The Blue Ridge Rangers:
An anonymous tour-de- force?
The background story...
While touring with CCR in 1971 / 1972 John practiced steel guitar, fiddle and some other new instruments. After playing that evening's gig he, together with Stu and Doug returned to their hotel room where they would get drunk and play country tunes all night long (after consuming loadsa beer and renaming themselves ''The Shit-Kicker Three from room 73''. This is where John might have gotten the idea of doing an all country album. He also started wearing a white stetson all the time. Directly after the disbanding of CCR in 1972, he wasted no time recording some of his favorite country, bluegrass and gospel tunes.
Because he didn't have a band anymore, John played all the instruments himself. Careful over dubbing made us believe there was a real band at work here. This was also suggested by the album's front cover, showing five different men standing on a sunset- lit hill. Careful examination though shows they are all John Fogerty.
If you click here, you will be taken to the Photo Gallery where you see pictures of John playing various instruments in the studio during the Blue Ridge Rangers sessions! These are very cool images, check them out NOW!
These pictures were taken from an article which appeared in a German newspaper called BRAVO. You can read that article here.
Preceeding the album was a single ''Hearts Of Stone/Somewhere Listening (For My Name)''. That same month, April 1972, saw the release of the album.
Again, John Fogerty's choice of songs and arrangements were impressive. Country always played a major part in Creedence's music and this is where John's roots were laid bare, paying tribute to the songs he got so much inspiration from. Gospel to bluegrass, country to dixieland, it's all here in tight, compact arrangements. This album still runs rings around many contemporary country artists who try to mimic the sounds of these classics.
It has to be noted here that a single was released, ''You Don't Owe Me/Back In The Hills'', under the Blue Ridge Rangers name with two non-album tracks penned by John Fogerty, so no covers on this single. A rocking tune backed with an up-tempo gospel- like tune. They could've easily fit on the album. Then again, there were plans for a new BRR album though Fogerty never got round to recording it all. Thanks (again) Robert Aerts for the cool single-covers!
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues: A bluegrass opener, with some neat banjo playing and fiddling. This song is about being homesick and is sung in a relaxed way, eventhough it's up-tempo all the way. . .
Somewhere Listening (For My Name): A mid tempo gospel song, with great background vocals, showing how Fogerty can take a totally different style and make it his own.
You're The Reason: A brilliant country song, done brilliantly. Good guitar licks and good vocals.
Jambalaya (On The Bayou): Hank doesn't roll around in his grave when this song hits the airwaves. One of the more rocky songs on the album. John really puts his teeth into this one and it shows.
She Thinks I Still Care: One of the great country classics, done in a classic way.
California Blues (Blue Yodel #4): One of Jimmie Rogers' blue yodels, with some great dixie style brass band in the instrumental part.
Workin' On A Building: Opens with a chant before going into a mid tempo style song. Very nice.
Please Help Me I'm Falling: Maybe one of the saddest love stories around and it fits in nicely.
Have Thine Own Way, Lord: A slow gospel tune, well sung with a good steel guitar / acoustic guitar backing. Not my favorite though.
I Ain't Never: A relaxed song about man/woman misunderstandings (but he still loves her... aahhh)
Hearts Of Stone: One of the more rocking songs on the album, with some great guitar work and smashing vocals.
Today I Started Loving You Again: One of Merle Haggard's greatest and John does a very good job on this one... Ending with a very delicately played steel guitar solo, and a good choice to close the album in style.
The Spanish 'You Don't Owe Me / Back In The Hills' single cover
The Japanese 'You Don't Owe Me / Back In The Hills' single cover
John Fogerty at work during the BRR sessions.