Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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John Fogerty

  • John Fogerty [Asylum, 1975] B
  • Centerfield [Warner Bros., 1985] B+
  • Eye of the Zombie [Warner Bros., 1986] B
  • Blue Moon Swamp [Warner Bros., 1997] Neither
  • Deja Vu All Over Again [Geffen, 2004] Dud
  • The Long Road Home [Fantasy, 2005] A
  • Revival [Fantasy, 2007] Choice Cuts
  • The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again [Fortunate Son/Verve Forecast, 2009] Choice Cuts
  • Wrote a Song for Everyone [Vanguard, 2013] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

John Fogerty [Asylum, 1975]
The best singing here is at medium tempos--Fogerty sounds distraught for no reason when he rocks out, and the revved-up horns just push him harder. But the best songwriting is on the fast side-openers--"Rockin' All Over the World" and "Almost Saturday Night," neither of which could be called an illumination. This is what happens when rock devolves from a calling into an idea--you can't even be absolutely certain it's him rather than you, but you know he'll never get away with it twice. B

Centerfield [Warner Bros., 1985]
The hosannas and precious metal showered on this slight, self-centered reentry tempt one to overlook its slight, self-centered virtues. Fogerty's drumming has definitely sharpened, though he doesn't hold up the break on "Zanz Can't Dance" any better than Doug Clifford would have, and cut for cut Centerfield is catchier than his previous effort--he had nine years to come up with the tunes, after all. But the material just isn't Creedence-quality. The mythopoeic genre piece "The Old Man Down the Road" was the keynote single not out of commercial caution but because it's the strongest thing on the record, yet does anyone claim it's the equal of "Proud Mary" or "Green River" or even "Rockin' All Over the World"? And is anyone foolish enough to believe that the generalized "Mr. Greed" (not to mention the simpy "I Saw It on T.V.") has the teeth of "Don't Look Now" or "Fortunate Son," or that his first-ever career resumé "Centerfield" is a personal statement to compare with "Lookin' Out My Back Door"--in short, that the genre pieces are illuminated by visionary flashes, which is what made Creedence a great band to begin with? B+

Eye of the Zombie [Warner Bros., 1986]
With his compact songs and workingman's aura, Fogerty was an outsider in the '60s. In the '80s, with his San Fran contemporaries either cozying up to MTV or peddling nostalgia on the bar circuit, it's clear that he took the visionary fallacies of the time as deeply to heart as Jerry Garcia himself, and good for him. Then as now he had no interest in fashion, which is why his music retains an undeniable modicum of interest. But like they say, the '60s are over. B

Blue Moon Swamp [Warner Bros., 1997] Neither

Deja Vu All Over Again [Geffen, 2004] Dud

The Long Road Home [Fantasy, 2005]
Every 60-year-old rocker wants to prove he can still bring it with a chronology-defying overview. Juxtaposing gritty youth and spiritual maturity, early songs you can't forget and late ones you think you remember, the clumsy group he came to hate and the crusty self he can't live without, John Fogerty reels in that dream. His formal compass is so narrow and the Creedence sound so replicable that whatever a track's provenance--some classics get the live-in-aught-five treatment, including a second "Fortunate Son"--he's always the original roots-rocker displaying the modest facets of his less than glittering personality. Nostalgists may gripe that he sacrifices "Grapevine" and "Suzie Q" to his creativity and royalty statements. But face it, the covers went on too long. They were the band and the band warn't him. Get it? A

Revival [Fantasy, 2007]
"I Can't Take It No More," "Long Dark Night" Choice Cuts

The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again [Fortunate Son/Verve Forecast, 2009]
"Paradise," "Never Ending Song of Love" Choice Cuts

Wrote a Song for Everyone [Vanguard, 2013]
Best cameos by Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, and, hmm, the Foo Fighters, and as a few solo shots prove, he needs 'em ("Fortunate Son," "Wrote a Song for Everyone," "Hot Rod Heart") *

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