The Long Road Home is an especially apt title
for this collection, which finally after over thirty years of legal
wrangling has reunited John Fogerty with his catalogue of early hits with
his classic band Creedence Clearwater Revival (as well as his first solo
album.) From 1967 to 1970, CCR sold more records than even the
Beatles, however due to a bad business sense the rights to all of their
songs were retained by the label (which was kind of standard back then.).
Singer and songwriter Fogerty has ever since tried to regain
the rights to the songs he wrote with little success. The war became
vicious. Fogerty did not record for over a decade after the split and
has never recorded regularly since. Fogerty savaged Fantasy Records
owner Saul Zaentz with his 1985 songs "Zanz Kant Danz" and "Mr. Greed."
Zaentz returned fire by suing Fogerty for self-plagiarism for his hit single
"The Old Man Down the Road," which the exec suggested was a carbon copy of
the CCR track "Run Through the Jungle." For decades Fogerty refused to
perform his own CCR songs live because he didn't want to line the Fantasy
pockets. He only finally started performing them again in the 1990s.
When revered jazz label Concord Records decided to
look into purchasing Fantasy, one of their priorities was to mend the rift
between the label and the artist that pretty much sustained it.
Fogerty was so impressed by Concord's determination to be fair with their
catalog that he not only agreed to cooperate with them, he signed with the
label when the deal went down.
Creedence's legacy as one of the great American bands
is well spelled out on this disk. If you've been away from their
catalog for a while, you'll be shocked by their musical diversity.
This is a band that can easily pull off angry protest songs like "Fortunate
Son" and "Who'll Stop the Rain?," swampy blues rock like "Proud Mary" and
"Bad Moon Rising" and good-time party tunes like "Down on the Corner" and
"Looking Out My Back Door." There are thirteen CCR songs here and
almost all of them are essential.
Fogerty's solo career is not treated with quite as
much respect. Granted, his solo releases have been few and far between
over the years, however as a man who has only hit the pop charts seven times
as a solo artist (plus three more recorded under the moniker The Blue Ridge
Rangers), it's kind of surprising that only two of those singles are
included here in their original form. Two early hits, "Almost Saturday
Night" and "Rockin' All Over the World" are here in live versions from the
1998 Premonition album, not the single recordings, and the rest of
them are completely missing.
While I can see Fogerty's unwillingness
to overdo it with his 1985 album Centerfield, let's face it, it's
really the only solo work most of us have heard and has his three biggest
non-Creedence hits. There is no question that two singles included
from the album deserve to be here; the swampy "Old Man Down the Road" and
the joyous "Centerfield," a celebration of the American pastime which has
become something of a standard. However the wonderful single "Rock &
Roll Girls" with its unique yodeling chorus is conspicuously missing
(particularly considering the fact that it was a much bigger hit than
"Centerfield" at the time.) Also, the voodoo-vibed title track from
the Eye of the Zombie follow-up album (in fact that album is
completely ignored) may not be perfect Fogerty, but should probably be here.
The disc also includes four recent live performances
of Creedence tracks -- all of which show a nice muscularity to Fogerty's
band and current performing style. Particularly effective is a raging
new version of "Fortune Son," which has taken on a whole renewed life as he
has used it in recent years as a rebuke of the regime of George W. Bush.