The Blue Ridge Rangers
Ride Again

John Fogerty

With so many rockers going the country bluegrass route these days, it was a given someone like John Fogerty would jump on the horse buggy for a spin into the wild frontier. The former Creedence leader is no stranger to the form — The Blue Ridge Rangers, the title of his debut solo album from 1973, was filled with country music. The title was a bit of misnomer too because “The Blue Ridge Rangers” wasn’t a group — it was Fogerty playing all the instruments himself. Fast-forward 36 years later, and it's The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again, only this time the singer-songwriter gets a little help from his friends.

As with the first Blue Rangers album, the songs are covers except for Fogerty’s own “Change in the Weather” (which originally appeared 1986’s vastly underrated Eye Of The Zombie album). To hear Fogerty, a stellar songwriter himself, interpret the works of others is where the heart and soul of the record lies. Getting support from veteran pickers like Greg Leisz, Buddy Miller and Herb Pedersen is what gives John Prine’s “Paradise” and Buck Owens’ “I Don't Care (Just As Long As You Love Me)” a country twang twinkling alongside that famous, still-beating voice of all those beloved CCR classics.

Although the album boosts a predominantly country flavor, not all the songs fit the mold so easily. How about a tender take on John Denver’s “Back Home Again”? Better yet, sink your teeth into Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party” with the Eagles’ Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit piping in on the vocals. Bruce Springsteen, another close friend, joins in on a spirited version of the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved.” Indeed, with friends like these, Fogerty’s place in the hierarchy of the music biz food chain is for keeps. The fact that he recognizes a vast canon of great music, aside from his own, on The Blue Ridge Rangers Ride Again demonstrates he’s every bit as much of a great singer as he is a great songwriter.

~ Shawn Perry

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