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John Fogerty stuck in low gear again on duets album

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Updated: June 29, 2013 6:07AM

John Fogerty, “Wrote a Song for Everyone” (Vanguard) 

Many artists could benefit from the kind of legal troubles that beset John Fogerty. For nearly a decade, during a protracted battle with his former record label, Fogerty refused to perform his old Credence Clearwater Revival songs. But he emerged from the dispute with a reinvigorated legacy, welcomed by a fanbase positively salivating for a catalog whose legend had appreciated considerably. Ever since, Fogerty has been trying — not always successfully — to reintegrate that golden ’60s past with whatever occasionally moves him in the present.

Fogerty, 67, seems to need the one to inspire the other, dipping into that reliable CCR songbank off and on during the last 15 years and recording good new albums in the wake of each drink from the well. The feistiness of 1998’s live album, “Premonition,” informed the fine songwriting of 2004’s “Déjà vu All Over Again”; another live set in 2006, “The Long Road Home,” juiced the great songs on 2007’s “Revival.” The balance between old and new no doubt also satisfies the balance sheets — and, while “Wrote a Song for Everyone” is a fine record, well arranged and beautifully recorded, the shopworn duets format on a bunch of old songs (two new offerings fail to stand out) smacks of retirement planning and a lack of inspiration.

The match-ups are at least wisely selected. The Foo Fighters kick off the set by barreling through the growling protest of “Fortunate Son,” all the while Fogerty shrieks his parts with a weird and frequently hilarious Axl Rose yowl. Fogerty’s country leanings fit naturally with Alan Jackson (“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”), Keith Urban (a nice mosey through “Almost Saturday Night”) and the Zac Brown Band (a less foreboding, string-laden “Bad Moon Rising”). Bob Seger is the best get for “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” even though his voice falters a bit, and Tom Morello’s lyrical guitar solo is a nice capper on the title track. “Proud Mary,” of course, closes the album, this time with a rolling New Orleans boogie backed by the omnipresent Allen Toussaint, the Rebirth Jazz Band and Chicago’s own Jennifer Hudson throwing around some measured Tina Turner sass. All good fun, sure, but in the end it’s just another nostalgia act and fails to argue against the notion that Fogerty remains a poor man’s Neil Young.

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