CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL Willy And The Poor Boys (Fantasy)
Despite Creedence’s fearsome productivity rate – “Willy And The Poor Boys” was their third album of 1969 – there’s absolutely no discernible dip in quality here. Cynical minds might point to a slim running time padded out with covers and instrumentals, but that would cruelly ignore just how well Creedence’s albums worked as albums, rather than merely being disparate collections of songs rounded up to satisfy contractual obligations.
“Willy And The Poor Boys” opens optimistically with the busking feelgood factor of “Down On The Corner”, the rip-snorting rock ‘n’ roll space oddity “It Came Out Of The Sky” and the rose-tinted nostalgia of “Cotton Fields” (although The Beach Boys got to that one first, admittedly). In a glorious metatextual self-referential “Sgt. Pepper” moment the cover photo and the titular ensemble namedropped in “Down On The Corner” all come together on “Poorboy Shuffle”, but as it pans off to the right the steady percussive thump of “Feelin’ Blue” rolls in from the left like a gathering storm, and the mood darkens considerably. It’s almost as though the album sheds its blinkers at that point, preparing to confront the politically and socially charged times that surrounded it. It’s a side of the band that rarely seemed to make it to compilations or the radio…aside from the following “Fortunate Son”, of course, an astonishing, accusatory 140 seconds dominated by John Fogerty’s throat-shredding vocals, which might just leave you wondering why Creedence’s influence on punk hasn’t been more frequently cited. “Don’t Look Now” is a Guthrie-esque workingman’s choogle, a sparse but pointed sermon. Possibly the finest moment in album crammed with competition, though, is the closing six-and-a-half minute “Effigy”. It almost feels like stumbling upon a previously unheard Neil Young song of “Southern Man” potency; magnificent, chilling and sulphurous.
The current vinyl issue of “Willy And The Poor Boys” has been sensitively mastered to heavyweight vinyl and wrapped in authentically vintage packaging, right down to the design of the labels. It also sounds absolutely ravishing in its crunchy, chunky analogue loveliness.
CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL Green River (Fantasy)
Although rarely reluctant to proclaim his own genius, could it be possible that John Fogerty is underrated by everybody except himself? Listening to another excellent Creedence Clearwater Revival reissue, it’s a tempting conclusion. Their third album, “Green River” crackles with rock ‘n’ roll vitality, even if it burns itself out in less than 30 minutes.
The title track and “Commotion” are brief, brilliant and blistering, “Tombstone Shadow” bluff, bluesy and unstoppable, “Sinister Purpose” appropriately threatening. “Bad Moon Rising” is perhaps the textbook definition of the art of choogle, sounding like Johnny Cash’s Sun recordings fortified against the crash and burn fallout of the hippie dream. As with the album’s successor, “Willy And The Poor Boys”, it’s the moments that haven’t been relentlessly plundered for compilation duty that are the most magical, top honours here being taken by the shoulder-shrugging melancholia of “Wrote A Song For Everyone”.
Lovingly mastered and carefully pressed on heavyweight vinyl, the music practically floods out from this wonderful record. The labels promise “Full Radial Stereo”, and I do believe I get it.