John Fogerty

Just as Sandy Koufax pitched his way to baseball immortality in half a dozen transcendent seasons with the Dodgers, John Fogerty's five meteoric years with Creedence Clearwater Revival earned him a spot in rock music's pantheon. His output post-CCR has been spotty, in part owing to legal disputes with his old label. But this year brought the aptly titled Revival, a 12-song tour through Fogerty's musical soul, vintage 2007. The strongest songs on the album showcase Fogerty's triple threat: a genius for paper cut-sharp lyrics, a bell-clear tenor and a fuzzy, trebly guitar sound that matches the first two. "Don't You Wish It Was True" lulls you into thinking its the melodic equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup, then reveals itself as an ironic fist in a velvet glove. Ditto "Gunslinger," a loping call for a new sheriff ("somebody tough to tame this town") that evokes "Who'll Stop the Rain?" (Clearly Giuliani, Romney, et al., need not apply.) Further down the road, though, the gloves come off, and the songs suffer some for their blatancy. "Long Dark Night" is an explicit critique of the Bush administration scantily clad in the swamp-rock duds of "Green River," while "I Can't Take It No More" name-checks "Fortunate Son" as it savages the Iraq War. Still, you can't shake that keening voice—or the guitar—and it doesn't hurt that Fogerty's backing band on Revival features a pair of legends: drummer Kenny Aronoff and Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on keyboards. Though it's Fogerty's first release in three years, spontaneity runs through Revival, evidence of the joy that went into making it. These might not be songs for the ages, but for the duration they'll more than do.

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Tom Finkel
Contact: Tom Finkel