Tuesday, April 22, 2014
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: WILKO JOHNSON/ROGER DALTRY - GOING BACK HOME
Then last year, it was announced Johnson had terminal cancer, and with a stiff upper lip and a mix of toughness and humour, he went about doing interviews, playing final shows, and living his last days to their fullest. Roger Daltry felt some affinity, shared R'n'B roots and working class upbringing with Johnson, they'd talked about recording together in the past, but with the cancer news, Daltry stepped up to the mike to record this quickly with Johnson and his band. It's eleven songs, under forty minutes, all written by Johnson over the course of his career, except a cover of Bob Dylan's Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window. It landed in the Top Five in the British charts, so it's already the biggest hit for either in years.
All of this is fine, and good for both of them. But I'm not going to hype the disc, it's a bit of a routine run-through of mostly basic and middling songs. Even the numbers from Feelgood's glory days (Going Back Home, Keep It Out Of Sight) have little to raise them above the sound of a million blues bar bands. It's all the same; Wilko's slashing chords up front, bass loud, piano, organ and harmonica chiming in. Daltry has lost a bit of range in the last few years, and substitutes some growling for nuance. Only the jovial boogie of All Through The City livens things up, and that is saved for the last track. See, it has a memorable lyric and hook: "I've been searching all through the city, see you in the morning down by the jetty." Like most beloved British characters, Johnson is better known for being himself than for a great body of work.