Practically every old god who's ascended into the heaven known as classic rock radio — Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Eric Clapton (whose autobiography is already on The New York Times bestseller list) — is coming back around this fall. John Fogerty is back too, and it's pretty clear he will see the least amount of media and critical attention, even though he might have the best new CD of the lot.
You have to start with the title, Revival, which not only describes his return but also hints at Fogerty's classic band. That is significant because Fogerty was forever embroiled in a bitter feud against Creedence Clearwater Revival's label, Fantasy, over royalties. He has avoided playing CCR songs live and even put "Zanz Can't Dance," his shot at Fantasy head Saul Zaentz on his 1985 album Centerfield. (A lawsuit did force Fogerty to change the title to "Vanz Can't Dance.") But now that Zaentz is no longer associated with Fantasy, Fogerty has returned to the label and is clearly at peace with the past.
That is evident on "Creedence Song," a celebration of the old band that is one of the highlights of the CD, and from the energy that Fogerty brings to the entire album. The material isn't a departure. Fogerty's guitar and voice remain as distinct and familiar as ever. The sound is bare — guitar, drums, and bass — but it's played so tight and bright that it comes across like the DNA of rock-and-roll.
Perhaps it helps that Fogerty has a new target for his angst: George Bush. "A Long Dark Night" and "I Can't Take It No More" spell out Fogerty's case against Bush and the Iraq war in bold letters. "I Can't Take It No More" is particularly furious, coming on as fast and angry as any punk song pounded out by twentysomethings.
Of course, Fogerty is long past his 20s, but on Revival he has captured a bit of the magic that put him on top in the first place. Ears old and young should rejoice. — Werner Trieschmann