John Fogerty, Revival (Fantasy)

On Centerfield, John Fogerty wrote about baseball’s place in Americana; on Revival, he writes about his own. The album is getting a lot of love for a return to Fantasy Records post-lawsuit that is also a comfortable-sounding return to the CCR sound. It’s that, but celebrating the good ol’ days when he was an active part of the culture-making machinery is a little unseemly. He writes about the power of his own music, singing in one chorus that “you can’t go wrong / if you play a little bit of that Creedence song,” and he remembers his heyday in “Summer of Love,” complete with a Cream-like riff. The former at least benefits from a bit of sly humor because he was sued for playing a little bit of a Creedence riff; but the latter is so cliché-laden that if it says anything about 1967, it’s that its survivors lost the ability to speak in any language other than lyric fragments.

The Creedence sound is as comfortable as an old sweatshirt, and he delivers it here, but attached to lyrics that pose as the thoughts of the working class Joe that Fogerty isn’t and can’t fake. The most authentic and alive moment on the album is “I Can’t Take it Anymore,” when he drops his trademark sound, his aw shucks stance and rails against the war in a two-chord song that is punk rock in its simplicity. He sings his frustration for a minute-and-a-half, reaching for the top of his vocal range for maximum stridency, then he brings the song to a close without any consideration for how long CCR would stretch it. But as the album title suggests, this album isn’t really about today. It’s about yesterday, and making the old fans happy.