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DVD Review: John Fogerty: The Long Road Home in Concert (2006)

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Let's just get this out of the way from the top: Creedence Clearwater Revival was John Fogerty. He was responsible for the sound, the vocals, the writing, the production, the everything that was Creedence. Today, almost a quarter of a century after the band broke up, John Fogerty is still Creedence Clearwater Revival — and he sounds every bit as fresh as he did in those halcyon hippie days.

How an Irish-American boy from the San Francisco area was able to channel swamp roots music into a palatable rock idiom is one of the Great Questions that will most likely never be answered and is probably best left a mystery – but he did. And the footprint he left on rock and roll cannot be overstated. Proof you want? Proof I got.

Elke and I were watching The Long Road Home In Concert for maybe the third time last night when Fogerty and his band launched into a rousing rendition of "Down On the Bayou." Now, I've been married to Elke for 15 years, so I know she has an affinity for Creedence (to put it mildly) and she's also been known to play a relatively mean Les Paul on occasion. What I didn't know was that Creedence was her introduction to American rock and roll of that time.

German commercial radio back then played a lot of light pop but virtually no rock. The pirate station Radio Luxembourg, on the other hand, was known for blues and psychedelia. And it was on Radio Luxembourg one night that Elke just happened to hear "Suzy Q," the Dale Hawkins rockabilly song that launched Creedence into the spotlight. And from that moment, Elke just had to have an electric guitar.

Okay, that was very anecdotal, but it made me think – if that song could have that much impact on a girl from Tuttlingen, Germany, imagine what it must have done to the kids stateside. Here we are, nearly 40 years later, and the answer is self-evident. If there were any doubts before, The Long Road Home In Concert will dispel them in a nanosecond.

Filmed 15 September 2005 at LA's Wiltern Theatre, The Long Road Home In Concert hits the ground running with Fogerty and his band ripping into, appropriately enough, "Travelin' Band" and segues into "Green River." The 61-year-old rocker has made contact with an audience largely composed of people a generation and a half removed from him and he wastes no time immersing them into his world.

Make no mistake about it – this DVD is not a movie. It would be a stretch to label it a documentary. It's a dead-on concert film. Martin Atkins' direction never aspires to be anything more than that. But it is precisely because of that approach that, throughout the show, we are left with the distinct impression that Fogerty is a man vindicated after those years of legal wrangling with ex-bandmates and Fantasy Records.

Fantasy actually sued him (unsuccessfully) for plagiarizing his own work with "The Old Man Down the Road." It takes on an especially triumphant tone in this performance and perfectly counterpoints "Run Through the Jungle". (The tune he allegedly plagiarized from himself.)

"What I'm about is just playin' rock and roll, so let's get to it," Fogerty proclaims at the very beginning, and that's what he does for nearly 100 minutes on this DVD. And for almost all of those 100 minutes, you are left with no doubt that this is the John Fogerty show — he is center stage throughout and loving every minute of it.

All the obligatory Creedence classics are here from "Proud Mary" to "Fortunate Son" to "Born on the Bayou" — the list goes on — as well as songs from his solo career, including "Centerfield" and "Bootleg." In all, the songlist is made up of 26 songs and not one misses its mark.

This was one fun concert and this DVD documents it as what it was — there are no intercut interviews, no attempt at social relevance, nothing artsy — just a recording of a brilliant show that makes you feel you were there. That is to director Atkins' credit — he skillfully intercuts between a floor POV and a back-of-the-stage viewpoint and does it with such nonchalance that you don't even notice.

To Fogerty's credit, he immerses you in his world. This is not a nostalgia act — it's Americana that’s every bit as relevant today as it was 35 years ago.

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About Ray Ellis

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

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