Within the realm of popular music, there seems to be a hip new trend.
Ironically, it moves away from futuristic beats and sounds, instead favoring the folk elements that have had such an enormous influence on modern music as a whole.
Punk and New Wave acts such as the Pretenders and Elvis Costello have experimented with elements of traditional country in recent albums, while new bands such as the Dead Weather have explored the blues. Evengood old-fashioned soul has been making a comeback in some recent work.
John Fogerty’s ‘The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again” also employs folk elements, but it would be inaccurate to say that this is a recent trend in Fogerty’s work.
Blues, country and old rock and roll have been a part of his sound since his days as the lead man of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
This album is unique, despite the fact that it is a sequel by name and by sound to his 1973 record, ‘The Blue Ridge Rangers.” Both albums focus on a traditional country sound, complete with pedal steel guitar, fiddle and mandolin.
‘The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again” is by no means a clone, though. To begin with, on the original album Fogerty played every instrument by himself. While this was an impressive feat that showcased his tremendous talents, he vowed that he would never do it again.
As a result, the Blue Ridge Rangers are finally a real band, made up of some very talented musicians. The selection of songs differs greatly too.
While the original ‘Blue Ridge Rangers” album focused mainly on traditional country and bluegrass as well as spirituals, the sequel has a slightly more modern sound with covers of classics by Buck Owens, Ray Price and Ricky Nelson.
The album has a strong start with John Prine’s ‘Paradise,” a song about a childhood sanctuary that is hauled away by a coal company. A weird mix of wry commentary and honest sentimentality, Fogerty and the Blue Ridge Rangers do it justice with a dramatic performance. The second track, ‘Never Ending Song of Love,” is one of the more disappointing tunes on the album.
It doesn’t measure up to the dynamic opening of the album, and the peculiar backing vocals and hokey lyrics don’t help it. Thankfully, the album picks up again with Ricky Nelson’s ‘Garden Party,” a selection that reinforces the contemplative nature of this album and features guest vocals by the Eagles’ Don Henley.
The miniscule amount of filler on the album is more than made up for with highlights that include a rocking duet with Bruce Springsteen on the classic song ‘When Will I Be Loved,” Ray Price’s ‘I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)” and a boisterous rendition of Buck Owens’s ‘I Don’t Care (Just as Long as You Love Me).”
In addition to these fine performances, there is ‘Change in the Weather,” an original track by Fogerty. While the lyrics revolve around the present day issue of global warming, in sound it is a throwback to the original CCR material.
Anybody looking for a ‘pure” rock recording might be disappointed by this album as it doesn’t have the drive or seething anger of his last album ‘Revival.”
While there are points of the album that ‘rock,” the focus is definitely on a vintage country sound.
More than a pleasant listening experience, ‘The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again” is an introspective album that gives Fogerty fans a chance to listen to the music that matters to him. Despite John Fogerty’s strong vocals, the band’s crisp performance and guest appearances by some very notable musicians, the music always sounds sincere and relaxed, as if Fogerty were playing directly to a small group of his closest friends and family and you.
Berris is a member of
the class of 2013.