The Long Road Home - In Concert
REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/14/2006
From the mastermind of four of rock's great albums (read: four of the first five Creedence Clearwater Revival releases), this is a fair enough assessment. CCR always was an anomaly in the '60s rock scene, a throwback to a time and a place that never really existed as a SoCal boy played
That was 1969, and this set comes 37 years later. As is expected, Fogerty's voice is rougher and older, and his CCR bandmates are gone, but other than that little has changed. Taken from a 2005 concert, this set winds through a bevy of CCR tunes and a handful of Fogerty solo releases. But unlike the CCR releases, there is no experimentation or long-winded tunes, replaced instead by good ol' boy country-rock that celebrates small towns, motorcycles, love, alcohol and the occasional musings on life.
For fans of the band and of the '60s, this set works not only because the CCR hits are performed well and faithful to the originals, but because the new and solo material is interspersed so well and pulled off without a hitch. The first CD careens from acoustic ballads ("Who'll Stop The Rain") to hillbilly music ("Blue Moon Nights") to straight-up country ("Hot Rod Heart") to a sort of Neil Young/Ramones hybrid ("She's Got Baggage," the best non-CCR tune here).
While one could criticize Fogerty for relying on the CCR hits, the fact is a solid half of that band's catalog hit the charts at some point, so there are no usual suspects. But a nice helping of non-hits are included as well, like "Lodi" and "Bootleg," which balance the more often-heard "Born On The Bayou" (which sounds good in this basic, non-studio-enhanced setting) and "Run Through The Jungle" (ditto and an improvement on the studio version).
Fogerty often switches between his electric and acoustic and both pack similar power, more than likely because the songwriter knows his way around a melody and has such an earnest conviction it's hard not to like him. His solo career may have positioned him as a John Mellencamp clone, but here he sounds more like a Skynyrd/Springsteen hybrid, with the audacity and jingoism of a Toby Keith but the ability to write good songs.
The second disc is pretty much all CCR non-hits and Fogerty's two biggest solo pieces, "Centerfield" and "The Old Man Down The Road." The band tears through numbers like "Keep On Chooglin'," "Sweet Hitch-Hiker" and an excellent "Fortunate Son." I will admit this take on "Proud Mary" makes me finally like the song, and it's a good way to close the show.
However, while this set will give you a new respect for CCR's catalog, it also makes one long for the originals. As said above, the adventurous spirit is gone and these instead sound like live updates on classic songs, which isn't always a necessary item. But the band is having a good time, the discs are lively and as far as basic rock this kind of music is hard to find, even if it never really feels necessary. That said, fans of CCR and of country music will enjoy this unpretentious and solid offering from a classic American songwriter.