24: Blue Moon Swamp (John Fogerty)

Album: Blue Moon Swamp
Artist: John Fogerty
Year: 1997

1. Southern Streamline
2. Hot Rod Heart
3. Blueboy
4. A Hundred and Ten in the Shade
5. Rattlesnake Highway
6. Bring It Down to Jelly Roll
7. Walking in a Hurricane
8. Swamp River Days
9. Rambunctious Boy
10. Joy of My Life
11. Blue Moon Nights
12. Bad Bad Boy

The Grammy Award winner for Best Rock Album starts out with a country song, naturally. It’s only an average song and it tanked on the country charts, but it leads into the rest of the album pretty well. Hot Rod Heart is a simple rocker; decent, but nothing all that memorable. At this point the album proves why it deserved the Grammy.

Blueboy is classic Fogerty, a little bit country with some rockin’ electric guitar solos. Had it been released in rock’s hey-day in the 60’s, I have little doubt it would have been a top ten hit. A Hundred and Ten in the Shade is a low-tempo song that fits the mood of the title perfectly, and Fogerty is complimented with the perfect backing vocals of The Fairfield Four, a gospel group that has been around since 1921.

After that we have the hardest rocker of the album, though the lyrics on Rattlesnake Highway are a bit over the top. Walking in a Hurricane is the best hard-rocker here. Bring It Down to Jelly Roll is another good country/rock mix. The last half of the album has a bit less bite. Swamp River Days and Blue Moon Nights, while pleasant, are pretty generic songs reminiscent of the slow parts of the CCR albums.  Rambunctious Boy is the worst song, but not so bad as to ruin the mood. Joy of My Life is a ballad John wrote for his wife, and it’s fine.

Bad Bad Boy is an interesting way to wrap things up. It’s a decent rocker and it has a nice fade out at the end, but it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the album. It’s a bit disheartening that after working on this album for a decade, it doesn’t have a more consistent theme, but the production values are fantastic and it’s easy to tell he poured his heart and soul into each song. It’s a good thing, too, since shortly after this album’s release, Fogerty’s voice started to degrade. He’s had a few decent songs since, but the last ten years have not been kind to him vocationally. He can still sing his country songs, but anything that requires the howling voice like Up Around the Bend or Have You Ever Seen the Rain? can make your skin crawl.

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