Saturday, February 13, 2016

"Willy and the Poor Boys," Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)

“Willie and the Poor Boys” was my birthday present in 1970, when I was in the 4th grade.

It seemed at the time, and nothing has transpired in the 45-plus years since to make me change my mind, that everyone liked Creedence Clearwater Revival.  All of my friends loved them; my parents loved them; even the teachers let us listen to their records during lunch every now and then.

Every Creedence album had a formula, and “Willy and the Poor Boys” was no different: a couple of massive radio hits (in this instance, “Down on the Corner” and “Fortunate Son”), a couple of John Fogerty-penned classics (“It Came Out of the Sky,” “Don’t Look Now”), a couple of oldies/traditionals performed Creedence-style (“Cotton Fields,” “The Midnight Special”), and a couple of songs that (at the time) I called “the long songs” (“Feelin’ Blue,” “Effigy”).

Thinking about it now it seems like a bit of an odd mix, but have no doubt – Creedence was a great, great band, perhaps the greatest American band of all.  Their flame may have burned for a relatively short time, but during that time it burned incredibly bright.

Christgau: A+. “Somehow I have never bothered to state my almost unqualified admiration for John Fogerty. Creedence's ecumenical achievement is almost unbelievable: this is the only group since the Beatles and the Stones to turn out hit after hit without losing any but the most perverse hip music snobs. With this in mind, Fogerty's subtlety as a political songwriter (have you ever really dug the words of "Fortunate Son"?) comes as no surprise. This is everything a good rock album should be--the best they've done yet, I think.”

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