ARTIST: Dr. Feelgood
YEAR RELEASED: 1976
CHART ACTION: #1 UK
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The covered some rock and R&B classics as well as their originals (which you only know if you were in the UK at the time, really).
LINEUP: Lee Brilleaux, Wilko Johnson, John Sparks, The Big Figure
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Live album from rootsy pub rockers / punk inspirations rockets to #1 in the UK – confirming their appetite for unadorned rock and roll.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Someone called them the “John the Baptists” of the UK punk rock movement. Yeah, that’s about right. While it’s not punk rock – they write in a traditional rock vein – it is just guitar, bass, drum and vocal. No fancy suspended diminished seventh minor chords or fuguin’ fugues. It’s rock and roll, man. Rock and roll.
After just two studio records, the Feelgood’s released this live record as their live shows were where magic happened. While you don’t get the visual of these guys sweating up a storm while performing, you do get to hear them and the crowd reactions. It’s akin to the crowd at Five Live Yardbirds. Wilko Johnson’s the star – his guitar controls the songs and the fans.
They cover Chuck Berry, Rufus Thomas, Sonny Boy Williamson, the Coasters and Rufus Thomas and make them sound like their originals – which are darn good too.
We here in the US only really know them if one wants to research punk rock and its UK precursors (like pub rock and glam). I do think there definitely was a niche for them here, but it’s kind of late now. Well, no it isn’t. Just take a listen.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: You can’t stream it separately but it’s easy to pick out the album from their box set (all of their stuff with Wilko is there) and sequence them. I’m not adding it to Missing in Action since it’s kind of obscure AND it’s available fairly easily.
Also, this was the first UK album to enter the charts at #1 during the week of its release, and it stayed there for nine weeks.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: They originally released a special 45 of “Riot in Cell Block #9” backed with “Johnny B. Goode” on vinyl, but only re-released it in the box set.
GRADE: A: It’s a fun rock-and-roll live record. I’d recommend putting it together and giving it a listen or ten.