John Fogerty nails it on his latest guitar-driven, high-voltage revival of his CCR hits.
By David Fricke in Rolling Stone
n the late Sixties and early Seventies, John Fogerty was rock & roll's Voice of America. On the five Top 10 LPs and seven straight Top Five singles that he wrote, sang and produced with Creedence Clearwater Revival from late 1968 to 1971, Fogerty recharged the scruffy, fundamental poetry of folk, country, blues and rockabilly with shredded-vocal passion, searing-guitar hooks and taut, incisive observations on the state of our democracy. The America in "Proud Mary," "Lodi" and "Fortunate Son" was bloodied by inequity and rough justice, yet rich in promise and bound for glory, rendered by Fogerty with a reporter's concision and a dreamer's conviction.
Wrote a Song for Everyone is a testament to the continuing truth and power in Fogerty's greatest hits. For this album, he has recut a dozen classics, most from the Creedence era, in dynamic collaborations with an astute cast of younger stars and kindred voices including Bob Seger, My Morning Jacket, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert and Foo Fighters. The result is some of the best new music Fogerty has made since, well, Creedence. His singing is strong and engaged, even scalding when he goes up against Kid Rock in "Born on the Bayou," and the current state of Fogerty's guitar playing is summed up in his shoot-out with country picker Brad Paisley in "Hot Rod Heart," from 1977's Blue Moon Swamp. The twang flies clean and fast, as Fogerty answers Paisley's staccato flash and whip-curl flourishes with a bracing-treble fusion of James Burton, Carl Perkins and George Harrison.
Most duet projects are awkward, unfulfilling affairs, as if the tunes and pairings were picked and cut at gunpoint. "Proud Mary" -- too literally taken to New Orleans in an arrangement by Allen Toussaint -- is the only miscalculation here, and that's because Ike and Tina Turner own the song's mighty-water soul now. In fact, much of Wrote a Song for Everyone is just a real good time, especially the country action: the Paisley and Urban tracks; the obvious fun Fogerty and Zac Brown Band have with the jaunty warning of "Bad Moon Rising."
Fogerty, who arranged and produced the album, also has a sharp ear for emotional harmony. Seger's appearance in "Who'll Stop the Rain," from 1970's Cosmo's Factory, is a revealing match. The two road soldiers share the chorus in weathered empathy, to a Silver Bullet Band-style arrangement that makes you wonder if Seger used to cover the song at Michigan club gigs. Fogerty lets My Morning Jacket bend another Cosmo's song, "Long as I Can See the Light," to their drowsy-country ways -- it fits them, and him, like a ranch hand's glove.
Fogerty's smartest leap of faith is in the title song, from 1969's Green River: He gives half of it to country spitfire Lambert. Fogerty wrote the song in the thick of Creedence insanity (they put out three albums that year), as the cost to his home life mounted. Lambert counters his irony ("Wrote a song for everyone/And I couldn't even talk to you") with wounded but warming poise, as if she's trying to meet that frustration halfway. Tom Morello's sudden whooping-spirals of lead guitar actually sound like a success gone out of control. Then Fogerty and Lambert go back to the harder, quiet work of truce and comforting.
In a sense, Fogerty has been waiting a lifetime to have this much fun and challenge with his old songs. "All the miles I've been travelin'/Headin' back to the light," he sings in "Mystic Highway," one of two new songs here. Creedence's garage-rock purity and the pace at which they made their records left a lot of roots and branches in Fogerty's writing unexplored. The group's bitter end and decades of lawsuits didn't help.
There's another volume lurking in this songbook. I'd like to see Fogerty try "Walk on the Water" with the metal band Mastodon or the tramp-band stomp "Down on the Corner" with a young bluegrass crew like Old Crow Medicine Show. But Wrote a Song for Everyone does not replace anything Fogerty did the first time around. It affirms the living history in his greatest hits -- that of a great nation still being born. * * * * *
'Rolling Thunder' arrives with a bang on Blu-ray.
by Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly
etween Dirty Harry, Billy Jack, and Death Wish, the '70s were the golden age for vigilante films. My personal favorite of the genre has always been John Flynn's underrated Vietnam-vet revenge flick Rolling Thunder (1977, 1 hr., 40 mins., R). Co-penned by Taxi Driver's Paul Schrader, Rolling Thunder is a vise-tight B movie starring William Devane as Maj. Charles Rane, a decorated war hero who returns home after spending eight grueling years in a POW camp, only to find that his wife, Janet (Lisa Blake Richards), has taken up with another man. After a group of thugs murder her and mangle Charles' hand by sticking it in a buzzing kitchen-disposal, he reunites with his old combat pal Johnny (a young, very intense Tommy Lee Jones), constructs a metal-hook prosthesis, and goes on a bender of violent payback. He's like Robert De Niro's Travis Bickle with a sharpened steel claw instead of a mohawk.
Even though Rolling Thunder is a terrifically twisted thriller, it's been next to impossible to find on disc over the years. MGM recently released a bare-bones DVD, and now Shout! Factory has gone a step further with this fantastic new Blu-ray edition, which includes fresh interviews with Devane, Jones, and co-writers Schrader and Heywood Gould on the extras. All of them look back on the film fondly and still seem mystified about why it wasn't a bigger hit. Trust me, after seeing it, you'll wonder too. Do yourself a favor and check out this demented lost drive-in classic. A-
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