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Chart Chat Album Review : Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – ‘Going Back Home’ 21.03.14

Chart Chat Album Review : Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – ‘Going Back Home’ (21.03.14)

For anyone unaware I was diagnosed with cancer in late 2012, only a matter of weeks before Wilko Johnson discovered he had terminal cancer of the pancreas.  I admired his attitude as he refused chemotherapy to undertake a farewell tour and possibly record a new album.  When he declared he was unable to fulfill his final two shows scheduled for Canvey Island in March 2013 it seemed we had heard the last from him.  Then in July he made a surprise reappearance at the Village Green Festival in his home town of Westcliffe On Sea.  His good form continued into the final quarter of 2013 when he spent a week recording this album with The Who frontman Roger Daltrey at Yellow Fish studio in Uckfield.  Now here in 2014 he is continuing unabated with a support slot on Status Quo’s “Frantic Four” line up final tour and some gigs of his own.  

His refusal to give in to cancer has helped renew interest in his back catalogue, and he is seen by many as a true British hero.  This album doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t.  It’s not arty or pretentious, it’s just heads down rock n roll.  And I defy you not to smile or get up and play air guitar while listening to it.  It’s infectious!  Here is our track by track guide :

Going Back Home

Co-written by the now deceased Mick Green, this originally appeared on Dr Feelgood’s 1975 album ‘Malpractice’ but it sounds revitalised with Daltrey on vocals.  It’s upbeat and triumphant in a different way to the original, and it is a great way to kick start the album. 

Ice On The Motorway

This comes from the Wilko Johnson Band and was the fourth track on side one of their 1981 album of the same name.  It sounds revitalised some thirty years after it was originally recorded and the lyrics “think about the girls in California / I tell you man I’d rather stay at home” still make me smile.

I Keep It To Myself

This featured on the 1988 album ‘Barbed Wire Blues’ and now it is the third track on this latest release.  It was the closest thing to releasing a single as it was available for fans to download just ahead of the albums release.  According to current iTunes data this is the most downloaded standalone track and I can see exactly why as it is certainly one of my favourites too.

Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window

Originally written by Bob Dylan, this sticks out as the one cover on the album.  I like this no nonsense version but some diehard fans have expressed that with so much material to choose from they would rather have had an album of Wilko compositions.  It still stands up after a few plays and is certainly not a track to skip.

Turned 21

Along with ‘I Keep It To Myself’ this also featured on 1988’s ‘Barbed Wire Blues’.  The majority of this album offers no nonsense up tempo rhythm and blues, but this is a beautiful slower song (I am reluctant to hang the label “ballad” around its neck”.  “And the long summer days / and they beat like a drum / darling you turned 21” sings Daltrey.  Perfect.

Keep On Loving You

This was co-written with Norman Watt-Roy and drummer Salvatore Ramundo with the former joining Johnson’s band after the two of them shared a brief stay in Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads in 1980.  It has more of a blues feel to it and showcases Wilko’s fine guitar work.

Some Kind Of Hero

Fast and furious, this is easily the shortest track on the album clocking in at just 2 minutes 25 seconds.  His original recording was a little longer at 2 minutes 33 seconds. It’s hard not to move along to this one, and it sounds great in the car!

Sneaking Suspicion

This was the title track from Dr Feelgood’s 1977 album which was their last featuring Johnson as guitarist. He was replaced in the band by Gypie Mayo and following further line up changes Steve Walwyn has held that role since the early 1990’s. This was the first track that got me into Wilko having heard his own update it prior to this latest version.  This is pretty good but worth checking out the other versions if you haven’t heard them already.

Keep It Out Of Sight

This first surfaced on Dr Feelgood’s 1975 album ‘Down By The Jetty’ but various versions have been released over the years. A BBC John Peel Session was unearthed while a live version was included on the ‘All Through The City’ compilation which rounded up Dr Feelgoods output between 1974 and 1977.  It was later recorded by Wilko, and now comes this version with Daltrey on vocals.  It’s hard to pick which one is my favourite but this one certains stands alongside the best of them.

Everybody’s Carrying A Gun

Another early Feelgood recording, which originally appeared as a two minute “Olympic Version” and an eight minute “Rockfield Version”.  This version comes in at a little under three minutes long and is one of my favourite tracks on the album.

All Through The City

This closes the album and is another track which first appeared on the ‘Down By The Jetty’ album.  It was the closest the album had to a title track with the chorus being “I’ve been searching all through the city / see you in the morning down by the jetty’. It also featured on the soundtrack to the film ‘This Is England 1986’.  It was certainly one of Dr Feelgood’s finest songs and it’s a great way to round off this album.  

The whole album runs for just 35 minutes, which harks back to the days of vinyl when this would be the average length of an LP. That is in no way a bad thing as this is a fine selection of tracks – no need for any fillers to extend playing time for CD.

Wilko continues to defy the doctors original timescales for his demise and is now even booked in to play the Glastonbury Festival. Whatever happens from here on in this album will be remembered as one of the best of 2014 and it serves as a reminder to some that the best music does not need to be complicated.  


Ian Anderson (@chartchatuk)

4 April, 2014 - Posted by | ChartChat

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