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Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey - Going Back Home Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 04.08.2014



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Wilko Johnson & Roger DaltreyGoing Back Home


Track listing:
1. Going Back Home
2. Ice On the Motorway
3. I Keep It To Myself
4. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window
5. Turned 21
6. Keep On Loving You
7. Some Kind of Hero
8. Sneaking Suspicion
9. Keep It Out Of Sight
10. Everyone's Carrying a Gun
11. All Through the City
Running time: 34:50

Wilko Johnson is an absolute legend. When Johnson broke the news last year that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, it was met with great sadness. The guy is a pioneer and an important figure in British music history. Perhaps Paul Weller said it best when he argued that Johnson was “right up there.” Weller argued that despite not having the fame of other iconic guitarists, Johnson would be leaving behind “some legacy.” But it's a legacy that Wilko continues to write. Not only is the guy still touring, he's also finding precious time to put out new material. His latest project is a collaboration with Roger Daltrey, who you may recognise as the founder and the voice of some rock band called The Who. Thankfully these two managed to find the time to get together for one week last year and put together Going Back Home, an album that features re-workings of Johnson's most beloved tracks from the Dr. Feelgood era.

Like the album itself, clocking in at barely half an hour, I'm going to keep my thoughts on this record short and sweet because it's exactly what you would expect from a record by Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey. Going Back Home is a sleek yet tremendously gritty revisiting of some classic songs. There's nothing particularly unexpected here, outside of a slick cover of Bob Dylan's “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window” and a more morose vocal on the melancholy “Turned 21.” Those familiar with the original takes might find Daltrey's gnarly vocal somewhat jarring in comparisons to Johnson's original throaty croon, but Daltrey's voice is one that delivers each and every syllable with a fierce gusto that really brings these classics to life. Wilko's slicing guitar delivers riffs with a precision and daring that truly rolls back the years and takes you to the smokey Railway Hotel pub in Southend that features Johnson's portrait above the door.

Johnson's former Blockheads rhythm section of drummer Dylan Howe and Norman Watt-Roy join the fun here for what is a jangling, hearty 35-minute homage to the American R&B stylings that both Johnson and Daltrey fell in love with decades and decades ago. It's a mutual love for the genre that made their pairing such an ideal one and as Johnson continues to miraculously perform to such a high standard even in his final months, one can't help but force a smile at the idea that Going Back Home is one thing Johnson can cross off of his bucket list. And indeed if Going Back Home is the album that finally brings the curtain down on one of the most underrated careers in British music history, than it's one last hurrah that will likely appease long-time fans and introduce a whole bunch of new ones to the sounds of Wilko Johnson's searching guitar licks for the very first time.

No one would forgive Wilko Johnson for throwing in the towel and living whatever remains of his life in peace surrounded by friends and family, but it's a tribute to him and his music that he's still able to put out records like this. Neither Johnson nor Daltrey hold anything back and quite rightly so because time is of the essence. There's nothing subtle about the choppy guitars and piercing harmonicas that make this such a fun and nostalgic trip down memory lane. The legendary duo tackle these bluesy numbers as if there's no tomorrow because there may not be. And if this is to be Johnson's swansong then there's no disputing that the man is determined to go out with a band and not a whimper. The swagger of cuts like “Sneaking Suspicion” showcase a man that is more than happy with his life's work, but that doesn't mean there isn't time to add to it.



Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey - “I Keep It To Myself”


The 411: No one would forgive Wilko Johnson for throwing in the towel and living whatever remains of his life in peace surrounded by friends and family, but it's a tribute to him and his music that he's still able to put out records like this. Neither Johnson nor Daltrey hold anything back and quite rightly so because time is of the essence. There's nothing subtle about the choppy guitars and piercing harmonicas that make this such a fun and nostalgic trip down memory lane. The legendary duo tackle these bluesy numbers as if there's no tomorrow because there may not be. And if this is to be Johnson's swansong then there's no disputing that the man is determined to go out with a band and not a whimper. The swagger of cuts like “Sneaking Suspicion” showcase a man that is more than happy with his life's work, but that doesn't mean there isn't time to add to it.
 
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend





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