John Fogerty, Mr. CCR himself, has a new album called Revival due out October 2nd. This one is getting a lot of pre-release hype, and it's being hailed as Fogerty's best work since his Creedence Clearwater Revival days.
Umm, no. It's not bad, and musically it's actually kinda great, but I haven't heard so many wince-inducing couplets since I ... well, since I sang a couple of those Vineyard choruses yesterday morning. Never mind. But if this rock 'n roll thing goes down the tubes, John, you probably have a big career ahead of you rhyming "loss" and "cross" and "grace" and face."
The good news is that Fogerty sounds absolutely fabulous. His voice, which is a force a nature, one of the greatest rock 'n roll sledgehammers ever, is still miraculously in its prime. And certainly he rocks harder here than he has at any time during his sporadic solo career. Fogerty gets in his scathing digs at the current presidential administration and actually conjures up the old dread of "Bad Moon Rising" on "Long Dark Night," the highlight of the album. There are two short rockabilly numbers here -- "It Ain't Right" and "I Can't Take It No More" -- that will have longtime fans recalling "Travelin' Band." And "Creedence Song" (not the only piece of self-referential work on the album) whips up that old, familiar swamp boogie that fueled albums like Bayou Country and Green River.
The bad news is that Fogerty doesn't have a poetic bone in his body, and he can only present ideas in hackneyed Hallmark Card cliches that I would like to think even the Hallmark company would have the good sense to reject. There's a lot of wistful hearkening back to the Summer of Love (including the song "Summer of Love," which manages the considerable feat of stealing the guitar riffs from both Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love"). There's a lot of cowboy imagery, in which John claims that what the country needs is a good gunslinger (which I thought he had labeled as the problem in "Long Dark Night," but maybe it's only a problem when the gunslingers are in the White House). Then there is the album's first single "Don't You Wish It Was True?," in which John opines that it sure would be swell if everybody loved each other. Don't come looking for deep thoughts. Or consistency.
So consider it a decidedly uneven effort. This is one time when singing the proverbial phone book would have been preferable to the actual lyrics.