Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
[Welcome to Thirty Year Thursday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1986]
Artist: JOHN FOGERTY
Album: EYE OF THE ZOMBIE
John Fogerty’s 1985 album Centerfield was a joyous surprise that found the former Creedence Clearwater Revival singer/guitarist/songwriter still in top form. It was only the third record he had released since CCR disbanded in 1972, and his first in a decade, so there was no guarantee that he still had an audience who wanted to hear new music from him. Happy (and patient) fans rewarded him with a chart-topping album and two Top 20 singles, and he rewarded us with “that voice” which sounded as good as ever. How would he follow-up that massive success? With Eye Of The Zombie, an album that alienated many fans with a number of synth-drenched pop tunes. This was definitely not Centerfield Part 2. I won’t try to convince anyone that it’s a great album but I loved this new direction and I still think it’s a fun listen. The front cover, however, is a completely different story.
“Change In The Weather” is the undeniable highlight, a classic-sounding swampy Fogerty song that just might be the best thing in his post-Creedence discography. The instrumental “Goin’ Back Home” is a Pink Floyd-inspired way to open the record, featuring stinging lead guitar over synth-choir vocals. This leads into the rockin’ “Eye Of The Zombie” with the 41-year-old singer sounding as fierce as he did nearly 2 decades earlier. “Wasn’t That A Woman” is a lively synth-pop nugget and both “Knockin’ On Your Door” & “Soda Pop” are repetitive but fun tracks with infectious grooves. All three of these will scare away anyone with an aversion to synthetic ‘80s sounds but I’ve always loved them. Even lesser songs like “Headlines” and “Violence Is Golden” are worth hearing simply for Fogerty’s guitar work. “Sail Away” closes the album in strong fashion with atmospheric verses and shuffling choruses, as well as some of the most optimistic lyrics here: “Leavin’ all of this doubt behind, gonna sail away.” I’m eager to find out if anyone else enjoyed this album when it first appeared and I’m equally curious about how it sounds to someone hearing it for the first time 30 years later. I remain a fan even though it’s not the first Fogerty album I would recommend to newcomers.