BMG (CD, LP)
By MIke Greenblatt
Creedence Clearwater Revival put out Cosmo’s Factory in 1970. Cosmo (drummer Doug Clifford) has long been gone from John Fogerty’s life, so now it’s Fogerty’s Factory, a family project helmed by John wherein he takes his songs (and a few well-chosen covers) and performs them with sons Shane and Tyler plus daughter Kelsy in an intimate folk-roots way (most songs without drums). Its album cover is an update on that iconic 1970 cover, but, oddly enough, there are no songs from that album here. Instead, it’s more of a “greatest hits” package with the one lone clunker, “Proud Mary” (long past its expiration date), amidst gems like “Centerfield,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son” and six others.
The new format — because the material is so strong — lends itself to singalongs a la Pete Seeger and, indeed, these beloved melodies, because they’re stamped on our brains like a lifelong tattoo, ring true and sweet. John brings a new kind of soul to singing “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers (although his preachy spoken-word intro could’ve been left on the cutting room floor). His voice, at 75, is spry and elastic in a Levon Helm kind of way, feeling oh-so-right, like welcoming back an old friend. It’s the magic of these melodies — especially Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans”— that are evocative, sentimental and ripe for rediscovery.
They’re all American folk songs now. And the inherent joy of creating this music with one’s family while in quarantine together is infectious.
— Mike Greenblatt