Dispirited by the rancorous demise of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty, the band's frontman, lead guitarist and primary songwriter, began a solo career working under The Blue Ridge Rangers moniker. This was a misnomer since Fogerty played all the instruments. The '73 album, steeped in traditional Country seemed more a side project than a career move. But the following year Fogerty scored a minor Top 40 hit with "Rockin' All Over The World."
"Hoodoo," a planned '76 album, was rejected by his label, Asylum, and even Fogerty admitted the album was sub-par. To compound matters, he hit an extended dry spell.
Fast forward. Fogerty made a welcome return with '85's "Centerfield," containing the title track and the huge hit, "Old Man Down The Road." Fantasy Records, CCR's label who also owned the publishing to all of Fogerty's CCR songs, sued saying "Old Man Down The Road" was similar to the hit "Run Through The Jungle" - a song Fogerty also wrote. Fogerty won the case but refused, for several years, to play any CCR songs in concert.
Fogerty's relations with his ex-bandmates were also strained. Tom Fogerty had grown tired of his kid brother's "overbearing" leadership and left CCR. Later, he sided with the label in John's royalty dispute. The two were not talking when Tom died in '90.
After working together on Country-Rock projects, Stu Cook (bass) and Doug Clifford (drums) hired musicians and launched Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Naturally, they played the CCR catalog - which infuriated Fogerty.
"Eye Of The Zombie" landed in '86 and marked the last time fans would hear from Fogerty for awhile.
Creedence Clearwater Revival was inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in '93. Even on this occasion, Fogerty refused to perform with his ex-bandmates (Cook and Clifford) choosing to enlist his own "backing band" that consisted of Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson (The Band).
"Blue Moon Swamp" landed in '97. Despite winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album, there was another lengthy break before '04's anti-war album "Déjà Vu (All Over Again)" which likened the U.S. invasion of Iraq to Vietnam. Remember, this is the guy who wrote "Fortunate Son."
With a change of ownership at Fantasy Records, Fogerty patched up his differences and he resigned with the label. The '04 compilation "The Long Road Home" was the first release.
Narrowing the gap between albums, Fogerty issued "Revival" just three years later. The set made its debut in the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 and, like its predecessor, received a Best Rock Album Grammy nomination. But Fogerty lost to the Foo Fighters.
Returning to where his solo career began, Fogerty released "The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again." For the '09 effort, Fogerty got help from the likes of Springsteen and the Eagles Don Henley.
Fogerty's relationship with his own legacy has always been unique. Going from not playing his CCR songs at all, to winning back the publishing rights, to recording an album of duets revolving around those songs.
The '13 album, "Wrote A Song For Everyone" contained contributions from Kid Rock ("Born On The Bayou"), Foo Fighters ("Fortunate Son"), Bob Seger ("Who'll Stop The Rain"), and My Morning Jacket ("Long As I Can See The Light"), along with performances by name Country singers.
"I encouraged each of these artists to come up with their own vision of my song, rather than just redoing what I'd recorded in the past," said Fogerty in an interview with American Songwriter. "I was hoping they'd have some different twist so it would be fresh, so I'd have to work, too. I wanted it to be something new."
The album was released on Fogerty's birthday and he celebrated with a show at the El Rey in L.A.
1973 The Blue Ridge Rangers
1975 John Fogerty
1986 Eye Of The Zombie
1997 Blue Moon Swamp
2004 Deja Vu (All Over Again)
2009 The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again
2013 Wrote A Song For Everyone
Also see Creedence Clearwater Revival
John Fogerty is among Rock's premier songwriters. His Creedence work, melding Rock and Country, with a shot of R&B, is astounding. Solo, it's been a harder road. Even though "Blue Moon Swamp" won a Grammy the album to get is "Centerfield."
"The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again" is an easy flowing, accessible album - a perfect example of Fogerty's expert craftsmanship. But as good as he handles Traditional Country, with feeling and confidence, he's far more compelling when leaves it.
Check the Rockabilly "Haunted House" and the cover of his own "Change In The Weather (originally on "Zombie"). There's an OK note-for-note cover of Rick Nelson's "Garden Party" that's offset by a spirited run, with Springsteen, at "When Will I Be Loved" (sorry, Linda Ronstadt stills owns the definitive Rock version). A surprise is the Delaney, Bonnie & Friends hippie standard, "Never Ending Song Of Love." For a guy not associated with "flower power," Fogerty gives the song a great run.
The simple realization that Fogerty has written a ton of great songs may be enough for "Wrote A Song For Everyone." The original versions are still definitive despite the efforts of Kid Rock and Bob Seger, who manages to get the "Against The Wind" piano riff into "Who'll Stop The Rain."
Of course, "Proud Mary" gets the treatment, which is expected, since Ike & Tina Turner blew up the song four decades ago. But the less known songs in Fogerty's catalog, usually performed with Country artists, have some unexpected charm - "Hot Rod Heart" (with Brad Paisley) and "Almost Saturday Night" (with Keith Urban).
My Morning Jacket and Dawes impress with their covers of "As Long As I Can See The Light" and "Someday Never Comes," respectively, but it's the non-cover "Mystic Highway" that scores.