous albums had all been recorded in ten days or under. Its unique feature is that every song is written by John Fogerty, there’s not a cover version to be heard (a prominent feature of all the band’s previous records and of their final studio album, Mardi Gras).
Fogerty’s songs are strong throughout and are made more interesting by the addition of horns and keyboards, which gives the band’s sound much greater depth, a more expansive feel, while remaining “signature” CCR recordings. Recorded at Wally Heider’s studio in San Francisco, the fact that it took a month to record, a relatively long time for a CCR record, was down to the fact that the initial take on each song was performed by all four members, this was then followed by extensive overdubbing by John. The overdubs included a horn section, keyboards and additional backing vocals, all of which were played and sung by John.
“Chameleon” is one of the album’s outstanding tracks and it is a good example of Fogerty’s new way of recording. The ballad, “(Wish I Could) Hideaway” is another fabulous track and it is very different from traditional CCR records in that there is very little guitar to be heard, instead Fogerty’s organ playing is very much to the fore; the same thing can be said of, “It’s Just A Thought.”
Don’t for a second think that this is a complete departure from everything we love about CCR. “Born To Move” is typical chooglin’ rock and has a strong bed of guitars, it’s just that it is augmented by the horn section and the organ. It’s also true of, “Hey Tonight,” which could have been included on any one of the previous five studio records and not sounded even slightly out of place.
For many, the album’s standout track is “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” as much to do with the fact it was Pendulum’s one 45rpm release, backed by “Hey Tonight”; initially the band said they wouldn’t release any singles. According to Tom Fogerty, “We’re trying to change our image. Critics say, ‘They’re a great singles band, but they can’t make albums.’” According to bass player Stu Cook, “So we made an album with lots of singles on it and let them attack that for a while.”
Released in January 1971, “Rain” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, while in Canada it topped the charts and made No. 38 in the UK. Many have speculated about the meaning of the song, from it being about the Vietnam War to the lost idealism of the 1960s while John Fogerty himself says it is about the difficulties within the band that culminated in his brother Tom, quitting.
The album closes with “Rude Awakening #2,” which is an experimental instrumental, and vastly different from anything the band had ever previously attempted. The fact is Fogerty’s keyboard playing adds a freshness to the music, making it sound jazz-like in places, but definitely adding greater depth.
Pendulum hit the US album chart on December 26, 1970, peaking at No. 5. It hit No. 8 in the UK, topped the chart in both Norway and Australia, and went Top 3 in many other countries.