Thursday: John Fogerty's Travelin' Band Hits LA
Henry Rollins once reminded us about John Fogerty, “The man was born in Berkeley, California - there’s not a bayou within two thousand miles!” But despite a lack of physical proximity, Fogerty absorbed a feel for the American heartland through records, and the songs he wrote at the end of the sixties have only added to its mythology. Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the most stubbornly tradition-minded of Bay Area bands during the psychedelic era, gleefully hooting about listening to Buck Owens when stating such a preference was an unnerving freak-flag to the other freaks. With songs like “Out My Back Door” and “Lodi”, they pretty much invented country-rock as it would come to be known a few years later. But CCR was also in on the revolution, and no one who’s heard “Fortunate Son” or “Run Through The Jungle” could mistake them for reactionaries. The body of work they produced in just six years together is among the most revered and influential in American music, a touchstone that Toby Keith and the Minutemen can both raise a glass to.Those Buck Owens records are clearly still on Fogerty’s mind, as he covers one of them on his latest album The Blue Ridge Rangers… Rides Again. Similar to the original Blue Ridge Rangers album from 1973, it’s a collection of American songs that don’t have much in common besides Fogerty liking them. Unlike that pure solo effort, however, he’s enlisted some very fine traditional players for this effort, and the liner notes suggest a hootenanny-like atmosphere at the sessions, working out the tunes quickly, recording them in a few takes and finishing the whole thing in about a week. It’s a gentle good time, a bit sleepy in some places (could a John Denver cover be anything but?) but wakes up around the midpoint with some inspired singing and picking on simple, heartfelt songs. It’s kind of hard not to like. Guest spots from Bruce Springsteen and members of the Eagles aren’t necessarily a selling point, but let’s just say, they manage to avoid screwing anything up.