The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2009, Volume 16, #10
Written by John Metzger
Mon October 5, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT
It’s rare for anyone to be given a second chance, especially in the brutally unforgiving world of the music business. When he assembled his solo debut The Blue Ridge Rangers, John Fogerty was at the tail-end of a creative burst that had propelled Creedence Clearwater Revival from a local-area bar band to one of rock ’n‘ roll’s biggest-selling acts. In the wake of the outfit’s collapse, under the weight of an intense sibling rivalry and a series of creative differences, Fogerty took matters into his own hands. Egotistically, he felt he could do it all on his own. In hindsight, however, even he has admitted that the album reached beyond his abilities.
By contrast, Fogerty’s latest effort is the culmination of his long journey back from the brink of being nothing more than a nostalgia act. Over the past few years, he has been trolling through his back catalogue in an attempt to reconnect with and rebuild his past. Not only have the key albums in Creedence Clearwater Revival’s canon been reissued with bonus material, but Fogerty also put his solo career back on track with Deja Vu All Over Again and Revival, a pair of terrific, if sometimes retro-minded endeavors. Now that he has reached another creative peak, Fogerty is revisiting the concepts that spawned The Blue Ridge Rangers. Apparently, he viewed the project as an opportunity to correct his previous mistakes.
Instead of recording The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again in solitude, Fogerty not only assembled a band of all-star session players, but he also enlisted the help of several key guest stars — namely Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles’ Timothy B. Schmit and Don Henley — to help him complete the endeavor. With the exception of a modest reconfiguration of his own tune Change in the Weather, Fogerty forsakes the swampy ambience that has cloaked much of his work. In the process, he reveals the oft-neglected pastiche of classic country, bluegrass, and early rock ’n‘ roll that has lurked behind his soul-infused bayou boogies.
Throughout The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again, Fogerty rambles through the truck stops and country fairs that line the highways and back roads of rural America. His song selections are impeccable, too. In the spirit of The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Fogerty casts a wider net than he did on The Blue Ridge Rangers. As a result, he makes enough room for songs penned by the peers he loves to sit next to tunes that are associated with the influences he adores. He comfortably swerves from the bluegrass textures that adorn John Prine’s Paradise to the hard country of Ray Price’s I’ll Be There, and he crosses effortlessly from the classic rockabilly tune Haunted House to the bracing ebullience of Phil Everly’s When Will I Be Loved.
It would have been easy for Fogerty to err on the side of giving The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again either too much or too little thought. Although he clearly is surfing upon the cresting wave of his recent string of successes, he instead opted to jettison his artistic pretensions and approach the album from the perspective of a music fan. His enthusiasm is wholly infectious, too. The intimacy he creates throughout the endeavor conjures the warm, magical glow of AM radio’s bygone era, perhaps for the last time. ½
Of Further Interest...
The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2009 The Music Box