May 29, 2013

Album Review: Fogerty and Friends Revisit Creedence, Solo Classics

John Fogerty is one of those indispensable figures in rock ‘n’ roll, having penned some of the most enduring and relevant songs in its history. The music he made with Creedence Clearwater Revival, particularly, struck such a crucial nerve in the era of Vietnam and Kent State and Watergate that’s it’s of little wonder why those songs have continued to matter to people in more recent years of rampant war and social and political unease. It’s also among the most distinctive music ever made, from John Fogerty’s countrified drawl to the thick-and-sturdy rhythm section of bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford to guitarist Tom Fogerty’s crunchy riffs. Covering such classics would be a tall order for anyone, but for the guy who wrote them to revisit them invites an altogether different kind of scrutiny.  

These songs were built to last, though, and with Wrote a Song for Everyone (Vanguard Records) Fogerty has found new ways for them to thrive. A slew of guests join him here, adding new energy and in some cases new perspectives to some of his most familiar CCR and solo recordings.  

It’s not hard to understand how country artists could feel an affinity for this music — old Creedence albums arguably sound more country than a lot of mainstream country does today — and contributions from Alan Jackson on “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and Miranda Lambert on the title track, which also features Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, are among the album’s most compelling moments.

Other highlights emerge when the guest artists effectively make the songs their own. Bob Seger, for instance, sings “Wholl Stop the Rain” like hes been singing it for years already. Same thing with Dawes and My Morning Jacket, who yield fresh insights to “Someday Never Comes” and “Long As I Can See the Light,” respectively. And on “Proud Mary,” Jennifer Hudson recalls an Ike and Tina vibe to an otherwise Cajun-twisted arrangement courtesy of Allen Toussaint in grand, Southern-fried style. Fogerty is on hand throughout, of course — he sings two new tracks on his own, “Mystic Highway” and “Train of Fools,” which are as good as anything he’s written since his CCR days — but the songs are the real stars of this all-star album.