Sunday, 16 May 2010

Confidential thoughts

I finally caught up with Julian Temple’s excellent Dr Feelgood documentary, Oil City Confidential, the other night. A few thoughts that arose while I was watching it:
  • That Wilko Johnson is a bit odd, isn’t he?
  • The songs I knew Dr Feelgood for - the chart hits like ‘Milk and alcohol’ and ‘Down at the doctors’ – were actually recorded after Wilko left the band. I never realised that
  • Dr Feelgood were to the early 70s what The Yardbirds were to the early 60s: a shot in the arm for British blues, a shot of pure adrenaline. I wish I’d seen them live at their peak, but it was before my time
  • Did I mention that Wilko Johnson really is quite odd?
  • It’s also odd that no one really followed the Feelgoods’ lead. The accepted wisdom is that the energy and on-stage aggression of the band was a major influence on punk, but I’m not aware of any blues bands who picked up the baton and ran with it. Maybe it’s just that punk was so all-pervading that any potential new young blues bands went down that path instead
Talking about the Feelgoods also gives me a chance to repeat one of my favourite pieces of trivia: that every member of the band had the same name. Bassist John B. Sparkes kept his, drummer John Martin became The Big Figure, guitarist John Wilkinson became Wilko Johnson, and singer Lee Brilleaux’s real name was Lee John Collinson. What’s more, when Wilko left the band, he was replaced by Gypie Mayo, whose real first name was (guess what?) John, and he in turn was replaced by Johnny Guitar. He was eventually replaced by someone called Gordon, and that’s when the rot set in.

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