CREEDENCE Clearwater Revival de-throning the Beatles in the World Vocal Group section of the NME Popularity Poll – was about the very last thing Creedence’s bespectacled bassist Stu Cook envisaged hearing during his current vacation in London with his petite wife Jackie.
With genuine surprise he confessed, “You know, I thought if anyone was capable of doing it, then it would have been Led Zeppelin.
“What do you say when something like this happens,” he offered. ” I suppose that it must sound really corney and all that, but I guess I’m speaking for the whole band when I say it’s a pleasure.”
After much sight-seeing in Westminster Abbey, Portobello Road, Cambridge and a hectic night out down the Speakeasy, Stu relaxed in the purdah of his Mayfair apartment as he proceeded to work out some guitar runs on his acoustic Gibson.
“I’m learning to play lead,” he casually remarked, as we began to discuss Creedence’s popularity in Britain and their surprise placing in the poll.
Individually, Creedence aren’t as well known as the now mutually dis-enchanted foursome . . . but then in, who is?
This subject of people becoming conscious of the individual members of a group became our first topic of conversation.
“Groups like Led Zeppelin and ourselves have made it primarily on the strength of our live appearances and record sales. I’m sure the success of our London concerts last year had a lot to do with it… plus the fact that we sell a tremendous amount of singles as well as albums.
“Our only identification has been through having our faces on our albums covers and magazine coverage.
Stu’s observations are that the personality cult has greatly levelled out in it’s intensity in
relationship to the paramount role it adopted in the early sixties rock revolution.
“I guess nearly everyone in the world has heard of the Beatles… and at least half of them must know each one by name.
“At first, people were hardly conscious of Beatles music it was the individual personalities that they were digging. It was all so very new and the publicity machine was geared to handle it all.
“When they first broke in the States the Beatles were quite unique and were definitely the first shining light in rock music for over five years.”
Stu’s opinion is that the entire rock scene had retrogressed to the likes of Bobby Vinton and all those finger-poppin’ mohair suited heroes. He also claims:
“Much of the Beatles success was due to Derek Taylor, a man whom I consider to be the greatest publicist of the ‘sixties.”
On the other hand, Stu feels that not too many people know the Stones, saving for the personification of their image in Mick Jagger.
“When the Stones started out, they made their own negative press. They were generally looked upon as being scruffy hooligans and the Beatles the loveable four.
“Though in true life it really wasn’t like that at all… I suppose it’s just that it’s hard to get most people interested in reality.”
Stu was betng quite honest when he expressed a desire that he would like the group to become individually better known. But he was quite adamant in his statement that in no way was this an ego-trip, it’s just part of building a career.
” People forget that rock is still a part of show business just like the theatre. It’s your audience… they come to see you and to be entertained. If they like you, they’ll find out who you are.”
Satisfied in the knowledge that their new album ” Pendulum had emulated the platinum success of their previous recorded offerings. Creedence had decided to take a prolonged vacation from each other for the first time in over three years. The sole purpose being to relax and recharge their energies.
“Doug headed for the snow in the Californian Sierra Mountains… Tom made it down to Acapulco and I believe John is somewhere in the desert, I think he’s in Death Valley!” Stu revealed.
In reference to the “Pendulum” album, I expressed my opinion that I found it to be much more of a complete group album than before.
Not only in the overall sound and production, which is much fuller, but that everyone concerned appears to be playing at their maximum capacity. With the result that it can be evaluated as a most satisfactory progression on their previous offerings.
“Well… I can tell you that we’re all very pleased with it. Obviously we’ve matured as musicians and so what we did was to try harder things… get them right and put them down on record.
“Somehow we were all much more confident than ever before when we cut that album… it’s definitely more positive than anything that we’ve done before.
“Though you may use the same arrangement, the sound you put on record can be quite different to that which you produce on stage. Personally, I feel that ‘Pendulum‘ comes the closest to capturing our live sound. And in particular I was extremely pleased in the way that the bass and drums were reproduced… much much fuller than ever before.
Divulging their recording procedure Stu explained, ” In actual fact for this album we went into the studio with eight numbers already prepared.
“Two songs… ‘Pagan Baby’ and ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ were written and rehearsed on the spot during the course of one of the sessions. To me ‘Pagan Baby’ sounds like a live cut. In fact it only took us an hour to learn and we did it in just one take.
“Hey, don’t get the idea that we’re a ‘one-take’ group. It’s just that with that particular number we captured the right feeling, first time.
“That’s very important to us… it’s inherent in our music that we have the feeling… the edge in projecting our personal electricity.
“Sometimes it’s the take that has the most fluffs and the boobs on it that comes out sounding the best, simply because it’s got just the right feeling into it. I mean no matter how much you turned up the volume on your stereo, you just couldn’t dig a nicely played cut of ‘Keep On Chooglin!’
Stu then went on to reveal that as yet no dates had been booked for any concert appearances or for recording sessions.
“This I do know… we’ve set aside nine weeks during the Summer from which we’ll pick four of them to tour Europe.”
And of the possibilities that they may be joined by Booker T & the MG’s, Stu added. “That’s quite possible. They are our closest musical friends and we get along just fine. It’s always a pleasure to play with them… we just break out the beer and have a good time.”
Of their future plans Stu went on to relate that he envisages a point when future albums by Creedence may well feature various members of the group performing their own material.
“Of course they will have to be up to the high standard which we have previously set ourselves. This is just part of a loosening up policy. I mean there’s just no reason why we should do the same things year-in, year-out.
“There’s even a possibility that we may do solo albums if we feel the urge to do so… but again there’s nothing definite. It’s just a matter of seeing how things go.”
Creedence would like to involve themselves in the celluloid arts but as yet are still reticent to undertake any move, for as Stu took pains to point out, “The problem of doing a film is that immediately someone else is in charge. Now that’s where the compromise starts and you don’t know where it will eventually end.
“We’ve talked about it a lot but that’s about all. Quite a number of people have asked us to write and record the soundtrack for various movies but we haven’t bothered. All they really want to do is to use your name to tag onto their product. There’s just no point in having a bunch of skeletons in the closet when you don’t have to.
“As a group we have always been most careful in what we do and we’re not going to change that policy now, not for anything.” – STU COOK INTERVIEWED BY ROY CARR FOR NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, JANUARY ’71