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John Fogerty

REVIVAL • John Fogerty

Let's face it, at this stage of the game one delves into a new John Fogerty record in hopes of ever so briefly revisiting places and emotions that resonate deep and long like an E 7th chord drenched in tremolo. Nothin' wrong with that as long as you time-travel roundtrip.

It sure helps that the man's best work rings ageless like the blues, and that in recent years he seems to have come fully to terms with his legacy and most enduring virtues as a songwriter and musician. Well-intentioned but overblown experiments such as 1986's Eye of the Zombie notwithstanding, Fogerty was who he was and he does what he does.

And for much of the ride Revival is aptly titled, vividly evoking the name, sound, and spirit of Fogerty's celebrated 1960s Bay Area band that consistently delivered hit singles with substance and blew most of the acid-addled noodlers from San Fran clean out of the water. The new album's opening track, "Don't You Wish It Was True"--think "Imagine" in a pearl-buttoned shirt--rates as a bona fide A-list addition to the songwriting canon of an American rock 'n' roll master.

Yep, if it's retro-kicks you're after, Fogerty's more than happy to oblige. "Gunslinger" echoes CCR in loping, mid-tempo "Lodi" mode, complete with the chunky, chordal riffs and straight-ahead, unprocessed guitar tone of yore. "It Ain't Right," a populist rockabilly rouser, could easily be an unearthed gem from the Cosmo's Factory sessions. Then there's "Long Dark Night," a bare-knuckled bayou brawler that takes Dubya, Cheney, and company to task in no uncertain terms. 

Which brings up a few little problems. At the top of his game, Fogerty stands alongside our most inventive lyric craftsmen, rarely prone to the blunt-instrument bludgeoning he dishes out on a couple of the new tunes, namely "Long Dark Night" and "I Can't Take It No More" (another vitriolic Bush basher). And thanks to his occasional over-reliance on sludgy, dated guitar sounds and simple song structures, certain otherwise undistinguished cuts go nowhere and take seemingly forever to get there.

These are legit quibbles, but I'm willing to leapfrog a few lame tracks to get to the solid stuff. Bottom line, it's like the Hoodoo Man himself sings in "Creedence Song," a slyly self-referential number that ranks among the album's finest: "People comin' up to the bandstand / Say you can't go wrong / If you play a little bit of that Creedence song." For what it's worth, he'll get no argument here.
• Mike Thomas

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