An infamous lawsuit in the 1980s found former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogerty in the bizarre position of being accused of plagiarizing himself, with the owner of the publishing rights to Fogerty’s Creedence songs claiming that one of the singer-songwriter’s solo compositions was a rip-off of an old Creedence track.
It was, of course, an absurd and vindictive case that Fogerty rightfully won, but it does illustrate a larger point about Fogerty’s music: He’s been writing the same songs over and over for the last 40 years, and his latest solo album, the appropriately titled Revival, is a perfect illustration of both his strengths and his shortcomings. The 12 songs mine the classic Southern-fried rock sound that Fogerty pioneered with Creedence, and they are perfectly listenable and exceedingly well-played by Fogerty’s band of veteran studio musicians. But the spark and life of his early work seems to have been sapped away, replaced by nostalgia (the ’60s-mythologizing “Summer of Love”), odd self-aggrandizement (“Creedence Song”) and rote, simplistic social commentary (the celebutante-scolding “It Ain’t Right”; the Bush-bashing “Long Dark Night”).
Musically, the riffs are simple and direct but relatively uninspired; only the country-tinged “Broken Down Cowboy” and the brief rockabilly blast of “I Can’t Take It No More” (another anti-Bush rant) leave much of an impression. A Fogerty album is enough of a rarity, though, that even these small, familiar pleasures are worth celebrating.