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25th YEARS OF DR FEELGOOD
THE ANNIVERSARY ALBUM
YEARS OF DR FEELGOOD
is a double CD including the following songs:
She Does It Right / I Don't Mind / All Through The City / Keep It Out Of Sight / Roxette / I Can Tell / Sneakin' Suspicion / Back In The Night / Going Back Home / Riot In Cell Block No.9 / She's A Wind Up / That's It, I Quit / Night Time / Milk And Alcohol / Put Him Out Of Your Mind / Shotgun Blues / No Mo Do Yakamo / Jumping From Love To Love / Violent Love / Rat Race / Crazy 'Bout Girls / Dangerous / Mad Man Blues / Dimples / Hunting Shooting Fishing / See You Later Alligator / King For A Day / Baby Jane / Sugar Turns To Alcohol / Down By The Jetty Blues / Double Crossed / Wolfman Callin' / One Step Forward / Roadrunner / Down At The Doctors / Heart Of The City / World Keeps Turning / Instinct To Survive / Going Out West / You Got Me
by Kevin Morris
Text of the cd booklet:
By Christopher Somerville
It begins and ends with Canvey.
The River Thames pushes a muddy tide up on the island twice a day.
A salty wind blows among the cranky wooden pre-war shops and smoky pubs.
Travellers shaggy ponies crop the flat meadows in the shadow of oil storage depots.
On the southern shore giant tankers loom at the sea wall; on the north side are wild marshes where kids go boating among the oystercatchers and redshank in Benfleet Creek, as Lee Brilleaux and Chris Fenwick used to do when they were boys running free on Canvey.
Think of Canvey and you think of hard work and humour, of a matter-of-fact toughness and resilience, a get-on-with-the-job approach; and of an attitude to life that says:
Let's make the most of it.
Dr Feelgood could have sprung from nowhere else.
Think of Dr Feelgood, and you think of Lee Brilleaux.
The word 'charismatic' is shiny from rubbing off on Lee.
This was a man who could stride on to a stage in any town, anywhere in the world, confront a cold crowd of strangers, and within ten minutes have them on the point of his commandingly wagging finger. Backstage he could coax a surly promoter, make time for a tounge-tied fan, and have his fellow Feelgoods falling about laughing at his antics; or he would wind himself into the Telegraph crossword, or into conversations with locals as he ferreted out sight worth seeing, restaurants worth checking. He could shoot the breeze and act the goat like any R&B hero worth his salt, but Lee never stopped thinking and reading, never lost his appetite for adventure and discovery throughout his twenty years on the road with Dr Feelgood. He took trouble with people, too, and never lost sight of where he had come from.
When he was asked to take part, unpaid, in a little TV film about Canvey Island, he turned up early in the morning in his sharpest suit and gave a funny, insightful interview - although he'd been celebrating his birthday the night before with 'a few bottles of wine, mate', and was booked to catch a flight to Germany within a couple of hours.
The Feelgood ethic, on stage and off, was hard work, hard play and no ego nonsense, Lee was known and his company sought all over the world; but it was always to his childhood friend, Dr Feelgood manager Chris Fenwick, that he looked for the band, solidly rooted in that unpretentious Canvey soil.
When Lee Brilleaux died of lymphoma in April 1994, it looked as if the Dr Feelgood saga was at an end. The singer had been so much to the public face of the band. Ever since the stage -strutting Wilko Johnson packed his guitar and left the Feelgood camp in 1977, attention had been focused on the man in the middle, his unique throaty growl of a voice - like straining gin through gravel - his wild harmonica phrasing and his supreme showmanship. Chris Fenwick, who had been there from before the very beginning, turned away in shock and grief. The band broke up, and we - the Feelgood fans, the blur of faces on the club floor, the recipients of mail order discs and occasional bulletins from the Mount Olympus of Canvey Island, Grand Records - we, too, thought it was all over. Who could ever step into Brilleaux's hand-stiched brogues?
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But Dr Feelgood obstinately refused to lie down. There had been bad times in the past when the fat lady had looked to be about to sing, but had been silenced by the Canvey approach: roll up the sleeves, cut back to basics, start all over again from the baseline of hard work in small clubs for not much money, a building up from scratch once more. This time, though, there would be no Lee to carry the attack.
There was still the Feelgood songbook, however, that bulging file of short sharp shocks - 'Roxette', 'Back In The Night', 'Down At The Doctor's', 'Milk & Alcohol', 'Crazy 'Bout Girls', 'Double Crossed' and several dozen more - cooked up by Wilko, by Gypie Mayo, Johnny Guitar (Note by Gabi: I'm in personal need to add Gordon Russell namely to this list cause he also wrote some great songs for Dr Feelgood and in my eyes more was a 'true Feelgood' as Johnny Guitar - sorry, it's just my personal opinion. - Gabi.), Steve Walwyn and other Feelgoods past and present, and administered to the public over the course of a quarter of a century by the Doctor himself. And there was the legend, or more accurately the hard-won reputation, of the grippingly exciting live show associated with the name of Dr Feelgood.
The phone calls, faxes and entreaties to Chris Fenwick, and to the band's hard working secretary Ann Adley in the Feelgood office on Canvey Island, did not dry up during the year following Lee's death. There was obviously still a core of fans and a network of canny promoters out there, willing the band back on its feet again. Feelgood guitarist Steve Walwyn and drummer Kevin Morris declared themselves ready and willing; bass player Dave Bronze had been snapped up by Eric Clapton and the recording industry, but Phil Mitchell - a former Feelgood - was available to step in. But who could fill that all-important gap, centre stage?
When Kevin Morris stumbled across blues singer and harmonica player Pete Gage, the four corners of a Feelgood touring outfit were in place once more. Here was a lean and mean front man with a well seasoned gin-and-gravel voice of his own, a hunger to grasp his opportunity, a healthy respect for the no-nonsense Feelgood approach to R&B and life in general, and the courage to present himself night after night for inspection and judgement by critical fans raised on Brilleaux-era Feelgood.
Comparison was inevitable from the moment Dr Feelgood went back on the road in 1995. Inevitable, but irrelevant. Bands change and mutate. Those fit enough can survive the most radical internal surgery. 'It's like a miracle,' enthused a Swizz fan as we watched a wired-up and sweat-soaked Pete Gage, like a pressure-cooker at full steam, stamp and howl his way through Steve Walwyn's 'Instinct To Survive' in front of a dancing crowd in Berne. 'Just the same exitement I remember! Fantastic!'
And the song's chorus, belted out by Gage at full throttle, rammed home the down-to-earth Feelgood attitude to both their glorious past and their looked-for future:
'If you want to keep yourself alive - You'd better use all your instinct to survive.'
(Copyright by Christopher Somerville 1997. Published here with friendly permission.)
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By Gabi Schwanke (Official Dr Feelgood Website)
A review of the maker of the Feelgoods own website? Surely this can only be praise, many of you will probably say. Well, as many of you know I am not just a fan but also a friend of the Feelgoods, a special situation I'm definitely thankful for, but also one which isn't easy at any time. All my love and life belongs to Dr Feelgood - just have a look at this website... a proof of my friendship and thankfulness, I hope.
But my definition of the word 'friend' also means to be honest to the ones I love, any time. Even if it is not easy and maybe will hurt - I think, nothing hurts more as to find out a friend told you a lie on purpose.
So what do I think about the latest release from Grand Records?
As a dedicated fan who owns lots of stuff the Feelgoods have produced over all the years on several types of media - vinyl, tapes, cds, videos - I was disappointed that the eagerly awaited Anniversary album came out as a compilation of songs I already got, many of them on several editions. So after the first look at the songlist and an - unsuccessful - check for maybe rare recordings, I said to myself, 'well the cover design looks really great, and the text of the booklet is also interesting to read - even for someone like me, who regularly visits Canvey Island and knows how it is... One more item to add to my collection.' But, as already said, being a bit disappointed - until...
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...some day I took both cds into my car stereo to listen to them on a long drive. I switched on the first cd with the feeling of knowing what's to expect (the best British R'n'B, of course, but also nothing new for my ears) when unexpectedly I was smashed back into my seat! Wow, what a sound!!! Was there something wrong with my ears all the years? This brilliant clarity, dynamics and power I never had recognized when listening to the songs at the regular album releases.
It's right, there's not a single song on the cds I don't know note by note, but never before have I heard them in such fantastic quality. Sometimes there were details I'd never recognized earlier, like some harmonica licks, percussions and such stuff. Especially the songs featuring Gypie really knocked me out off my shoes. The further into the Anniversary cds I heard, the more I was jumping on my seat and tapping my (left) foot. No need to mention me was singing along to the songs with all voice available! If I had to stop the car in a traffic jam, I've done it in the tact of the song which was running at that time - The other drivers must have been sure there's a maniac woman in the car... But who cares - as long as my favourite bands songs play (and with such a sound) - I must be dead not to start to bounce around!
Also, in opposite to the - no question - fantastic 5-CDs Box of EMI which I think includes kind of 'seperated' compilations of the different line-ups/eras (with the exception of the special 5th cd with its interviews and rare tracks), '25 Years Of Dr Feelgood' more shows the unit of Dr Feelgood. One song leads to the next, step by step from the past into the future. Do you know what I mean? To me it's like that circle of shaking hands on some of the English 50p coins: The hands belong to different people, none of them touches every single of the others, but in the end they all are needed to complete the circle to make it work. That's my (personal) philosophy of Dr Feelgood - it would never be Dr Feelgood like it is, if there wouldn't have played/play musicians who gave/are giving their best, and add(ed) the stamp of their personality to the band. This way made/makes the musical worth of the band growing higher and higher. This compilation is an acoustic version of my Feelgood philosophy, more as any other compilation because it hasn't got that hard breaks/frontiers in between the changes in the line-ups as like they are to hear on other Dr Feelgood compilations. But, as already mentioned, that's just my personal feelings.
Feel free to think whatever you want about this review, you're right, it's just another compilation, but I like the songs Kevin compiled and both cds will stay a fantastic companion on thousands of kilometers/miles I have to travel in the future, that's for sure.
Maybe I should also mention there is no special loudspeakers or equipment in my car, it's the original ones which came with the car... Also I wasn't on drugs! Honestly. But again I learned the best drug to be addicted to is DR FEELGOOD!
By WILL BIRCH - MOJO Magazine June 1997
40 tracks encompassing seven line-ups over a quarter century.
Every great Feelgood track is here. The early years ooze excitement, the middle period evinces maturity, and the latter years continue to fly the R&B flag with panache.
The collection is, of course, dominated by the commanding presence of Lee Brilleaux who, during his final days, could still shout 'Down! At! The! Doctors!' with real menace.
Many fans feel that the original quarter (Brilleaux, Wilko, Sparko, the Figure) was Dr Feelgood and that the plot was lost following Wilko's departure almost 20 years ago. Admittedly it was the classic line-up, but the group went on to further success with Gypie Mayo, and tours to this day under the managerial eye of Chris Fenwick.
A chap named Pete Gage now occuples centre stage and, it has been said, he carries the ghost of Lee Brilleaux with great dignity. In fact, listening to this astute compilation, it's evident that the Dr Feelgood ideal - R&B, fast and hard - is a spirit more than any particular set of musicians. With such a compelling catalogue, it has every right to continue.
probably by Will Birch / MOJO Magazine UK 1997)
date for the Anniversary double CD was 5th of May 1997.
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info of the cd in
THE NEWS area: Newsletters section - Newsletter Issue 7/April 1997.
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