wed 24/07/2024

CD: Wilko Johnson/ Roger Daltrey - Going Back Home | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Wilko Johnson/ Roger Daltrey - Going Back Home

CD: Wilko Johnson/ Roger Daltrey - Going Back Home

Ex-Dr Feelgood legend bows out with alternative readings from his back catalogue

Wilko and Roger or should that be Doctor Who?

Talk about not going gentle into that good night. In the year or so since Wilko Johnson announced he had terminal cancer, he has stunned doctors and fans alike by giving a string of blistering concerts and candid interviews. But Going Back Home - a retrospective LP featuring Roger Daltrey on vocals – is, surely, his final parting shot. It's also an ambition fulfilled.

For the two men have long admired each other and Daltrey remarked in a recent interview how they were inspired by the same American R’n’B.

Johnson then chipped in, “Don’t matter how hard you try, you can’t sound like you’re from Chicago when you grew up on Canvey Island”. His observation goes right to the heart of how you are likely to feel about this album. Daltrey’s huge voice, you see, does almost sound like he’s from Chicago. It’s certainly a million miles from the stale tobacco and India Pale Ale mood of the originals. And, for those still in love with the old Essex-blues feel, it may just be too forceful.

Those unprejudiced by the first versions, however, may listen with more patience.  If you hadn’t heard Johnson’s cracked tones on the original “Turned 21” you would surely be taken by the tender, sad melody here. You would also be impressed how “Sneakin’ Suspicion” swaggers - especially the guitar playing which is still as choppy and precise as ever; sonically staring and jerking just like Johnson would do on stage.

All in, this is a solid epitaph to one of rock’s most eccentric and unsung careers. Of course, when Johnson does finally leave us fans may prefer to remember him with the original versions. But in these days of music streaming and recommended playlists it is heartening to feel a whole new audience may discover his music through Daltrey’s interpretations.

Overleaf: watch Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey's video for "I Keep It to Myself"


Daltrey’s huge voice is a million miles from the stale tobacco and India Pale Ale mood of the originals


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Amazing performer who seems to play lead and rhythm in sequence as his struts maniacally around the stage. Memories of being 'shot' by Wilco as he singles out audience members with his trademark, targeted riff that fans dutifully collapse backwards from in the tight-packed arena of the Half Moon or the Cricketers. Surely one of the most unsung talents of his era.

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