Saturday, 9 June 2012

“All Through The City (With Wilko 1974-1977)” by DR. FEELGOOD (2012 EMI 3CD/1DVD Book Set - Peter Mew Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...All Your Lovin'...Thrills Me So..."  

Frankly (Frank) - "All Through The City" by Canvey Island's finest Pub Rockers is a bit of a box set barnstormer. Covering the Wilko Johnson/Lee Brilleaux/John Sparks/Big Figure years - it features 4 full album's worth and a large haul of previously unreleased studio outtakes and live cuts from the time. There's even a lengthy DVD that (in itself) would make a superb stand-alone release. And it's just dropped in price too to below £15!. Here are the finite details...

Released 16 April 2012 in the UK - and taking its title from a track on their debut LP - "All Through The City (With Wilko 1974-1977)" by DR. FEELGOOD is a 3CD + 1DVD box set on EMI 5099955980524 (Barcode 5099955980524) and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (79:11 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 13 are their debut album "Down By The Jetty" - released in the UK in January 1975 on United Artists UAS 29717
Tracks 14 to 24 are their 2nd album "Malpractice" - released in the UK in October 1975 on United Artists UAS 29880

Disc 2 (73:27 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 13 are their 3rd album - the live set "Stupidity" - released in the UK in September 1976 on United Artists UAS 29990
Tracks 14 to 23 are their 4th album "Sneakin' Suspicion" (and last with original guitarist Wilko Johnson) - released in the UK in May 1977 on United Artists UAS 30075

Disc 3 (72:41 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 13 and 18 to 20 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
Track 14 is "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" and is the non-album B-side of their 1st UK 7" single "Roxette" released November 1974 on United Artists UP 35760
Tracks 15, 16 and 17 are "I'm A Hog For You Baby", "Stupidity" and "She Said Alright" and are all album outtakes from the "Down By The Jetty" sessions.
They were first issued on the May 2006 2CD 'Collector's Edition' of "Down By The Jetty"
Track 21 is "Keep It Out Of Sight (Live)" and is a non-album B-side of their 4th UK 7" single "Roxette (Live)" released October 1976 on United Artists UP 36171
Original copies of the live set "Stupidity" came with a free collector's 7" single [FEEL 1] - two extra live tracks - "Riot In Cell Block No.9" b/w "Johnny B. Goode".
They are Tracks 22 and 23 on Disc 3.

Even though the catalogue number for "Down By The Jetty" uses the UA code for Stereo (UAS) - the album was famously recorded and released in MONO - and that MONO remaster is what's included on this box set (the 2006 version). The 'STEREO' mix is on the 2CD "Down By The Jetty - Collector's Edition" released in June 2006 - both versions remastered like this box set by PETER MEW at Abbey Road Studios.

Track 13 on Disc 1 is a duo of cover versions "Bonie Moronie/Tequila" and was recorded live in London's Dingwalls in July 1974. Six more tracks from that concert are on Disc 2 of the 'Collector's Edition' of "Down By The Jetty" and are NOT on this box set.

"Malpractice", "Stupidity" and "Sneakin' Suspicion" have all been available before on CD on Grand Records in the Nineties - but this 2012 box set offers properly remastered versions of them for the first time.

Wilko Johnson had always adored Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and especially their guitar player Mick Green - and tucked away on the B-side of their 1964 hit "Always & Forever" on HMV Records POP 1269 was an obscure cover version of a Piano Red song from 1962 on Okeh Records called "Doctor Feelgood" (Red's group was actually called Dr. Feelgood & The Interns). Wilko chose this apt name for his new rockin' band from Canvey Island in Essex - and a kick ass British Rhythm 'n' Blues legend was born. I mention all of this because the single is pictured on Page 3 of the superb booklet centered in the hardback pack - along with interviews with Wilko (December 2011), liner notes by HUGO WILLIAMS, discography details that picture the albums, comic book strips, trade adverts, 7" singles on United Artists, NME and Melody Maker reviews and all the usual memorabilia associated with a retrospective like this.

A very, very smart move is the inclusion of a non-region-coded 23-track DVD (22 songs and 1 interview). Recorded in England (20 cuts from 1974) and Finland (2 cuts from 1975) - the Concert/TV appearances show the full-on thrill of a Dr. Feelgood live show in their prime. They were little short of sensational and regularly annihilated most other bands in their path. Their manic no-nonsense fast and furious songs were also beloved by Rock 'n' Rollers and even pre-dated Punk by two years. I can't stress enough how the DVD adds so much to the 3CDs of rocking mania - remastered to perfection by PETER MEW at Abbey Road.

I know people rave about the debut with "She Does It Right", "Roxette" and so many more (and quite rightly so)  - but for me the follow-up "Malpractice" is the absolute balls too. I wore out the 2nd track "Going Back Home" on my original vinyl copy. Co-written with Wilko's guitar hero and mentor Mick Green - it has the most fantastic Lee Brilleaux harmonica solo. I also love the Bo Diddley cover "I Can Tell" and their menacing version of Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step". Original gems include "Another Man", the sleazy "Don't Let Your Daddy Know" and the chugging "Because You're Mine" (co-written with Big Figure and Nick Lowe). The remastered sound too - what a punch. Love it...

It all came to a frenzied head on the live "Stupidity" set when the British public feel completely for their charms and put it on the Number 1 spot in October 1976. Again - I'd forgotten how good it is - frantic - urgent - "Walking The Dog" and "I'm A Hog For You Baby" sounding so exciting and huge. Following that pinnacle was always going to be difficult and I remember at the time 1977's "Sneakin' Suspicion" was met with disappointment - like the band was threading water - and their sound was now limiting instead of being fresh. But relistening to the cracking title track (the only single off the album), "Walking On The Edge" and especially what should have been the follow up single "Paradise" (all Wilko originals) - they're fantastic (lyrics above). I also so dig their take on the Eddie Fontaine hit "Nothing Shaking (But The Leaves On The Trees)" with Lee's harmonica tearing through your speakers. The Lew Lewis cover "Lucky Seven" and the Willie Dixon/Howlin' Wolf take on "You'll Be Mine" are great fun too.

I had expected the unreleased stuff on Disc 3 to be workmanlike - and some of it is - but there are shockingly good studio outtakes that will get fans animated in the trouser area. It opens with a rough and ready take on Piano Red's "Dr. Feelgood" which is very good - but it ups a whole different notch with "Everybody's Carrying A Gun", "I'm A Hog For You Baby" and "Time And The Devil" studio recordings from January and August 1976. They're brill. Less successful is a weedy demo of "Sneakin' Suspicion" and a limp instrumental called "Malamut" which features Mick Green on guitar. Better by far is a cover of Alvin Johnson's "Casting My Spell On You" which is pure Wilko Feelgoods - it's brilliant. The crudely recorded cover of Chuck Berry's "I'm Talking About You" is good too with a great chucking beat and again they hit you with another nugget - a properly rocking version of "My Girl Josephine" by Fats Domino. The live stuff is very much in the vein of "Stupidity". Very tasty indeed...

To sum up - I've loved working through this sonic blast - this memory fest - and now at a bargain price of twenty-eight pounds new - it's time to don the sharp suit music lovers and do the leg-splits boogie. In fact mention Dr. Feelgood to those who saw the band in their prime and a manic grin will fill their wrinkled visage that no cigarette-smoking scalpel-wielding surgeon will be able to remove.

On a more personal note - I once glimpsed Lee Brilleaux in 1989 clacking his way down Berwick Street in his steel-heeled leather shoes - looking like a cross between Arthur Daley and a man ready to blow a demonically possessed harmonica no matter what the cost. I wished I'd stopped him, shook his hand and just said thanks. Well this is for you Lee - Wilko - and all the boys in the band.

Bootiful my son...

PS: see also my review of "Taking No Prisoners - The Gypie Mayo Years" 5CD/1DVD Dr. Feelgood box set

No comments:

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc