Saturday, November 3, 2007


I've said it before: John Fogerty is one of the greats. And he's still great. His new album, Revival, is one of the best things I've heard all year, and might be the best thing he's done since Creedence Clearwater Revival. I am a fan of his Blue Moon Swamp and Centerfield albums, but I think this one is better, and will really hold up as his best post-CCR work.

I wrote about the first single, "Don't You Wish It Was True," before the album came out, but now that I've lived with the album, I can certainly say that the whole thing is great. "Creedence Song" is a great statement, saying that he has finally made peace with his past. "River Is Wide" is different than anything he's ever done, it's a gorgeous song. "Long Dark Night" and "I Can't Take It No More" are great protest songs in the vein of "Fortunate Son" and "Deja Vu (All Over Again)." Some people feel that rock stars should "shut up and sing," to quote The Dixie Chicks. Personally, Fogerty's protest songs make me even more proud to be a fan. (Plus, John has a fairly conservative fan base: I really think he's putting himself out there by criticizing the president in a song.) "Broken Down Cowboy" is great too. The only one I don't dig is "Summer Of Love": we know, the summer of love was great. Thing is, I thought John wasn't into the whole hippie scene anyway. I think that stuff is best left to Crosby, Stills & Nash.

There's been a bit of noise on the web about clear channel not playing certain new records, notably Bruce Springsteen's Magic as well as Revival, and the insinuation has been that it's politically motivated, as clear channel is a very pro-bush conservative company. I think the truth of the matter is a bit different: it's not politically motivated, it's cut-and-dried ageism. Bruce is 58, Fogerty I think is 62, cc doesn't think that anyone wants to hear their new music. I think it's just more of a dumb/timid-radio mentality thing than an evil republican thing.

Anyway, last night I got to see opening night of Fogerty's tour at NY's Hammerstein Ballroom. Pretty amazing. It started off a bit weird. Doors were supposed to be at 7:30, they didn't let people in until almost 9, even though you could hear John and the band rocking from outside. Apparently it was a last rehearsal/show for friends and family. That was weird. Then, before he went on, they played a bunch of Fogerty songs on the PA. You don't usually hear that. Then, John entered the stage via a hydraulic lift from below, on a background that created the effect of his album cover: John's silouette against an orange sky. He doesn't usually do that kind of production thing. The beginning of the show was a bit rough for me: the floor of the Hammerstein Ballroom is awful if you're not tall, and they totally oversold tickets. If you're on the floor, you really can't see, and if you move back by the bar, the ceiling is lower, so it messes up the sound. it was a few songs before my friend and I found a spot where we could see and hear.

Anyway, it was a great show. John's band, anchored by the awesome drummer Kenny Aaronoff, did the material proud - and then some. John sounded amazing, and played some songs that I'd never seen him do, including "Bootleg" and one of my favorites, "Ramble Tamble." I was surprised that, before "Creedence Song," he talked a bit about the band - he famously hates his former bandmates, and couldn't even make peace with his brother Tom (CCR's other guitarist) on his deathbed. But last night, he discussed how, these days, he only thinks about the good times. That's a big change for him. He is such a talented musician, and seems to be a great guy (I've had really cool experiences interviewing him), it's good to see him leave his anger in the past. Maybe he's also realized that bush is worse than all the ex-bandmates in the world combined. I'm glad he's moved on to a positive space in his life. Anyway, I highly recommend the album, and if you're a fan, you should definitely see this tour.

Funny moment from the show: watching Paul Schaeffer (in a private balcony box) playing air guitar to one of the songs).

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