Album Released on Chess Records March 24 Internationally
Wilko Johnson, legendary guitarist with Canvey Island pub rock pioneers Dr Feelgood, and Roger Daltrey, lead singer of rock giants The Who are to release a joint album Going Back Home on March 24 internationally on the world famous Chess label which has been revived especially for the purpose. The album will be released in the US on April 8 via UMe.
UMC & UMGI staff joined the pair at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on February 25 which was packed to capacity for the debut performance of Going Back Home.
The album features eleven tracks, ten of which are Wilko originals from both his Dr Feelgood days and solo years, whilst the sole cover on the album is a version of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited classic “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window”.
The album’s roots began in 2010 when Roger and Wilko found themselves sitting together at an awards ceremony talking about raucous old school British rhythm & blues. “It turned out we both loved Johnny Kidd & The Pirates,” says Roger, name-checking the turn-of-‘60s creators of “Shakin’ All Over” and “Please Don’t Touch”. “They’d been a big influence on both our bands. That heavy power trio sound, backing up a singer; it’s a British institution. No-one does that better than us.”
They decided on the spot it would be a great idea to collaborate together on an album but both being busy men, the idea drifted away.
Then in January 2013 Wilko was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told he had just months to live. The guitarist riding high after Julien Temple’s acclaimed Dr Feelgood documentary Oil City Confidential – seized upon the opportunity to make the most of his time left.
When The Who finished a sold-out world tour, Daltrey was delighted to discover that, mercifully, Wilko was still well enough to fulfil their ambition of making an album together. “Roger jumped up and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” says Johnson. “He knew this lovely little studio called Yellow Fish in Uckfield. Unfortunate name for a place, but a great studio.”
The album was recorded in November 2013 in just a week, using Wilko’s touring band featuring Blockheads bassist Norman Watt-Roy and drummer Dylan Howe, with ex-Style Council and Dexy’s keyboardist Mick Talbot also guesting. Wilko credits the producer, Dave Eringa, with pulling it all together in such a short time. “Everyone got on famously,” says Johnson, “it was a great atmosphere.”
The album mostly features re-makes of vintage Wilko gems, including the Feelgoods’ “All Through The City”, “Keep It Out Of Sight” and “Going Back Home” plus “Everybody’s Carrying A Gun”, originally recorded by his post-Feelgoods group The Solid Senders, and the solo 80s rockers “Ice On The Motorway” and “I’m Going To Keep It To Myself”. There is also a hidden gem, the heart-wrenching ballad “Turned 21”, which has never been properly released or performed live.
For Wilko, who has faced down his cancer with admirable good humour and steely courage, Going Back Home represents a dream fulfilled at the end of his life. “I’ve had a brilliant year,” he says. “I was meant to die in October and now I’ve recorded this with Roger. I can’t keep gushing, but I saw The Who in 1969 when I was at university. He’s a star to me.”
“I’m very proud of this album,” adds Daltrey who is donating his royalties from the album to a Teen Cancer charity “So much music today is over polished. This record has a freshness that can only come from the pressures we’re under.”
“You mean me dying?” Johnson laughs “Yes,” says Roger. “Because of that inconsiderate lump inside you. Who the hell does it think it is?!