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.
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.
All songs written and composed by J.C. Fogerty, except where noted.