By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch

September 30, 2004

John Fogerty
"Deja Vu All Over Again
Geffen Records

The title of John Fogerty's first CD of new material in seven years looms as a fastball, belt high, down the middle of the plate for headline writers and critics, so the artist had better score some runs of his own.

Unfortunately, it is deja vu all over again -- which was a funny line when Yogi Berra said it, but deja vu actually means a feeling of familiarity with something that has not happened before.

Anyway, Fogerty's title song is a comparison of the Vietnam and Iraq quagmires, and as such it works -- including taking its musical cues from "Who'll Stop the Rain," one of his Vietnam-era antiwar hits. But longtime fans hoping for the spit and anger of the anthemic "Fortunate Son" will have to settle for a weary reading of similarities, such as body counts on TV. And that's it for anti-Iraq war or anti-Bush rhetoric.

Social commentary includes "Nobody's Here Anymore," a hand-wringer about kids connected to video games and music players, and SUV drivers connected to cell phones. But the force behind Creedence Clearwater Revival, and one of the still-great voices of rock, just sounds like an Old Fogiety. Adding to the deja vu is lead guitar by Mark Knopfler, who sounds like he's recycling his "Sultans of Swing" riffs from Dire Straits.

Elsewhere, Fogerty dips again into his swamp-rock oeuvre ("Wicked Old Witch") without going anywhere new, and closes the CD with the inexplicably out-of-place, Hendrix-meets-Cream psychedelia of "In the Garden."

Along the way, the happily married Fogerty sings to and about his wife, Julie, on "Sugar-Sugar (In My Life)," "Honey Do" and "I Will Walk With You," pleasant enough songs that all sound vaguely familiar and somewhat trite.

There's really no such thing as a bad Fogerty CD ("Eye of the Zombie" notwithstanding), but this is a real step back from 1997's "Blue Moon Swamp."