John Fogerty is a national treasure.
Yet, even though John Fogerty's legacy as one of the greatest songwriters in all of rock history is assured, it seems like it has been far too long since he truly hit one out of the park. In fact, you could probably go as far back as the baseball themed Centerfield to find Fogerty's last truly enduring record. The title track of course lives on in ball parks everywhere as something of an unofficial theme song for America's favorite pasttime.
Fogerty has certainly had his share of decent enough songs in the years since though. The politically on-point song "Deja Vu All Over Again," from his last solo album in 2004 comes immediately to mind — even if it is essentially a rewrite of his old Creedence Clearwater Revival hit "Who'll Stop The Rain." But for the last time Fogerty put together a truly memorable string of great songs, you'd probably have to go back as far as, well Creedence.
With his return to Fantasy Records — the label on which all those great Creedence records were originally released, and the label with which he was embroiled in a bitter legal battle for many years over those same songs — Fogerty appears to be ready for a return to the major leagues.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Revival, his new album for Fantasy, is the fact that Fogerty also seems ready to re-embrace his past with Creedence. Even the album title seems to indicate that Fogerty has come to terms with the songs he refused to play onstage for many years. On one of this album's best songs, Fogerty even urges the listener that "you can't go wrong if you play a little bit of that Creedence song," as his instantly recognizable swampy guitar sound brings the point home. The song is aptly named as it rocks exactly the way a Creedence song should.
On this album Fogerty expertly brings together each and every element that has made his best songs such an integral part of the American musical landscape for decades now. On "Broken Down Cowboy," Fogerty gives his subject just enough of that country
twang to make it believable. On "River Is Waiting," Fogerty even pulls out a relaxed sounding sort of jazz shuffle, but adds guitar flourishes that at times mine the blues territory of someone like B.B. King. Not exactly the sort of swampy river song you'd most often associate with Fogerty, but effective nonetheless.
But it is when Fogerty cuts loose with rockers like "Long Dark Night," that you remember just how underrated a guitarist he really is. Fogerty has never been of those guys mentioned in the same breath as the Eric Claptons of the world. Rightfully, he is more often recognized as a songwriter. Yet his guitar sound ranks as one of a very small handful that can be instantly recognized — sometimes within a single note.