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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

** JOHN FOGERTY, "Blue Moon Swamp," Warner Bros.

May 18, 1997|Steve Hochman

It's a good sign when an album leaves you humming. It's not so good when what you're humming isn't on the album in question. Nearly every track on Fogerty's first album in 11 years is certain to conjure up something from the singer-guitarist's Creedence Clearwater Revival heyday. The very first bars of the set, the strummed opening of "Southern Streamline," practically dare you not to start singing "Bad Moon Rising."

That's not an entirely unpleasant phenomenon. Staunchly loyal (or perhaps limited) to the rock 'n' roll purism and Delta mythos that were already anachronistic--though refreshingly so--in the Creedence years, Fogerty again taps that aesthetic with aplomb. But what was visionary in the late '60s--and sounded renewed when Fogerty returned after his first long layoff with 1985's "Centerfield"--here sounds stale.

Even many song titles ("Rattlesnake Highway," "Swamp River Days," "Blue Moon Nights") use recycled Creedence imagery. And only one song, "Joy of My Life," an ode to his wife, is really about anything.

It's sad that while Fogerty's estranged former bandmates Stu Cook and Doug Clifford have irked him by taking to the road as a Creedence act complete with a Fogerty sound-alike singer, Fogerty himself seems unable or unwilling to do more than repeat his own formulas as well.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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