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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys: 50th anniversary (Craft)

21 December 2019

1969 was a stellar year for CCR, who released three albums that remain rock and roll staples. Bayou Country arrived in January with singles including “Proud Mary” and “Born on the Bayou.” August brought Green River with “Bad Moon Rising” and other favorites. November saw release of Willy and the Poor Boys with the potent protest of “Fortunate Son.” Craft honors the 50th anniversaries of the latter two albums with two heavyweight vinyl reissues.

The nostalgia for an idyllic childhood described in Green River’s title cut and the heavy weather of undisputed American classic “Bad Moon Rising” both hit #2 on the charts. The melancholy “Lodi” tells the tale of a once starry-eyed and hopeful musician who finds himself down and out, playing honky-tonks in a dead-end town. “Commotion” lives up to its name, as Doug “Cosmo” Clifford’s frenetic rockabilly beat underscores a description of hectic city life. During “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” John Fogerty’s vulnerable lyric laments the communication breakdown within a crumbling relationship. “Wrote a song for everyone, and I couldn’t even talk to you,” he sings. The group’s soulful tribute to Ray Charles’ version of Nappy Brown’s 1957 single “The Night Time is the Right Time” swings hard and packs a knockout punch.

Willy and the Poor Boys features lighthearted fare with songs like the urban-folk escapism of “Down on the Corner,” traditional prison song “The Midnight Special,” and a cover of blues titan Lead Belly’s “Cotton Fields.” Satire, sci-fi, and politics blend during the barnstorming Chuck Berry boogie of “It Came Out of the Sky.” Fogerty howls his most pointed critique, however, while targeting class warfare and the Vietnam War on enduring protest anthem “Fortunate Son.”

Both albums feature the splendid Abbey Road half-speed mastering included in 2018’s Studio Albums Collection box set. Compared to an older pressing on 120-gram vinyl of Willy and the Poor Boys that was used for comparison, Cosmo’s kick drum provides a bit of additional thump on “Fortunate Son.” Fogerty’s guitar has feral bite and his gravel-etched voice cuts with righteous indignation. Stu Cook’s steady bass propels the soulful groove of “Feelin’ Blue.” Tom Fogerty’s chugging rhythm guitar benefits from improved sonic clarity and joins brother John’s piano to instigate spontaneous twisting during “It Came Out of the Sky.”