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John Fogerty

Revival – 2007 (Fantasy)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by John Fogerty

Everyone knows John Fogerty can play great, hooky guitar lines and sing with a wonderful honey-and-sandpaper voice. What this rootsy musician rarely gets credit for is his ability to write a deeply political song that is also timeless, not stuck in the moment. Take your 300th listen to "Who'll Stop The Rain" from his days with Creedence Clearwater Revival. Then again, listen to CCR's "It Came Out of the Sky," which name-checks Spiro Agnew, and you can understand how a song that makes a powerful statement at the time of its release could have less relevance a few decades later.

With "Revival," Forgerty makes a welcome return to form. The 12 tunes - his first for CCR's former label after years of legal wrangling - sound almost effortless. "Don't You Wish It Was True" offers a view of a world where everything that was once wrong has been remedied and uses shimmering guitar to make its point. "Gunslinger" suggests we need "somebody tough to tame this town," and it's not difficult to figure out that Fogerty is using the idea of an untamed Western outpost to represent the nation or even world at large. Other songs, however, such as "It Ain't Right" and "Long Dark Knight" (the latter makes references to Katrina and "Georgie"), make the man who captured the nation's youth with songs like "Travelin' Band" and "Up Around The Bend" sound like a cranky grandfather who just can't deal with the crazy things going on today. It's a matter of being able to sum up a mood in more general fashion, rather than having to use obvious references to make a point. There are other highlights here, including the lovely ballad, "Broken Down Cowboy" and the gospel-tinged "River Is Waiting." On his best CCR \albums and even on early solo discs. Fogerty always took a few songs someone else had written - "Susie Q," "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and even "Lonely Teardrops - and made them his own. Hearing him take his own unique stab at his favorite songs by others might be more welcome than listening to some of his more obvious material. This is a man who has written countless classics, and the bar is high. Even with two-thirds of a five-star album, Fogerty makes the jump.