After Creedence Clearwater Revisited came to an end in 2019, drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford didn’t have to look very far for a music-related project to keep him busy well into the future.
Clifford, best known as a founding member of Creedence Clearwater Revival, says he came across “a good size reel” of audio tape in his studio that made him think there were other master reel-to-reel recordings in his Reno, Nevada, house. That prompted a trip to his sizable garage, where he has several big storage lockers.
“I went right to the one [with the tapes] because I put all the musical stuff in that particular spot,” Clifford says. “I got in there, and there were boxes: 10 or 12 of these reels. Some were marked, and some weren’t.”
Realizing some of the tapes were up to 40 years old, Clifford says he didn’t dare put any of the reels on his machine, fearing he might damage them. So he called an engineer friend for advice and was told the tapes needed to be baked.
“And I said, ‘What have you been smoking? Or have you been baking brownies?’ ” Clifford recalls with a laugh.
Over time, magnetic audio tape can accumulate moisture and develop what’s known as sticky-shed syndrome. Carefully “baking” a tape at a low temperature for several hours is a way to get rid of the moisture, and after a successful bake, a tape is playable again and therefore can be transferred to another format.
Clifford says all of his tapes survived the baking process. They contained more than 100 tunes, among them a 10-song album titled Magic Window that Clifford recorded in 1985 at his home studio while he was living in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Unlike Clifford’s debut solo album in 1972, which he describes as “an experiment” from trying out a remote vehicle with a 16-track machine, Magic Window was “an artist endeavor” that he put to the side when other projects came along. Backing him on the album are bassist Chris Solberg and guitarists Russell DaShiell and Rob Polomsky.
Released April 24 (his 75th birthday), Magic Window contains the single “Just Another Girl,” on which Clifford incorporates a taste of Simmons electronic drums.
“Well, at that time, that was the latest and the greatest,” he says. “I was very into the technology happening back then. I’m so used to hearing [those recordings] with the Simmons tom-toms; they sound good to me.”
The other music on his rediscovered tapes sounds good to him, and those tracks will eventually see the light of day (among them are recordings done with Bobby Whitlock of Derek and the Dominos fame). As it turns out, transitioning from performing the Creedence Clearwater Revival catalog with founding bassist Stu Cook as part of Creedence Clearwater Revisited to a studio-centric role couldn’t have come at a better time for Clifford.
“It had served its purpose,” he says of Revisited. “We had a five-year plan, and it ended up being five times that. We never expected to make a record [1998’s two-disc concert set Recollection] and get a platinum record out of it.”
Clifford adds, “It was time to go. I’m beat up physically. Right now my back is out; my back goes out all the time — drummer’s back. I have five grandkids, and I’ve missed birthdays. … It’s time to do other things, and fortunately for me, I’ve found this little treasure trove.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Photo by Brent Clifford