John Fogerty has written a couple dozen good to great songs, and some of them are included on "Wrote a Song for Everyone" (Vanguard). It pairs the masterful songwriter with friends and admirers ranging from My Morning Jacket to Alan Jackson as they revisit classics such as “Long as I Can See the Light” and “Someday Never Comes,” with mostly underwhelming results.
It's almost impossible to screw up Fogerty's sturdiest numbers, but some of his collaborators sound like they're trying too hard to put their thumbprints all over them: Keith Urban’s banjo-inflected "Almost Saturday Night," Tom Morello's whinnying guitar solo on "Wrote a Song for Everyone" (undercutting a potent vocal by Miranda Lambert), the Cajun-gospel overkill of Jennifer Hudson and the Rebirth Brass Band on "Proud Mary." Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters slaughter "Fortunate Son" by reimagining it as a heavy-metal screamer. Kid Rock does little except mimic Fogerty on "Born on the Bayou."
Fogerty himself contributes a couple of new tracks, but they fall flat. The trippy, time-traveling “Mystic Highway” comes off muddled, and a lumbering arrangement undercuts the anger in “Train of Fools.”
Only two performances measure up. Bob Seger brings just the right bone-weary edge to "Who'll Stop the Rain," and Jackson takes "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" to the honky tonk, where it sounds right at home. Both veteran singers get it: With songs this good, no gimmicks necessary.