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John Fogerty: The Long Road Home
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

Sure he’s more rock than county. But in these times where the crossover lines blur easily, he’s still an act who can pull fans from both camps. His music, stamped with a heritage that is John Fogerty, enjoys play, and often, by many and varied country acts.

Now, for those who may have never seen the Fogerty phenomenon, he’s done devotees and would-be fans a favor – he’s released The Long Road Home. The DVD follows on from his Premonition live DVD from 1998. Like that DVD, The Long Road Home captures Fogerty doing what only he can do – belting out a string of hits that spans decades, all wrapped in familiar guitar chords, packaged in a voice that claims attention.

From the moment he saunters on stage, Fogerty claims that attention. “Hello, how are ya?” he asks. The capacity crowd at the Wiltern Theatre, Los Angeles, California, on September 15, 2005, responded as expected – loud and with all the frenzy of a sonic boom. The fans had come to party against a well charted backdrop of hits, and swamp rock’s favored poster boy wasn’t going to let them down. “What I’m about is playin’ rock and roll, so let’s get to it.” And for the next 95 minutes and 26 memory-mapped tunes, “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play, today, “rings true.

Fogerty is the Berkeley, CA, born former iconic face and voice of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The legendary band spawned a succession of chart high-fliers -- “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” -- among many others. In a short but productive time span (67-72) they collected eight consecutive gold albums, released seven double-sided hits and went on to be branded as the greatest singles band in America. Then as quickly as the fame came, it went. CCR, driven by increasing creativity problems within the band, officially ended in October, ’72.

John Fogerty, clearly recognized as the driving force of CCR --he wrote, produced and sang the hits – went on to the Blue Ridge Rangers, producing a memory-soaked album on which he played all the instruments on the covers set, and, even 33 years on, it still stands tall. A solo album followed. Then, silence. A silence etched out of label hassles and business contractuals with CCR’s label. It effectively sidelined Fogerty for nearly ten years.

Jump forward to recent years. Fogerty, revitalized and ready, let loose in ’97 with the eagerly awaited Blue Moon Swamp. It was a stellar return which awarded a Grammy for Best Rock Album in 1998. Fogerty was back. And back big. Premonition and Deja Vu All Over Again, both standout albums offering original work, proved to the diehards Fogerty hadn’t lost anything, if truthful, his work proved that fan fondness comes with absence. 

The Long Road Home is, in essence, a musical nod to the times, both bitter and sweet, that have returned JF to his rightful place in modern rock and country. The DVD proves just what a performer the man voted the 40th best guitarist in rock by Billboard has to offer. Vibrant and fuelled with the confidence of knowing what you promise you can deliver, Fogerty struts, runs, charges and claims the stage as his own. The voice, raw and familiar has never sounded better. When he breaks loose with the vocally demanding entrée “Travelin’ Band,” relax, reach for the volume remote, settle back and watch. This is one heck of a show.

Fogerty and his band – Bob Britt on guitar, the beanie-wearing John Molo on drums, Billy Burnette on guitar, George Hawkins Junior on bass and Matt Nolen on keyboards and guitar – cover all the hits, doing it with a proven and recognizable formula. It worked then. It works now. Fogerty is having fun. And we know it. When his overworked guitar technician, a guy who huddles in the shadows giving JF a new guitar for each new tune, we, the fans, wait with a tingled expectancy – what’s he going to play next? We’re never disappointed.

Note perfect, smooth and harmony-rich, Fogerty and band keep the music coming, sprinkled with just the right amount of banter to keep the audience connection alive. But it’s the music, including tracks like “Green River,” “Lodi,” and the politically inspired “Who’ll Stop The Rain” (“Déjà vu (All Over Again”), serves a modern day same purpose here) that creates the bond. Newer cuts like “Hot Rod Heart,” Rambunctious Boy” and “She’s Got Baggage” keep the recently converted up to speed. “Centerfield” (still my most favorite JF song), “Down On The Corner” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Run Through The Jungle” have enough charge to offer unexpected time travel to older listeners, while sparking interest in the younger faces seen in the crowd.

What a performance. What a performer. It’s been a long road home; John, welcome back. We’ve missed you.

 
Click on the CD cover to order yours!

1: Travelin’ Band
2: Green River
3: Who’ll Stop The Rain
4: Blue Moon Nights
5: Lodi
6: Lookin’ Out My Back Door
7: Hot Rod Heart
8: Rambunctious Boy
9: She’s Got Baggage
10: Born On The Bayou
11: Bootleg
12: Run Through The Jungle
13: Déjà vu (All Over Again)
14: Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
15: Tombstone Shadow
16: Keep On Chooglin’
17: Sweet Hitch Hiker
18: Hey Tonight
19: Down On The Corner
20: Centerfield
21: Up Around The Bend
22: The Old Man Down The Road
23: Fortunate Son
24: Bad Moon Rising
25: Rockin’ All Over The World
26: Proud Mary
Bonus Track
Déjà vu (All Over Again) 


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