Terrell’s Tuneup: FOGERTY & LEVON
A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 20, 2009
Here are a couple of recent albums from classic rockers from influential bands — Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Band — whose music was always an extension of American roots music — blues, R & B, rockabilly, gospel, and straight-up hillbilly sounds.
Even though their latest works won’t be and shouldn’t be considered breakthroughs or high-water marks of either artists’ career, John Fogerty’s The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again and Levon Helm’s Electric Dirt are records that show each artist remaining true to his muse. And both albums are full of good-time, honky-tonkin’ fun.
First, the Fogerty album: When Creedence — for my money, the best singles-oriented band of the late ’60s — crumbled in the early-’70s, Fogerty regrouped by degrouping. That is, he went into the studio basically as a one-man band, The Blue Ridge Rangers, playing all the instruments himself on a salute to his favorite country and bluegrass music.
As for the Helm album, when I first heard he was doing a record called Electric Dirt, I was afraid it might have versions of the songs from his previous record, Dirt Farmer, done with psychedelic wah-wah guitars and over-miked drums. Fortunately, my fear was for naught.
This album, like Fogerty’s, consists mostly of down-home cover tunes — in a sound remaining true to The Band.
But my favorite on this album is the Pops Staples gospel song “Move Along Train.” Helms’ daughter Amy plays the role of Pops’ daughter Mavis.