Sony's Legacy label has been reissuing much of heartland rock band Kansas' old album catalog during the past couple of years.
Now, the label has released Sail On: The 30th Anniversary Collection 1974-2004, a box set celebrating the band's longevity that includes two CDs of music and a DVD.
The CDs focus mainly on its 1974-1983 hit-producing years, including the tracks "Carry on Wayward Son," "Point of Know Return," "Portrait (He Knew)," "Dust in the Wind," "Hold on," "Got to Rock on," "Play the Game Tonight" and "Fight Fire With Fire."
It also includes a handful of tracks selected from five Kansas studio albums released since its last chart hit 20 years ago. The DVD features live concert footage from its 1974-75 appearances on TV's "Rock Concert," some footage from its 2002 tour, interview segments and various music videos.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
It's been seven years since John Fogerty's last solo statement, the Grammy-winning Blue Moon Swamp. And that disc appeared a decade after his two hit-laden '80s comeback discs, Centerfield and Eye of the Zombie. Four albums in 20 years isn't exactly a prodigious output, but every Fogerty album is worth the wait, and Déjà Vu is no exception.
This time out, Fogerty has gone back to his songwriting and recording roots, focusing on simple melodies and arrangements to achieve a timeless, playing-around-the-campfire folk rock feel.
Opening with the title track, "Déjà Vu (All Over Again)," Fogerty sets the ground rules upfront for this album. While his '80s releases melded his Creedence Clearwater Revival songwriting sensibilities with modern instrumentation and arrangements, this album is about rekindling the feelings of the "old days."
"Déjà Vu (All Over Again)," a bitter song about the heartache and death war brings "over and over again," rests on a solemn guitar strum and melancholy lyrical plaint. It can be no accident the bassline strongly calls to mind his Creedence hit, "Who'll Stop the Rain."
The next track, "Sugar-Sugar (In My Life)," is a cheerier bit of folksy strumming about the need for love in life. "She's Got Baggage" strives to be modern, with a meld of Fogerty's upbeat "Centerfield"-ish rock guitar and a Ramones intensity (he even nods at the Ramones' trademark "Hey, ho, let's go" in a lyrical break where the band yells "Hey yo, say it ain't so").
With "Radar," he leads the band through a roller rink organ-accented foot-tapper about a woman who manages to always know what he's about. That tongue-in-cheek complaint about women continues in the next track, the hysterical "Honey Do," a back porch picker that every married man will sympathize with.
"Honey do this, honey do that
I work all day in The Honey Do Patch
woman, oh woman what's a-wrong with you
I can't get away from The Honey Do."
Fogerty teams up in an inspired pairing with former Dire Straits leader Mark Knopfler, who adds his signature lead guitar to "Nobody's Here Anymore." It's one of the highlights of the album, bringing to mind the rich guitar warmth of "Sultans of Swing," as Fogerty spins a lyric about the isolation of spending too much time "being connected" via the Internet.
"I Will Walk With You" is a quiet, simply picked love song in the classic tradition. Backed by just bass and guitar, with dobro and mandolin accents, he sings "I will walk with you/every step of the way … never be far from you/come what may, I will walk with you."
That's followed by the equally simplistic, folky "Rhubarb Pie," a happy back porch picker about, well, the joys of rhubarb pie.
The album closes with a swamp-rock tale of a "Wicked Old Witch" and "In the Garden," an electric guitar jam that brings to mind the era of Jimi Hendrix and classic CCR.
The only complaint I have about Déjà Vu All Over Again is that, at only 10 songs, it ends too darn fast.
The answer, I suppose, is to simply play it all over again.