Let’s put it this way: I’d rather administer a hot-water enema on myself. This is quite simply the most awful drivel to drip from the soul of a graybeard since the last five minutes Paul Simon spent inside a recording studio. I’ll go Run Through The Jungle with John anytime, but I never thought he would get me running from my stereo.
Mr. Fogerty can’t seem to decide who he is: Joey Ramone (“She’s Got Baggage”); moonlight disco singer at a strip club (“Radar”); 70-year-old CCR fan turned Microsoft executive with enough time on his hands to mistake himself for Ritchie Blackmore (“Wicked Old Witch”); some anonymous dude who wishes he wrote “Sultans of Swing” (“Nobody’s Here Anymore”); middle-aged wife-beating beer-gutted Raiders fan who wants to sing about it (“Honey Do”).
This grab-bag of personas gives new meaning to the phrase “pick your poison.” Whether it’s “Sugar-Sugar” or “Rhubarb Pie,” most of these songs are bound to go down about as smoothly as a glass of WD-40. Tragically, Déjà Vu All Over Again is anything but. Blue Moon Swamp was brilliant. It was the kind of southern-fried swamp rock with a sound so real you actually started to wonder whether Fogerty had a real-life bullfrog on bass.
With Déjà vu All Over Again, the only thing you start to wonder about is how you’re going to make the pain go away. As one anemic acoustic ballad after another unfolded during my initial listen, I could not believe my ears. “This is the follow up to Blue Moon Swamp?” I wondered.
Sure, the anti-war title track has its moments, even if it sounds like new lyrics dubbed over the tune to “Who’ll Stop The Rain?” And maybe “Wicked Old Witch” and “In the Garden” come close to actually sounding like a John Fogerty album—which is a good thing, because, I just took a look, and it does say “John Fogerty” on the cover. Just checking.
But when a friend of John’s at Geffen offered him the artistic freedom that had always eluded him in the past and told him to “go make your dream record,” I wonder whether he meant for it to actually sound like a dream? Or was he just being figurative, hoping the record would sound like something that actually makes sense in the real world? I sure hope not.
In fact, all sorts of dreams come to mind with these songs. The overproduced treacle that is “Sugar-Sugar” conjures visions of freshly diapered babies trundling through an endless expanse of pink cotton candy. The far-from-appetizing “Rhubarb Pie” makes me feel like I’m trying to eat a sand and spider sandwich on year-old sourdough.
The torturously discordant “She’s Got Baggage” handily wins the “worst song of John Fogerty’s life” award; it is so awful that I had to skip to the next track for fear that I’d chew the inside of my mouth into a bloody pulp out of sheer agony.
Look, I love John. I really do. But if this is the best he can come up with these days, the man needs a day job. Someone else could have put things like “I Will Walk With You” to tape and actually maintained a scrap of dignity, but, please, not the guy who wrote Run Through the fuckin’ Jungle.
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