Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Lodi on 34th Street

Since I avoid '60s comebacks like my own funeral, I ignored John Fogerty's first live appearance here in over a decade, just as I had over a decade ago. But sources almost young enough to know better urged me to beg a late ticket from Manhattan Center, where I arrived to find Fogerty stuck there in "Lodi" again. And while it wasn't as intense as Sleater-Kinney or Spring Heel Jack, I wasn't bored once by 28 songs lasting two hours and 10 minutes. Crucially, the set glanced off the perfectly creditable Blue Moon Swamp, Fogerty's fifth count-'em fifth solo album since Creedence broke up in 1972, instead celebrating the book of a band that released five count-'em five classic albums in just two years, 1969 and 1970--songs whose pop concision seemed as slick to yesterday's edgesters as their folk assumptions seem quaint to today's. At 52, Fogerty looked more youthful than most of a crowd whose median age we'll call 44. Preserved in modesty for a quarter century, his raceless roots-rock drawl and eerie high end have barely deepened, much less cracked, and his once-scrawny guitar held its own against three-time Olympian Kenny Aronoff, the most overpowering show drummer in rock history. On "Suzie Q," Fogerty brought off the kind of rich, undulating, blues-drenched, resonantly choked solo that seemed ecstatically liberating in 1967 and technocorporately oppressive by 1975--and that's now an honorable pop alternative, like a solid swing arrangement. But better still was when the band stripped down to rockabilly scale, with Aronoff banging on tiny kit anchored by what looked like a sideways tom. This was Lodi, where rock lives--and roots rock.

Village Voice 1997