John Fogerty
Blue Moon Swamp
(Warner)
    


From the first "Bad Moon Rising" style guitar opening of "Southern Streamline," you know that the leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival has returned with a vengeance — and with something both old and new, bad and blue to say.

Much of Blue Moon Swamp has that classic guitar and vocal sound that made CCR songs like "Fortunate Son" and "Down on the Corner" feel classic and timeless. The reason? After Fogerty's mid-'80s comeback with the successful Centerfield and easier forgotten followup Eye of the Zombie, he stepped back out of the limelight to do a bit of musical digging. Call it rock soul research. That research eventually took him to the Mississippi delta area where roots rock was born and Fogerty found renewed inspiration.

Five years after he began work on Blue Moon Swamp, we at last have the result of his travels to weigh — and it tips the scales as a winner. Blue Moon Swamp features a variety of crack session musicians, who serve up a '90s distillation of pure American roots rock, with blues, country, R&B, western swing and driving rock all tucked in between Fogerty's lusciously earthy licks. It's got its misses — the closing track "Bad Bad Boy" wails and whines and "A Hundred and Ten In The Shade" seems merely a deep South set piece. But the majority of the flotsam in this Swamp do more than just float, they fly. "Rambunctious Boy" is a "Centerfield" style joyous singalong ("oh, my I'm a restless guy/got a home everywhere I go") and "Walking In A Hurricane" kicks off with a driving beat and a "Route 66" riff before rhythm rockin' into the album's hardest rockin' centerpiece chorus:

"I go walking in a hurricane
I come crawling in the driving rain
I keep searching til I go insane
I've got to have you love."

"Hot Rod Heart" is a pure thumping road song, "Swamp River Days" chugs along like old CCR's "Green River" and "Blue Moon Nights" has a classic Roy Orbison/Buddy Holly era feel.

Given Fogerty's history of putting a decade between solo releases, Blue Moon Swamp is an especially welcome return from one of rock's seminal voices. Don't miss it.

 

Various Artists
Music From and Inspired by the Batman & Robin motion picture
(Warner)
  1/2


Prince practically created the "music from and inspired by" soundtrack tag with his soundtrack additon to the original Batman movie (which Danny Elfman actually scored), and few soundtracks have since been as cohesive or complete. The latest Batman movie soundtrack —this time to the film Batman & Robin — is a mixed bag of music, including ho-hum entries from Soul Coughing, R.E.M. and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony as well as winners from Smashing Pumpkins, Jewel and Goo Goo Dolls. The Pumpkins lead off and close the disc with "The End is the Beginning Is The End" and "The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning." (The former is the hard rock single currently getting radio play, the latter is a more atmospheric, eerie version of the same theme.) Jewel offers a re-recording of "Foolish Games" from her smash debut album which stands miles above the original recording; the new version speeds the piano-based ballad up a hair, and allows Jewel to sing in a less melodramatic (yet more affecting) timbre than the original. R. Kelly delivers a smooth big beat and strings ballad (and the only obviously Batman-related track) in "Gotham City." Arkarna uses a familar Batman theme snippet in its dance floor shaker "House on Fire," a club DJ dream. Goo Goo Dolls provide a driving guitar track in "Lazy Eye" and Lauren Christy offers the razor lyric-ed "Breed" (a paeon to the drive to procreate). There are also songs from Moloko, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Underworld and Eric Benet as well as a short excerpt from the actual film orchestral score.