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Music Review: John Fogerty – Revival

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Written by El Conquistadorko

Back in the 1960s, John Fogerty and his band Creedence Clearwater Revival churned out an incredible series of swampy blues and folk songs so convincingly rootsy that a lot of people still think the band hailed from somewhere in the deep south. Of course, the band was actually part of San Francisco’s psychedelic rock movement and none of its members had even been south of the Mason Dixon Line when they got famous. But what made Creedence truly genius was John Fogerty’s epic lyrics. In anthems like “Effigy,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son,” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” — Fogerty captured the turbulence sweeping America without once singing the words “Vietnam,” “Richard Nixon,” or “flower power.”

Oh what a difference four decades makes. Now, 40 years after the Summer of Love, Fogerty has released his best solo album to date, a straight-forward collection of electric blues and rockabilly-inspired tunes that sounds a lot like Creedence in its heyday. A lot of Revival sounds like pure nostalgia. “Lookin’ out across this town/ kinda makes me wonder how/ all the things that made us great/ got left so far behind,” Fogerty sings in “Gunslinger.” A few songs later, in a song called — groan — “Summer of Love,” Fogerty seems to be trying to say something important about the decade that shook the world, but it’s not clear what. “It was the Summer of Love/ so many people on the move/ flower children lookin’ for the truth/ will they find it or just excuse.”

Huh? Just excuse what? Fogerty never really explains, and instead moves on to more current events in songs like “Long Dark Night.” “Georgie’s in the jungle/ knockin’ on the door/ come to get your children/ wants to have a war.” The rest of the song references Hurricane Katrina — “Brownie’s in the outhouse/ Katrina’s on the line/ Gulf is a disaster/ but Georgie says its fine” — and rips on Bush’s cabinet — “Rummie’s in the kitchen/ messin’ with the pans/ Dickie’s in the back/ stealin’ everything he can.”

Things don’t get a whole lot better on “I Can’t Take it No More,” the album’s closing track. “You know you lied about the casualties/ you know you lied about the WMDs/ you know you lied about the detainees/ all over this world,” Fogerty wails. “Your daddy wrote a check and there you are/ another Fortunate Son.”

It’s hard to disagree with Fogerty’s politics and the music’s pretty damn good, but what America needs now are artists like Fogerty was 40 years ago, folks who can write a good tune and come up with lyrics that reflect the crazy shit that’s happening today, instead of trying to be cute and sounding like an intern at MoveOn.org.

The closest he comes to doing this is on “Don’t You Wish it Was True,” the album’s first song. “I dreamed I walked in Heaven/ just the other night/ there was so much beauty/ so much light/ don’t you wish it was true.” Yes, we do. We just wish the rest of Revival was more like this, and less like John Fogerty trying so hard to be like John Fogerty.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Jim in Portland

    I agree that we need artists today that are like John Fogerty was 40 years ago, but with the music industry so vast and idol’d up these days, I don’t see that happening. There are a few bright stars out there, but the pioneering days of the rock band seem long gone.

    As far as John Fogerty trying to be like John Fogerty, I say HUH??. I’m a 53 year old fan and and have been waiting for this kind of album for a long time. I love it. Further, I think it’s great that I can still go out and buy brand new music from most of the rock stars I grew up with. Younger folks can laugh all they want, but my generation is going to rock to the very end and then POOF, we’ll be gone….I don’t really care what anybody thinks, I’ll just keep on rockin’ and “You can’t go wrong if you play a little bit of that Creedence song”….dew dew!

  • Kim in Iowa

    I’m not a professional reviewer, and I’m not an expert a deciphering lyrics, but I know one thing, this is the album of the year. Fogerty has never sounded better, and still rocks the young dudes under the table at age 62. This album sounds like a mixture of Fogerty and Creedence….and why shouldn’t it? Fogerty WAS Creedence, and sings (and writes) with a wisdom that only a person who barely escaped Vietnam and lived in those times could offer. A fantastic album.