Revivals, big and small
We look at new discs from the Foo Fighters, John Fogerty, and Bruce Springsteen. Bring a bandanna, and get ready to rock.
Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace (RCA): In case you've forgotten that Foo leader Dave Grohl was Nirvana's drummer, the first two tracks of this disc provide a quick reminder with their fervid embrace of the soft-loud dynamic behind "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and other grunge classics. Grohl's band knows its way around consistent power rock, minus the hanging-by-a-thread theatrics that marred and elevated Nirvana. "Echoes" soars with lead single "The Pretender" while "Long Road to Ruin" boasts an impressive radio-friendly rock melody. There are a couple of missteps (a meandering instrumental, a strained ballad), but, all in all, this is the kind of rock record most bands would kill to make. Grade: B+ – Erik Spanberg
Goin' Home: A Tribute To Fats Domino – Various Artists (Vanguard): They threw a party for New Orleans legend Fats Domino and everybody showed up! This tribute celebrates the ageless R&B star's deep catalogue of 1950s and 1960s radio hits with an unprecedented guest list. Guests of honor include Sirs Paul McCartney and Elton John, soulful songbirds Norah Jones and Corinne Bailey Rae, country outlaws Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams, plus rockers Robert Plant and Neil Young. Delta royalty is well represented by B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, and locals Dr. John, Art Neville, and native son Randy Newman. Happily, the whole gang brought their A games and the mood is joyous over 30 tracks. Sales proceeds will support Big Easy musicians and the rebuilding of Domino's Katrina-ravaged ninth Ward home. Grade: A – John Kehe
John Fogerty – Revival (Fantasy Records): Talk about the perfect album title: With "Revival," John Fogerty resurrects his legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival sound while honing his influences. Opening track "Don't You Wish It Was True" offers a gorgeous shot of pop optimism, "Creedence Song" serves up a winking nod to his legacy, and "Broken Down Cowboy" echoes Chris Isaak-tinged rockabilly. Even if the veteran rocker is serene enough to reunite with label Fantasy Records after decades of legal sparring, he remains full of fire. On "I Can't Take It No More" Fogerty takes aim at the White House, singing, "I bet you never saw the ol' schoolyard/ I bet you never saw the National Guard/ Your Daddy wrote a check and there you are/ Another fortunate son." The verdict: It feels like we're back in "Lodi" again. Grade: A – E.S.
Bruce Springsteen – Magic (Columbia): Gutsy move, that album title. It sets up expectations before anyone hits the play button. But this E Street Band extravaganza will likely exceed even the most optimistic hopes of fans. Over 12 tracks, The Boss doesn't break new ground – you were expecting art rock? – as much as consolidate the sound that launched a million bandanna sales. "Radio Nowhere," a showcase for Stevie Van Zandt's gritty guitar and saxophonist Clarence Clemmons's blowzy bluster, sets the mandate: "I just want to hear some rhythm/ I just want a thousand guitars/ I want pounding drums." As usual, Springsteen's lyrics chronicle the lives of ordinary folk in a way that creates an impression of a larger milieu of contemporary America. But "Magic" also conjures up some of his best tunes, among them "Your Own Worst Enemy" and "Girls in Their Summer Clothes." Grade: A – Stephen Humphries