Original version published 09/14/15 on Southern Senses
Having successfully revived (pardon the pun…or don’t) his career numerous times throughout the decades, former Creedence frontman John Fogerty could rightly be known in the industry as “The King of Comebacks.” But perhaps no single career revival (punnier) has served as more of a reminder of Fogerty’s greatness, nor has stood the test of time as well, as Blue Moon Swamp. The album is a country and rock blend at its finest—a mesh which Fogerty helped bring to the forefront of popular music almost three decades earlier. After it’s original release in 1997, the record was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, and here’s why:
01. “Southern Streamline”
If you want to appeal to a Southern audience, sing about a train. The lighthearted romance theme coupled with the “peppy” side of Fogerty’s signature CCR sensibilities makes the track one of the best upbeat songs Fogerty has penned this side of “Bad Moon Rising.”
A signature opening lick (something which set most of Fogerty’s CCR tunes apart from the proverbial “pack”) is gloriously present in “Blueboy.” Lyrically, the song paints a scene of by-gone, simpler times when country folk gathered in town on Saturday to watch a local boy play his guitar.
04. “A Hundred and Ten in the Shade”
One of the best tracks on the record, “A Hundred and Ten in the Shade” is a blues-based tune permeated by Fogerty’s patented swamp rock sound. The addition of The Fairfield Four on vocals gives a fitting spiritual quality to the “fingers-to-the-bone” work depicted in Fogerty’s lyrical lamentations.
06. “Bring It Down to Jelly Roll”
As a songwriter, I don’t think I would ever use the word tandem “jelly roll” in my tunes. Offhand, it seems “Jelly Roll” is the name of a club or joint, and Fogerty is telling the listener to “bring it down to Jelly Roll” for a one of a kind good time. Still, I’ve never heard of Fogerty addressing the meaning directly, but according to the internet consensus (Isn’t that all that matters in these days?), the tune is a tribute to New Orleans jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton. Regardless, “Jelly Roll” the song is a rockin’, Southern-dripping track reminiscent of the Stones’ “Honkey Tonk Women” and has remained one of my favorite BMS tracks from first listen.
09. “Rambunctious Boy”
Beginning with bluegrass-themed, a cappella harmony featuring The Lonesome River Band, followed by a short burst of mandolin, “Rambunctious Boy” is prime example of Fogerty excellence. The track ultimately feels like something The Eagles would have been proud to have produced.
10. “Joy of My Life”
“Joy of My Life” is Fogerty’s favorite track from the record, and incidentally, it’s mine too. A beautiful love song Fogerty penned for his wife Julie, “Joy of My Life” is by far the sweetest, most romantic thing Fogerty has ever produced and is only enhanced by Fogerty’s wonderfully appealing dobro licks. I contend that had this song been released by any major, mainstream, male country music artist at any point in the last 20 years, it would have been a mammoth hit.
11. “Blue Moon Nights”
Rounding out the Blue Moon Swamp Top Tracks is the almost-title track “Blue Moon Nights.” “BMN” is a happy little ditty that, though much more stripped than most of its brethren, ultimately serves as one of the best reminders of Fogerty’s rockabilly roots and why, after nearly 50 years, Fogerty has remained an American music staple.
Album Rating: 9/10 (Original: 4/5)
Sub Categories: Rock, Country, Country/Rock, Americana, Roots Rock, Swamp Rock, Blues Rock