John Fogerty, “Revival” [Concord Music]

Swamp King
 

January, 2008

 

                                             

Put some salt on the rim of that margarita and get ready to rock to John Fogerty’s latest disc, Revival. Revival really gets going after the first couple of numbers. Starting with the beautiful ballad, “Broken Down Cowboy,” Fogerty takes a creative turn on the road and never looks back. “Broken Down Cowboy” is anchored by David Santos’ deep bass rifts, the ballast of Kenny Aronoff’s huge kick drum, and Fogerty’s smooth voice crackling with feeling over crisply defined acoustic guitar. This song will remain in your head for a long, long time. Ditto for the next song, “River Is Waiting,” a gem of a spiritual penned by Fogerty reaching up tender and high while Benmont Tench adds some deep, rich Hammond B-3 colors to the mix. One could fish in these beautiful, southern spiritual waters for many a day.

But Fogerty does not let his creative juices rest here. First, he offers a power chord journey, “Summer of Love,” putting some soaring southern swamp rock rifts into a Cream based anthem. Next, he weaves Aronoff’s resounding percussion into the propulsive “Natural Thing,” a playful rocker with Fogerty showcasing both tender and gritty vocals. The sound of this recording nicely captures Fogerty’s exuberant vocal style, which now in his middle years, is tinged with a deeper tone. From the playful “Natural Thing,” Fogerty launches into a raging furnace of swamp blues heat to target the current political scene with no mercy. First, we get pulled into the kitchen on “Long Dark Night,” in which Fogerty finds: “Rummie’s messinwith the pans and Dickie’s in the back stealin’ everything he can.” Political tragedy from (hurricane) Katrina to “Georgie’s dirty war,” is painted here on Fogerty’s broad canvas utilizing raging guitar licks and soaring vocals, with Aronoff’s mighty drum and cymbal crashes providing the foundation. Echoing the frenetic energy of the classic Creedence song, “Traveling Man,” Fogerty follows “Long Dark Night” with the devastating, “I Can’t Take It No More.” In a little over one minute, Fogerty and his band take on everything from Guantanamo detainees to Bush’s “beating that dead horse” as to why we are in Iraq. All of this is developed within the crucible of blazing Rock and Roll, which has always been a great vehicle for political outcry.

With the final two brilliant rockers on this disc, Fogerty seems to say: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” First, he gives us the slow burning “Somebody Help Me,” which starts with a couple of deep guitar chords and the entrance of Aronoff’s crisply defined snare and cymbal work. The snarling guitar licks from Fogerty and fellow guitarist Hunter Perrin on this number remind one of passages taken from Creedence’s Cosmos Factory territory, wide and deep. Fogerty then packs a final wallop in the concluding “Longshot,” another straight rocker that targets political big shots, hangers-on and sweet talkers. The final guitar blasts and hits from Aronoff’s huge drumkit are left to linger like smoke in the surrounding air, putting a final exclamation point to this poignant rocker. Revival shows Fogerty in his rejuvenated rocking prime, strutting his anger and vehemence like a snake about to uncoil, searching for a better world.

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