John Fogerty, ‘Wrote a Song for Everyone’ – Album Review
John Fogerty’s ‘Wrote a Song for Everyone’ falls somewhere between a tribute record and a duets album. The former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman appears on all 14 songs, most of which come from his legendary catalog that spans 40-plus years. And on all but a couple of cuts, he performs with some big-name genre-crossing artists, including Foo Fighters, Kid Rock and Miranda Lambert.
As is the case with so many tribute records and duet albums, ‘Wrote a Song for Everyone’ pretty much relies on the strength of the songs and collaborators. The best of them – the Foos, Lambert, Keith Urban -- don’t necessarily bring new perspective to these classics, but they offer more than karaoke-style read-throughs. The others simply fill in the blanks.
It starts with a ferocious cover of ‘Fortunate Son’ featuring Foo Fighters that comes off like an extension of Dave Grohl’s recent Sound City documentary and soundtrack project. Fogerty’s 1969 protest song still sounds relevant in the shadow of Occupy and the 99 percent, with Grohl burning some vein-popping rage. Fogerty, voice a bit worn after all these years, seethes alongside him.
From there, it’s back and forth: Urban mines the twangy heart of ‘Almost Saturday Night’; Lambert, along with Tom Morello, tackles the title track with gusto; the Zac Brown Band sleepwalk through ‘Bad Moon Rising’; Kid Rock dials down his Southern-rock mannerisms for a still-boring ‘Born on the Bayou’; Dawes soak in Laurel Canyon nostalgia on ‘Someday Never Comes’; Bob Seger sounds shot and tired on ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’; and Jennifer Hudson with the Rebirth Brass Band channel Ike and Tina Turner for a horned-up ‘Proud Mary.’
Two new forgettable solo cuts round out ‘Wrote a Song for Everyone,’ along with a lumbering version of ‘Lodi’ featuring Fogerty and his two teenage sons. Those recordings reflect a main problem with tribute/duet projects like this: the inherent narcissism that comes with celebrating one’s own work. Every single one of these covers is available in far superior versions by Creedence or, in some cases, Fogerty solo. ‘Wrote a Song for Everyone’ isn’t about rediscovery or reinterpretation. It’s about congratulating Fogerty on four decades of great music. But he earned that applause years ago. He doesn’t need Kid Rock’s validation.