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A Very Underrated Effort - and a Different Sound for Fogerty,
This review is from: Eye Of The Zombie (Remastered) (Audio CD)
The music business is a strange business. Sometimes it's so hard to predict when an album will be a hit or miss. John Fogerty's work in the mid 1980s is as good an example of this as any. In 1985, Fogerty's album "Centerfield" shocked the industry by becoming a #1 album on the charts helping Fogerty mark a an incredible comeback. Thus when John Fogerty was ready to release his follow-up to "Centerfield" called "Eye of the Zombie", many expected the momentum of the comeback to continue. This was natural because "Eye of the Zombie" was produced only a little over a year following "Centerfield". At the same time, the music industry seemed ripe for another Fogerty album - this is because 80s music was clearly moving away from synth-pop to a more natural sound (which was a trademark of Fogerty's). However, the music industry is as unpredictable as any - "Eye of the Zombie" not only didn't succeed - it crashed and burned without many people even noticing. However, looking back at "Eye of the Zombie" I find this very hard to understand - this was a terrific album that really didn't get its due justice.
"Eye of the Zombie" isn't "Centerfield II". In fact, when you look at the two title tracks - you can contrast - "Centerfield"'s title track was full of optimism while "Eye of the Zombie" takes a more "darker" theme. The sound of this album is very different than "Centerfield". On "Eye of the Zombie", Fogerty seems to introduce a harder rock sound than he did on "Centerfield". This was consistent with a lot of what was going on in the mid 1980s as hard rock was gaining some momentum in the industry. In addition to the hard rock sound, Fogerty incorporated a lot of elements of synth-pop and this alienated many of his fans (this could be the reason for the crash and burn since 80s music was moving away from this). However, I think the formula works well. Combining a hard rock sound, some synth-pop with Fogerty's unique style of vocals - the result is something special. Fogerty also brings in some studio musician background vocalists (Bobby King, Willie Green Jr., and Terry Evans) who contribute on 6 of the nine tracks. Fogerty will wear multiple hats on several songs as he plays guitars, keyboards, and of course vocals.
There is some good music on this collection. Here is a quick look at things song by song:
"Goin Back Home": This is a true solo instrumental. Fogerty plays both guitars and keyboards. The "darker" theme that this album brings immediately comes to the forefront. There are some terrific guitar rifts in this song.
"Eye of the Zombie": This is the title track and is worthy of being the title track. This is another song with a "dark theme". You will hear a lot more of the synth-pop elements in this song. The song actually starts with a bit of "dance" beat, but then there is some terrific guitar work by Fogerty. Fogerty's vocals are classic throughout the whole song.
"Headlines": This is John Fogerty's look at the media and radio. It's a theme that's been covered by many artists. Great stuff as Fogerty complains "My head is throbbin man; Man, I'm looking for a song; The radio depress me". This song has a harder edge than the stuff on "Centerfield". Again, this works well.
"Knockin On Your Door": This song while having some synth-pop elements does kind of take me back to CCR days. While there is an infusion of keyboards on this song, I do think its Fogerty's guitar and vocals that make this a pretty good song.
"Change in the Weather": This song has much more of a Classic Fogerty feel. This is a very good blues tune. Up until this song, Fogerty had really been the star of this album (after all it's his album), but on this album the background vocalists of Bobby King, Willie Green Jr, and Terry Evans make this one terrific track.
"Violence is Golden": From a lyrical standpoint - this might be the best track on the album. This is a darker theme as indicated by "Violence" in the title. This song is sung from a mercenary's point of view of selling weapons. Fogerty brings his "A" game to this song.
"Wasn't That a Woman": This is another bluesy song in which Fogerty gets a lot of help from his vocal trio. While not one of the stronger tracks on "Eye of the Zombie", it still is a pretty good track.
"Soda Pop": Another strong piece of lyrics. In this song, Fogerty looks at the soft-drink industry - this was the age when pop stars were doing soft drink commercials (Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Madonna, etc). Fogerty looks at how these stars have sold out to commercialism. This song has a very catchy beat. As I listen to this song - this is the one place on "Eye of the Zombie" I hear sounds similar to "Centerfield"'s "Vanz Kant Danz".
"Sail Away": This is the final track. This song has more synth-pop elements in it. There almost is a folksy element overlayed on top of this song. This is a song in which Fogerty lets a lot of the anger go that he had when his comeback began (his feud over his music with Saul Zaentz) - it is almost the perfect ending to this album.
It's a shame that Fogerty would take a long hiatus following this album. Perhaps he got disillusioned again with the music industry from the lack of commercial sales. But perhaps, he was disillusioned because this album wasn't promoted nearly as well as "Centerfield" was. It's also a shame that Fogerty doesn't play a lot of this music in concert. Overall, this is a very underrated collection. I think this is a better effort than "Centerfield" and highly recommend this collection.