Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – Going Back Home
Having been a fan of Dr. Feelgood and Ian Dury’s Blockheads, the news of Wilko Johnson’s terminal cancer diagnosis was just another depressing bit of news on top of the loss of Phil Brown of the Records and Doug Fieger of The Knack not so long ago. And after Lee Brilleaux’s premature departure from this planet, I’d given up on hearing a “real” Feelgoods record again. Last year, Johnson booked a week long studio session and with the help of The Who’s Roger Daltrey and the Blockheads’ rhythm section, together they took one last crack at making an album no one would forget. A real old-school R&B record. An authentic Feelgoods record. In my opinion, they succeeded BIG TIME.
Back in January of last year, Johnson was given 6 months to live. I’m told that he made up his mind to embark on a farewell tour, if you will. Doctors did not expect him to last much longer than the length of the tour itself. However, the tour was such a success and he had such a blast doing it, he followed that up by scheduling a tour of Japan despite his condition. And now this LP.
The seed for this LP was actually planted back a few years ago when Johnson and Daltrey were discussing their mutual admiration of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates. At that time, they discussed the possibility of collaborating on an R&B album and, with the grim diagnosis, it seemed that there was no time like the present.
Going Back Home is 11 tracks of mostly Dr. Feelgood material that Johnson wrote back in the day. Being a fan of Lee Brilleaux (the original Dr. Feelgood lead vocalist), I had my reservations as to whether Roger Daltrey could do these songs justice. But he does…and then some. His vocals are strong throughout, giving some very memorable songs new life. Highlights include new versions of past Feelgood hits such as “Keep It Out of Sight and “I Keep It To Myself”, with Daltrey’s growl making the latter every bit as good as the original. They saved the best for last with a remake of the Feelgoods classic “All Through the City”. That really brought back memories as my parents gave me a disc containing that song for my 18th birthday all those years ago.
Goin’ back home, indeed.