Album review: John Fogerty, Eye of the Zombie (1986)


By Steve Newton

John Fogerty found himself with a hard act to follow after 1985’s top-notch Centerfield album. While his new LP. Eye of the Zombie, is far from being a bad record, it still doesn’t contain any tracks that match Centerfield‘s title track or “The Old Man Down the Road”.

After a celestial and boring three-and-a-half-minute opener called “Goin’ Back Home”, pounding drums, throbbing bass, and Fogerty’s immediately recognizable guitar riffs lead into “Eye of the Zombie”, a stomping tale of some long-dead creature back in town to raise a little hell. The song includes a searing solo by Fogerty, and bodes well for the rest of the album, but it’s as good as things are gonna get.

The next tune, “Headlines”, is an okay bit of boogie, complete with raunchy, squealing guitar, but it’s missing that certain something that makes good rock tunes stick in your head. It’s followed by the swaying, Motown-ish R&B feel of “Knockin’ On Your Door”, which is pleasing enough, and shows another musical side of Fogerty, but fans of his old band (Creedence Clearwater Revival) may be a bit put off.

Lyrically, Fogerty has left the light-hearted odes to baseball behind, and taken a swipe at more serious topics, like arms manufacturers in “Violence Is Golden”: “Pass another plate of shrapnel/Sprinkle it with TNT/Gotta have another grenade salad/Split it with your enemy/Gotta sell another Uzi/Maybe couple 44 Mags/Got a wife and a kid to support/And a payment on the Jag.”

Like Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Fogerty is not impressed with the way people such as Lionel Richie and Tina Turner make big bucks endorsing junk-food drinks. His feelings come through quite clearly on “Soda Pop”: “Take a million dollars baby/Put it in my hand/Put my favourite retouched photo/On the cola can…/There’s a generation out there/Waitin’ to be tapped/If we play our cards right baby/We’ll be sittin’ fat.”

Fogerty handles keyboards as well as guitar and vocals on most of the songs here, and is joined by the formidable rhythm section of ex-Rufus and Chaka Khan drummer John Robinson and bassist Neil Stubenhaus. The playing on Eye of the Zombie is definitely up to par, and Fogerty’s voice is always hard to beat, but song-for-song Centerfield still takes the cake.



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