Deja Vu All Over Again
The thing that struck me when I first heard the opening track to Fogerty’s seventh solo album is that he seems to have made one of those Dick Clark deals with the devil. The guy still sounds remarkably like he did fronting Creedence Clearwater Revival so many years ago. The song is a terrific anti-war anthem, equating Iraq with Vietnam, with a great “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”-style hook. Unfortunately, the rest of the album fails to measure up to that promising beginning.
Instead of more substance, we get lightweight fluff (“Sugar-Sugar”), good time bar band tunes (“Radar”), hopelessly dated odes to domestic life (“Honey Do”) and disposable shuffles (“Rhubarb Pie”). “She’s Got Baggage” is catchy but silly. Despite his youthful appearance and sound, Fogerty’s a little too old to be doing the fake punk rock thing. There is also a generic swamp boogie (“Wicked Old Witch”) and a weird Zeppelin-Hendrix hybrid (“In the Garden”).
Guest guitarist Mark Knopfler turns “Nobody’s Here Anymore” into a Dire Straits tune. On it, Fogerty seems to lament the disconnectedness of our gizmo-laden lives. But it’s not entirely clear if Fogerty is a Luddite, an old fogey, or an apologist. Dobro master Jerry Douglas adds his incomparable talents to the sweet, easygoing “I Will Walk With You.”
The good news here is that Fogerty still sounds in prime form vocally, and his guitar work is often impressive. He has surrounded himself with some solid regular players, including the great Kenny Aronoff on drums. It’s just too bad all their efforts aren’t in service of better songs. You’d think that with seven years gone since his last studio album, Fogerty would have more to offer — or at least more to say.
John Fogerty: www.johnfogerty.com