Summary

For a good portion of his solo career, John Fogerty refused to play any of his old Creedence Clearwater Revival songs -- not because he hated them but because he was tied up in a nasty legal battle with Saul Zaentz, the head of his former record label Fantasy. After a few decades, Fogerty's position softened and he started playing the tunes in concert, then, after Concord purchased Fantasy in 2004, he celebrated CCR, first with a new hits compilation combining his old band and solo work, then eventually working his way around to Wrote a Song for Everyone, a 2013 album where he revisits many of his most popular songs with a little help from his superstar friends. Savvy guy that he is, Fogerty doesn't place all of his chips on one bet: he mixes up rock and country, old and new, dabbling just a bit in R&B and alternative folk, but preferring to stick to a tastefully weathered roots rock that suits him well. Curiously, there is very little swamp rock to be heard here -- Kid Rock yowls through "Born on the Bayou," but that only helps it sound like it's coming straight out of a trailer -- and the song choice, along with the guest list, skews toward country; with Bob Seger singing "Who'll Stop the Rain" and My Morning Jacket easing back on "Long as I Can See the Light," which leaves just the aforementioned son of Detroit stomping through the bayou, and the Foo Fighters lumbering through "Fortunate Son" as pure rock & roll. Heavy as they are -- and they are, substituting volume for swing -- they're overshadowed by never-ending country-rockers, some spirited enough to enliven familiar melodies, some so sober the whole proceeding winds up seeming a bit po-faced. At worst, this means Wrote a Song for Everyone is no better than generic -- it's hard to identify Keith Urban as the duet partner on a too-smooth "Almost Saturday Night" -- but a few of the guests stamp their own identity on the cover, whether it's Brad Paisley twisting "Hot Rod Heart" (the only cover here that can't be called a hit, as it's pulled off Fogerty's acclaimed 1997 LP Blue Moon Swamp) toward his twanging Telecaster territory, or Miranda Lambert stealing the title track from her host and guest guitarist Tom Morello. All of this is enjoyable but it's rarely compelling, as very few songs play with the original arrangement in any serious fashion (Zac Brown Band's untroubled "Bad Moon Rising" is the exception that proves the rule). It's telling that the lasting moments arrive either when Fogerty unveils two solid new solo songs -- "Mystic Highway" and "Train of Fools" -- or when he leads his sons through the terrific, bluesy choogle of "Lodi," turning the lament into a celebration. All three cuts prove that Fogerty, no matter how much fun he's having elsewhere on the record, doesn't need any guests to sound alive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine