Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys – [Record 178]
Willy and the Poor Boys is the fourth studio album by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival, released by Fantasy Records in November 1969, and was the last of three studio albums that the band released in that year (see 1969 in music). The album was remastered and reissued on 180 Gram Vinyl by Analogue Productions in 2006.
The album features the songs “Down on the Corner”, from which the album got its name, and “Fortunate Son”, which is a well known protest song.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 392 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
1. Down on the Corner.
2. It Came Out of the Sky.
3. Cotton Fields.
4. Poorboy Shuffle.
5. Feelin’ Blue.
1. Fortunate Son.
2. Don’t Look Now (It Ain’t You or Me).
3. The Midnight Special.
4. Side o’ the Road.
History: In June, CCR released its third LP, Green River. Shortly after the band began recording songs for its next LP, Willy and the Poor Boys. Ten months later the band released its eighth single, “Down on the Corner” b/w “Fortunate Son”. The single’s A-side reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and its B-side made it to #64, both in 1974.
When the band members were finalizing the album, they and photographer Basul Parik went over to the intersection of Peralta St. and Hollis St. in Oakland, California and shot the photograph of the cover at Duck Kee Market owned by Ruby Lee.
The album was released in November as Fantasy 8397, and in 1970 made the Top 50 in six countries, including France where it reached #1.
On December 16, 1970, the Recording Industry Association of America certified the album Gold (500,000 units sold). Almost 20 years later, on December 13, 1990, the album was certified platinum (1,000,000 units sold) and 2x Platinum (2,000,000 units sold).
In 1982 the band’s rendition of Lead Belly’s “Cotton Fields at Home” made #50 on Billboard magazine’s Country Singles chart.
On June 10, 2008 the album was remastered and released by Concord Music Group as a Compact Disc, with three bonus tracks.
Reception: The album was well received, exemplified by the original review in Rolling Stone, which stated it was “the best one yet”. Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine contrasted Willy and the Poor Boys with their previous album, Green River, because the songs were softer and more upbeat, except for “Effigy”, and stating that “Fortunate Son” is not as dated as most of the other protest songs of the era. However, he also feels the song is a little out of place on the album. He also compared “Poorboy Shuffle” to songs performed by jug bands and he called the album “pure”. In the Blender magazine review of the album it was called the opposite of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and psychedelic rock, which the reviewer feels is because of the band’s performance at the Woodstock Festival. In his review for the album, Robert Christgau says that he thought it was their best album, when it was released, and feels John Fogerty’s political lyrics are easy to understand, giving the album his highest rating of all of CCR’s albums. For his Rolling Stone review of the 40th Anniversary reissue of the album, Barry Walters called the album “relaxed” and gives credit to Fogerty for writing a protest song, “Fortunate Son”, that has a good beat to it.