- The Album
From John Fogerty
That Never Was
"Hoodoo" is the album from John Fogerty that never was. Some
background information to show how this situation occured is in order. When Creedence
Clearwater Revival split up in 1972, John Fogerty began recording a solo album of covers
of some of his favorite tunes. Thinking at the time that releasing the album under his own
name would cause people to not judge the album on its own merit, Fogerty released the
album under the alias of The Blue Ridge Rangers. The only place on the album Fogerty's
name appeared was in the small print on the back as "Arranged and produced by John
While the "Rangers" album was and is a "cult" classic, it was
overlooked for the most part by the general public. Despite wide airplay of a couple of
singles from the album ("Jambalaya", "Hearts Of Stone") Fogerty's
first solo effort while still at Fantasy Records did not garner the sales or audience
expected. Fogerty released two more singles while at Fantasy. "You Don't Owe Me"
b/w "Back In The Hills" were original Fogerty tunes, released under the Blue
Ridge Rangers name. "You Don't Owe Me" received some airplay in the USA. Radio
station programmers had a hard time classifying these tunes; were they country, or
rockabilly, or what? Fogerty's next release, the first time John Fogerty was listed as the
artist instead of "The Blue Ridge Rangers" was another original, "Comin'
Down The Road" b/w a hot instrumental tune, "Richochet". The quality of the
pressing of this Fantasy single was awful, the sound was so bad radio stations refused to
play it. This crippled any chances that the catchy "Comin' Down The Road" might
have had, and this fact did not go unnoticed by Fogerty.
At this point, burdened and frustrated with Fantasy Records over royalties, contract
hassles, and musical stagnation, Fogerty simply stopped making records. Warner Brothers
honcho David Geffen contacted Fogerty, and made a deal to get him released from his
Fantasy contracts. Geffen signed Fogerty to the Elektra/Asylum label of Warner. The first
result was the 1975 LP, simply titled 'John Fogerty'. This album can best be described a
flawed record from a great artist. There are several songs that almost cross the line into
the area of Fogerty at his best, most notably "Dream/Song", a loping
"Lodi" style tune which easily tops all the other songs on the LP. Fogerty's
weakness on this album is twofold. His drumming and bass playing are just not strong
enough, the drumming in particular is timid. This initial solo effort by Fogerty after
leaving Fantasy is nontheless an enjoyable mish mosh of styles, led by Fogerty's
In mid 1976, Fogerty had enough material for a followup record to his self-titled 1975
release. The 1975 album drew mixed reviews from fans and critics, and was not a big
seller. Early in 1976 Fogerty released a single, "You Got The Magic" (b/w
"Evil Thing"). "You Got The Magic" got moderate airplay in the US
during the "disco duck" era. These two songs, plus seven others were to
collectively be the "Hoodoo" album.
"You Got The Magic", despite critical acclaim and widespread radio airplay,
was not a success. Fogerty's own admission of a lack of musical confidence convinced
Warner Brothers Records boss Joe Smith to have a talk with Fogerty. According to published
accounts, Smith had doubts about the album's quality. Smith played the LP with Fogerty in
his office, and said, "Look John, this is just not a good record. We'll put it out if
you really want us to, but we'd rather not." (This is documented in the April 1985
issue of "Guitar Player" magazine.) Fogerty was known to be still tweaking
the"Hoodoo" material as late as 1978-1980.
One must listen to "Hoodoo" with a remembrance of the musical scene in 1976.
Discos and leisure suits ruled. Musically, only Bob Seger and the Stones were producing
anything halfway decent. It would seem an ideal time for John Fogerty to return and rescue
rock n' roll. Unfortunately, Fogerty was in the midst of a continuing legal battle with
Fantasy, his old record label. His writing and musicianship suffered greatly due to this.
"Hoodoo" gives us flashes of recurring themes in Fogerty's music and lyrics,
both in the past and yet to come. "Hoodoo" is driven by a compressed Telecaster
guitar sound so prominent on "Centerfield", with the emphasis on the low
strings. There are horns and a sax solo, Hammond B3 organ, Farfisa "surf" organ,
and a honkey tonk piano thrown in along with a banjo. Fogerty even makes use of the dated
and dreaded "wah-wah" pedal, and the Heil "Talk Box", as made famous
by Steppenwolf's John Kay, Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton. Fogerty's voice is very strong
throughout the album. Here is a review of "Hoodoo" song by song.
- "You Got The Magic" - One of only two songs ever commercially distributed from
the album (as a single), it has a memorable, haunting intro. This powerful introduction
builds into pure John Fogerty, with lyrical references to "shadows of night" and
"faces in the fire". Overdubbed guitar riffs abound in classic Fogerty fashion,
and a Farfisa organ thrown into the mix adds to the overall weirdness the song speaks of.
The screaming lead guitar solo is one of Fogerty's better thought out riffs. This tune
indeed has "the magic".
- "Between The Lines" - This song has a Dylan-esque organ and lead guitar duet
driven rhythm, and features Fogerty's strong vocals. Not your typical Fogerty rocker, this
ambling piece nevertheless is captivating with its mournful paranoid lyrics. With plenty
of Telecaster low string guitar licks filling in at just the right time, this song sounds
uncannily like a modern era Bruce Springsteen tune. Fogerty's pathos ridden lyrics are
highlighted by a minor chord chorus thrown in for good measure. Although a sloppy snare
drum roll ends this tune (ringing vocals and guitar would have made a better ending) this
cut is my favorite from the "Hoodoo" album.
- "Leave My Woman Alone" - An altogether different arrangement than heard on his
1985 "John Fogerty's All Stars" TV special. This version has stronger guitars,
and an annoying "fuzz" bass sound popular at the time. The lead vocals and
harmonies are subpar in comparison to the "All Stars" version. Aside from a
decent Telecaster lead guitar break reminiscent of a Steve Cropper (Booker T & The
MG's) solo, this song is weak. Fogerty's arrangement is to blame; the tune is overplayed
- Marchin' To Blarney" - Whew! Boy was I glad to find out this one is an
instrumental. With a drum introduction that makes you fear the sound of bagpipes to
follow, this tune winds up being a Telecaster overdub showcase for one of Fogerty's catchy
guitar licks. With some banjo and a number of other instruments nicely blended in the
music, this is a very listenable tune.
- "Hoodoo Man" - Fast paced and suitably lyrically spooky, this rocker is prime
John Fogerty. If Fogerty had left out the "Money, Money" derivitive guitar riff
in the intro and produced a more inventive lead guitar solo, this song would be even
better. Noteworthy is the Gibson Les Paul Custom neck pickup lead guitar riffs here that
Fogerty later put to good use on "The Old Man Down The Road" (played on a
Washburn guitar). A bit of the "talk box" guitar sound is on this cut also.
- "Telephone" - Another highlight, this Motown sound influenced tune again
showcases the vocals of Fogerty. With several unexpected turns and chord changes, Fogerty
keeps this tune lively. It would not be hard to imagine Al Green singing this song.
Punctuated by a tasteful saxophone solo by Fogerty, this is one more tune that shoulda
been out there. The only negative is the electronic or "fuzz" bass again in use
- "Evil Thing" - The "B" side of the released single "You Got The
Magic". This cut suffers from the use of an electronic bass and wah-wah pedal guitar.
Lyrically, it is another of Fogerty's well conceived paranoid pieces, this time about a
love affair gone astray, one of the few times Fogerty has ever written about man/woman
relationships. Sadly, the catchy lyrics are overcome by overdone instrument playing,
notably the wah-wah guitar and a chunky keyboard bass sound. The drumming is also
- "Henrietta" - Let's rock. You can hear Fogerty's trademark method of counting
off the start of a song here (1,2, 1-2-3-4) and away we go on "Hoodoo's" most
satisfying pure rock n' roll cut. This song is a basic three chord rocker, but leave it to
Fogerty to throw in a few curves here and there to make it unique. This cut is where the
"talk-box" is notably used by Fogerty. Thankfully, he doesn't attempt to speak
with it, but uses it more like Joe Walsh ("Rocky Mountain Way") or John Kay
& Steppenwolf ("Hey Lawdy Mama"). With the great rhythm section, honkey tonk
piano and rocking guitars combined with strong vocals, this one is a keeper.
- "On The Run" - The last cut again showcases the vocal magic John Fogerty
possesses. Soulfully sung, this tune starts out quiet, and builds to a nice paced number.
Fogerty's bass playing and drumming are on the mark on this uptempo cut. With a clever
bridge lyrically and musically, the song remains interesting. Fogerty fades out this cut
normally, and then roars back into a final few bars of vintage Fogerty guitar jam in
another key to fadeout.
The question remains, should "Hoodoo" have been
released? Fogerty has stated he was lost musically and basically grabbing at
straws (thus the wah-wah pedals and other gimmicks). I think the record needed a bit of
polishing before it was released. The drum rolls at the end of "Between The
Lines", a bit different and stronger intro to "Hoodoo Man", drop
"Leave My Woman Alone", and add another song from the library. A little editing
and remixing here and there on some other cuts and you'd have a decent record. With that
in mind, I believe the album is strong enough to have been released. It is indeed
interesting to hear the primordial soup from which the album "Centerfield" came.
I hope John re-records "Between The Lines" and "Hoodoo Man" on a