Revival is the absolute perfect title for this record in more ways than one. Not only has Fogerty brought back the style that made him a star with Creedence Clearwater Revival, on the very same record label where he first found success, but he has delivered an album of blistering commentary much like the classic CCR albums of the late 60s.
Sometimes, time gives us a clarity that did not exist before. Maybe after all these years, after engaging in bitter court battles and attempts to distance himself from his legacy, Fogerty was finally ready to step back up to bat. This theory makes the most sense to me, and should after just one run through Revival. The man is just this side of 62, yet sounds younger on this album than he has in years. Hell, his vocal performances display more versatility than some of his CCR work.
Things start off quite gently, with the rolling, wistful “Don’t You Wish It Was True.” One doesn’t realize it at first, but this is Fogerty’s way of preparing the listener for the widespread, blatant criticisms of the Bush administration which follow. “Gunslinger” immediately takes things up a notch, planting the notion that some change is needed to “tame this town.”
After a short detour with the tongue in cheek “Creedence Songs,” and the gorgeous ballads “Broken Down Cowboy,” and “River Is Waiting,” we get to what’s been on Fogerty’s mind. Pres. Bush, V.P Dick Cheney and others get called out by name during “Long Dark Night” for their various “discrepancies” in a manner much more effective than Neil Young’s approach on Living With War.
Whether or not a song like “Long Dark Night,” or “I Can’t Take It No More,” passes the test of time removed from context obviously remains to be seen. They will most likely lose some of their impact. But artists like Fogerty and Young represent a viewpoint that needs to be stated, even if I don’t always agree with them.
By album’s end, there is little doubt Fogerty can still rock. The entire second half of the album is chock full of vintage swamp-rock from the man who made it into a genre with CCR. There is little filler to be found; these songs are of the wham-bam-thank you ma’am type. Fogerty was judicious with the length of the cuts on Revival, and because of the brevity, the message is that much clearer and more effective.
I think Revival has been the forgotten album of this stretch of the year. Springsteen, Young, The Eagles, these are the names that tend to overshadow everything else. That is a tremendous shame, because with Revival John Fogerty has not only reclaimed what made us love him in the first place, but has crafted one of the albums of the year.