Album Review

John Fogerty, 'The Blue Ridge Ranger Rides Again'

September 7, 2009

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John Fogerty The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again
Fortunate Son/ Verve Forecast
ESSENTIAL “Moody River’’

The title of this awkwardly named album points back to “The Blue Ridge Rangers,’’ the first solo record John Fogerty released, 36 years ago, after leaving Creedence Clearwater Revival. That record was a heartfelt collection of country covers when country wasn’t cool, and Fogerty chose to give it a quasi-anonymous veneer: the LP jacket intimated that the Blue Ridge Rangers were responsible for the music, while in fact Fogerty played every instrument. By contrast, “The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again’’ features a roster of hotshot players and bigshot guests (Bruce Springsteen helps out on the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved,’’ and Timothy B. Schmit and Don Henley make Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party’’ sound like an Eagles song). For all that firepower, the follow-up can’t touch the rough, quixotic charms of its predecessor. But it has moments - Fogerty’s honky-tonk reprise of a couple of Ray Price chestnuts, countrified versions of “Never Ending Song of Love’’ and “Haunted House,’’ the hard country harmonies on the Kendalls’ “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away,’’ and the gorgeous minor-key melancholy of “Moody River’’ - that lend it a certain charm of its own. (Out now) STUART MUNRO