A pair of returns will mark a creative outburst from John Fogerty in 2009.
The former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman is finishing work on “John Fogerty: The Return of the Blue Ridge Rangers,” a sequel of sorts to his 1973 solo set of vintage country and roots covers, “Blue Ridge Rangers.” He’ll also be putting out “John Fogerty — Comin’ Down the Road,” a DVD chronicling his first concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which took place earlier this year, as well as a documentary about his life and career. Release dates for both are still pending.
Fogerty tells Billboard that he’s long hoped to return to the Blue Ridge Rangers concept, but not as the one-man band he was on the original. “I’ve known for years that if I ever did a Blue Ridge Rangers album again I sure didn’t want to play all the instruments,” Fogerty explains. “I had long felt that was probably something that was wrong with the first album.”
Fogerty recorded “The Return of the Blue Ridge Rangers” during a 10-day session at Village Recorders in Santa Monica, Calif., with T-Bone Burnett and Lenny Waronker co-producing. Among the players were Buddy Miller, Greg Leisz, Dennis Crouch, Jay Bellerose and Kenny Aronoff. Fifteen songs were recorded from a list of about 40 that Fogerty, Burnett and Waronker assembled, and while Fogerty is keeping mum on specific titles, he acknowledges that there would be at least one Merle Haggard tune on the album.
“My pre-requisite was that I didn’t want to get into the realm of trying to be really hip and obscure,” Fogerty says. “I’ve seen people get really out there, and it’s stuff nobody’s heard of or maybe it’s stuff nobody wants to hear of. For me it just had to be a good song, a great song, ’cause great songs will carry you a long way.”
Fogerty does some more looking back on the “Comin’ Down the Road” DVD. In addition to the concert — a 12-camera HD affair which traverses his CCR and solo career and features guest appearances by his teenage songs Shane and Tyler — the documentary features extensive interviews with Fogerty as well as visits to El Cerrito, Calif., where he grew up, CCR’s Cosmos Factory rehearsal hall/studio and Fantasy Records’ headquarters in Berkeley.
Fogerty freely discusses painful past issues such as his legal drama after CCR’s break-up and subsequent writer’s block, but he says those topics are “kind of academic to me now. It’s not a real red-hot emotional button anymore. I’m not still trying to work it out, you know?”
The two solo projects come on the heels of Fantasy’s reissues of the CCR catalog, six titles with extensive bonus tracks from the vaults. Fogerty calls them “pretty cool” but acknowledges mixed feelings about the extra material.
“The bonus tracks were some stuff I really never wanted to have released,” he explains. “But their job as a record company is to try and renew interest in things that have been around awhile, and that’s tricky. As long as everybody understands it’s more historic than it is artistic, that’s OK. That’s the way I have to think about it.”