Album review: John Fogerty, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again (2009)


By Steve Newton

Fans of John Fogerty’s southern swamp-boogie might not be thrilled by his latest CD, which—apart from a rootsy remake of his 1986 stomper “Change in the Weather”—is a collection of country music covers. It’s a throwback to his 1973 solo debut, The Blue Ridge Rangers, which came out a year after the final Creedence Clearwater Revival studio album, Mardi Gras.

Fogerty scored a top-40 hit with Hank Williams’s “Jambalaya” on the first Rangers outing, handling all the instruments himself, but this time around he recruited A-list players like Greg Leisz, whose soaring pedal-steel guitar graces nearly every track.

Anyone expecting barnburners like “Fortunate Son” should note that Fogerty has seriously toned down the rockin’ here, going the goody-two-shoes route on John Denver’s “Back Home Again” and Rickie Nelson’s “Garden Party” (the latter made extra sucky by the vocals of Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit). Long-time Fogerty fan Bruce Springsteen shows up to sing on a so-so version of the Everly Brothers’ 1960 hit “When Will I Be Loved”.

More impressive is Robert L. Geddins’s “Haunted House”, wherein Leisz’s steel guitar vies with the fiddle of Jason Mowery for shit-kicker prominence; and John Prine’s 1971 coal-mining saga “Paradise”, which opens the CD on a bluegrassy note infused by Mowery’s down-home fiddle, dobro, and mandolin work.

The best thing about Rides Again isn’t the classic material, the big-name guests, or the top-notch session players; it’s Fogerty’s unmistakable voice, raspy and righteous as ever. And now that he’s gotten his Nashville-style jollies again, here’s hoping he heads back to the swamp real soon.

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