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Snippets of FEELIN' GOOD Issue 15/April 1999
Published with friendly permission of editor John Butterfield.
It was 5 years ago, on April 7th 1994, that Lee Brilleaux died, Dr. Feelgood were not playing together and so the Dr. Feelgood Information Service came to an end. In 1995 Dr. Feelgood re-emerged with Pete Gage, and I was asked to open the surgery doors of the Info Service once more. I have since spoken to many fans after gigs, and received letters with some commenting that, "it isn't the same without Lee!". A comment I agree with, but we have got to realise and accept, that Lee had such a strong presence, both on and off stage, that any comparisons with Pete and Lee would be unfair. Pete is not Lee, and does not try to be like him. None of us will ever forget Lee, and he is remembered by the musicians and fans at every gig, but the special night when this remembrance is formalised, is on the 10th of June, with the Lee Brilleaux Birthday Memorial concert taking place on Canvey Island. I, as always will be there, and more than happy to share a drink or two with anyone who approaches me. It's always nice to meet people who have written to me for years, but never met in person. Last year we had a special Canvey tour (more about it on a later page), and whilst there are no plans at present to repeat it, no doubt Gabi and myself will be pleased to assist in some shape or form. This Issue (Number 15 - where are the years going?) has several pages with a Memorial theme, such as "The Feelgood Area", "Route 66" and their tribute to Lee "White Boy In Town Tonight" etc. Thanks go as usual to anyone who has contributed to this issue, or sent stuff in for future ones - the Information Service needs YOUR help in producing different views of Dr. Feelgood, past or present. Remember - it is YOUR service, so all contributions welcome. Thanks also to the people who have sent me copies of interviews with the Roadrunner, but I still need more, so the plea still stands. Apologies on behalf of Johnny Green, who has already reneged on his promise of articles. Listen to this for an excuse: he reckons that whilst on the road, he is too busy to write, and when he is not on the road, he claims to be preparing for the next tour by drinking, eating and socialising. Don't worry, I have plans to put him in check!! In the meantime - buy the new CD, get a ticket for the Memorial before it sells out, and as always
on Feeling Good
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THAT'S IT I QUIT
Activity in the Dr. Feelgood camp has reached fever pitch recently, with the news of drummer Kevin Morris leaving the crew after 16 years due to musical differences. His place is to be filled by a 35 years old unknown from Nottingham, called Steve Smith - when asked about his appointment to the group, Steve said, and I quote, "About bloody time they had a decent drummer in the group". Steve's first gig with the band will be at Royal British Legion, Beeston, on 7th July 1999, admission 50p.
The new Dr. Feelgood line up will be recording tracks soon in Compass Point Studios, Barbados, for at least six months, so not many gigs in the upcoming month!
ON THE ROAD 1999
July 7th - Beeston, British Legion
July 8th - London, Wembley Stadium
July 9th - New York, Madison Square Garden
July 10th - Moscow, The Kremlin Club
July 11th - Sydney, Opera House
July 12th - Skelmersdale, The Garden Shed
NO GIGS IN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER DUE TO RECORDING - HOWEVER, ANYBODY WISHING TO VISIT THE STUDIOS (ESPECIALLY BUXOM BLONDES (FEMALE)) ARE WELCOME.
This article could also be called (April) Fool For You.
LIVE AT THE BBC (1974-75)
The latest Feelgood offering is by special request, a compilation of rare tracks of Dr. Feelgood live at the Paris Theatre, London - recorded by the BBC for the "In Concert" radio series. It features 21 tracks, and the original line up of Lee Brilleaux (vocals/harp/slide guitar), Wilko Johnson (guitar/vocals), John B Sparks (bass), with the Big Figure providing the beat on the drums. Some of the songs have never appeared on an official CD release, so it is worth adding to anyone's collection. The release date is scheduled for May 1999, and will sell at £13.50 (U.K.), £16.50 (Europe), £17 50 (Rest of the World) inc. P&P, from Grand Records. (Note by Gabi: Please check out the ORDER SHOP page for actual price and ordering info!)
The first 5 tracks were recorded on 25th March 1974, opening with a rare version of "My Baby Your Baby" the old R&B standard, but arranged by Wilko. The opening riff sounds like "Everybody's Carrying A Gun" until Lee starts singing with Wilko backing him until the chorus when Wilko and Lee sing a line each. The guitar solo is typical Wilko style of that era, short and sweet, like the song at under 3 minutes. No messing but straight into Chuck Berry's "I'm Talking About You" a much better recording than the version on the "Stupidity" album. A rare live version of "One Weekend" the Wilko song from "Down By The Jetty" LP. The last two songs, both around the 2 minute mark, before the longest track on the CD at 4 3/4 minutes with Wilko slowing down for "Rock Me Baby" a track never officially released before, featuring Wilko with Lee improvising at his best. Sparko and Figure providing the rhythm rocking along. The second solo actually sounds like Steve Walwyn combined with Gypie, but it is Wilko honestly. Every Feelgood fan has heard their encore of "Bonie Moronie/Tequila" either live, or on "Down By The Jetty" with guests Bob Andrews and Brinsley Schwartz, but here is an opportunity to hear the full version of "Bonie Moronie" with no frills. You expect them to burst into "Tequila", but it doesn't happen, so it gives a chance for Lee to ad lib to the audience. The next 7 tracks were recorded almost a year later on 14th January 1975, and had to feature tracks from the album "Down By The Jetty", so no real surprises as the songs sound practically the same as the studio versions. The first single "She Does It Right", followed by Wilko on vocals for "20 Yards Behind" giving Lee a chance to blow the cobwebs off his harp. "The More I Give" before Wilko takes lead vocals for the John Lee Hooker "Boom Boom". Hooker was an idol of the Feelgoods, which led to "Milk & Alcohol" being composed following their night at a John Lee Hooker gig in America. Track 10, "All Through The City", another Wilko classic which is still played at concerts even now. A rarity with the Feelgoods interpretation of Elmore James "Talk To Me Baby" - a chance for Lee to put his strap on and play slide guitar. There isn't many recordings of Lee on slide, so definitely a must to have a copy of this track. One can almost picture the sweat dripping off his forehead, and beads of concentration during the solo. The last track from this concert has to be the evergreen "Route 66". Dr Feelgood were really in demand in 1975, so were asked back for "In Concert" on 4th September to play with the Kursaal Flyers. I find it an impossible task to review the last 9 tracks, as they are not fresh to me, due to my tape recording of the broadcast, and one that I have played hundreds of times over the years, but here goes. My all time favourite live track (apart from Down By The Jetty Blues), has to be "I Can Tell", and this is a great version with some solid backing from Figure and Sparko, and great growling by Lee with Wilko at his best. Johnny Green gets his first mention in "Going Back Home", before a rare live "Don't You Just Know It". A trio of Wilko tunes, "Roxette", "Another Man" and" Don't Mind" before yet , another live version of "Riot in Cell Block No.9". Lee on slide again for "Rollin' And Tumblin"' before the traditional closer of those days, "You Shouldn't Call The Doctor". A great end to a great CD, which was remastered at Gemini Recording Studio, Ipswich, by Stephen Foster and Pat Grueber. For the trainspotters, the shortest track is "Talking About You" at 1 min. 46 seconds, only 10 tracks are over 3 minutes long, the rest are either under 2 or under 3 minutes.
Members of the Dr. Feelgood Information Service, are being offered the chance to receive an early copy as soon as pressed, prior to the official release date. To take advantage of this offer, mention the Information Service when ordering - so get writing the cheques to Grand Records, 107a High Street, Canvey lsland, Essex SS8 7RF - NOW!
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THE FEELGOOD AERA
On 12th June 1998, the morning after the 5th Lee Brilleaux Memorial, a special tour took place - not the magical mystery tour, but a coach full of people of different nationalities all with one thing in common - lovers of the finest R & B band in the land - Dr. Feelgood. The tour had to commence at a reasonable time, following a heavy night of drinking, so the tour had to be restricted to the sites on Canvey Island, but Gabi, who is a regular visitor to Canvey, has suggested a Feelgood sightseeing tour which covers what she terms "The Feelgood Area". More details on this appear in the "Treasure Box" section of the excellent web site Gabi operates, but here follows a report of the above tour, plus some added suggestions by Gabi. (Note by Gabi: The "Treasure Box" became split into other sections after I redesigned this website. Please check out the Canvey Island page in the History section.)
The Feelgood Area takes in Canvey Island (no need to give a reason), Leigh on Sea (Lee and Chris lived there, Kevin still does), Old Leigh, Westcliff and Southend. All are very close together - check out Gabi's map. The tour set off late morning, picking everyone up in the Oyster Fleet Hotel car park - well almost everyone. I had difficulty finding Chris, who had checked into the hotel, but did not stay there - instead, offering his room to an unexpected attender at the Memorial. I finally tracked him down at his home, where he promised to meet the tour at the office. The car park itself has an important part in Feelgood history, as the Dr. Feelgood Music Bar was located there before it was demolished in 1995. A plaque above the main entrance relates the information that Lee Brilleaux played his last gigs with Dr. Feelgood there. A chance for the cameras to be used! Our first stop was Grand Records, the office of the Feelgoods, in Canvey Island High Street, but strangers to Grand will have great difficulty finding it, as it is above a bookmakers, but can only be accessed by the rear. Fans on the tour had about 30 minutes to view the various posters, gold & silver discs, the stock room, and the opportunity to pose with the Feelgood Toby Jugs. Chris arrived at the office, and off we went to our first pub stop - the Admiral Jellicoe, mentioned in many of the early press articles, as it used to be the Feelgoods favourite pub when they all lived on the Island. It appeared on the cover of the "Be Seeing You" album. Another drinking stop was the Canvey Club, which was renamed "Alibi Club" for the "Sneakin' Suspicion" sleeve. It had hardly changed over the years, and serves possibly the cheapest pint on the Island. Chris told us the history of the club. The Labworth Cafe overlooking the sea, was a stop off point for Feelgood photos, such as publicity shots for "Be Seeing You". We passed many places, but didn't stop, so Chris educated us fools with his recounts of early Feelgood adventures. One of these important sites was Feelgood House, which used to be the official Feelgood HQ in the 70's. It even had it's own bar, nicknamed "The Cluedo Club", built by Sparko, who I believe may have consumed at least one pint of alcoholic refresh- ment there along with Figure, Lee, Chris and other members of the Feelgood camp. Not too far away can be found the Monico public house. The most famous sleeve photo has to be "Down By The Jetty" which was taken on the seawall alongside the Lobster Smack. We then had to end our little tour, but off the Island is the Grand Hotel in Leigh on Sea, where Lee spent many a night, as it is only 10 minutes walk from his home in Hillside Crescent. The Feelgoods have rehearsed there in the upstairs function room. One of Lee's favourite pubs in later days was the Crooked Billet, situated in Old Leigh - not walking distance, so a taxi was the preferred mode of transport. There is a bench dedicated to Lee, on the cliff tops near Seaview Road in Leigh. Despite a lot of mentions about Southend in early press articles, there is not many places to visit, although I suppose a trip to the Kursaal which is now practically derelict, is worthwhile, but sad when you remember what it used to be like - close your eyes and listen to the chants of "Feelgood, Feelgood" and imagine "Stupidity" being recorded there. Check out the web site, as it is subject to change as new ideas are added, and it gives more detailed directions to Canvey etc.
Also in the "Treasure Box" section, there is an interesting article called "The (Feelgood) History of Canvey Island", which is an out take from Susan Whites book "Five Generations" published by The Bookshop, Canvey Island in 1994 (ISBN 0 9520002 02). It contains many details on Dr. Feelgood, and some rare photos and more information on the sites of Canvey (linked or not, with Dr. Feelgood).
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In 1974, I was a 15 year old schoolboy heavily into music, but not really committed to any particular style or direction. I bought the records of that era, which included Slade, Bowie, Black Sabbath, in fact all sorts. Being an avid reader of music papers, I can recall around that time, a band by the name of Dr. Feelgood cropping up more and more in the "titbits" columns of the N.M.E. etc. I've tried to figure it out, but I really, not having heard them, don't know why I was immediately drawn to the band, maybe it was that "magical" rock'n'roll way that gets hold of many of us at some time.
Anyway, soon pictures appeared in the music papers, they looked different, almost menacing. The first time I heard them was on a regional T.V. programme called "45", and from then on, I was on a Feelgood rollercoaster. I already knew I liked them, but seeing and hearing them just cemented the fact. I bought "Down By The Jetty", and played it none stop, and learnt all the songs on my guitar. I'd had a blues harp lying around for a few years, but hearing Lee's playing made me dust it off and really get stuck into it.
Interviews with the Feelgoods were always well worth reading, especially in the Gypie era. Whilst other bands were trying to explain their inner selves, the Feelgoods would be telling the world about drinking, gambling, snuff taking and boilerama. A particular favourite of mine was in the Melody Maker, entitled "Jollying Up With The Feelgoods". And of course, being an avid fan, I collected all of these interviews, in fact anything to do with the band.
So running alongside all of this, I was myself playing in bands, not always R'n'B, but whenever I could, I would try and persuade other members to try it out. In fact, the very first band I was in, kicked off it's first gig with "Back In The Night", in a village hall in Derbyshire in 1975. It was groundbreaking for that part of the world - I can tell you!
The current band, and by far the best I've had the pleasure to be in, is "Route 66", and we've been together since 1990. It's an "up front" English style R'n'B band, and we've done hundreds of gigs. There are many facets of Dr. Feelgood that influence me, of course the musical side, but also the actual performance - we like to keep the momentum going, and so keep the introductions to a minimum - in short, we try to look and sound professional. Of course, whether we do or not, you'll have to ask the punters. Oh, and while we're on about punters, one or two occasionally ask why we don't do more Feelgood numbers. We do "Down At The Doctors" and "King For A Day", but prefer to go our own way and just take the influence - in short, we don't want to be another spoof band.
So it goes without saying, but I will anyway, "Thanks" Dr. Feelgood - if you'd not come along, then God only knows what kind of band I'd be in now.
* * A Cassette - "Blow Your Fuse" - containing 8 tracks, including "King For A Day" and "White Boy In Town Tonight", is available for £ 4.00 (U.K.) or £ 5.00 (outside U.K.). Cheques to Ian Fawkes c/o Dr. Feelgood Information Service, PO Box 94, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS43YX * *
A £ 1.00 donation to S.C.E.N.T. for each tape sold.
WHITE BOY IN TOWN TONIGHT
got the paper, I got the dates
In town for my ticket, I can't be late
I've heard the groove, I've seen the look
I wanna see for myself now, I don't want the book
off the days
White boy in town tonight
Out to some land I've never seen before
Leave my troubles at the door
White boy in town tonight
up, show time
Place rocking, I feel so fine
Blues harp, white suit
Place rocking right down to the roots
White boy in town tonight
It's gonna blow your fuse, total rhythm & blues
And make you feelgood
White boy in town tonight
got the news, sad time
Real blues resting on my mind
Thunder roar, black cloud
But my memory don't wear a shroud
in the world
White boy in town tonight
I'll remember those days for the rest of my life
Make you feelgood
White boy in town tonight
66" - GIG DATES
5th - Burnley Blues Festival
9th - North Valley Hotel - Colne
12th - Royal Oak - Chesterfield
18th - Talbot Hotel - Burnley
23rd - The George - Accrington
24th - Bull 'ith Thorn - Buxton
9th - Garricks Head - Flixton, Manchester
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An old feature in the news sheets ofthe early 90's, was a section where I used to select some of the many questions sent to me, and print them and the answers for everyone's benefit. I am going to reinstate this practise, but also expand the article for fans to advertise things (No Bootlegs though) and possibly answer the questions I cannot. Here is this quarters selection.
Q: I can't remember if I've sent SAE's or not - Are we notified when they run out?
(David Fowler, Ashford, Kent)
A: When I am sending out the latest issue, I write on the back of the envelope how many SAE's are left when people are about to run out - so when you see a message, "1 SAE left"' or "No SAE's left", that is the time to send further. I do not send any other reminder as the service is free, so costs need to be kept to a minimum, and it's not like a fan club where a membership fee is paid where you are committed to receiving every issue. Some fans only send in SAE's for the October issue which covers the UK tour dates - the choice is down to the individual.
Torsten Peters (Germany) writes: "Thank you very much for the organised tour through Canvey last year. A big "Thank You" also from my 5 friends that went with us that day. It was a very unique thing to meet all the places that played a role for the Feelgoods on Canvey. Led by the group's manager! That's a thing that hardly any fan can tell about his favourite group. And to top this: a visit in the Feelgood HQ, with all the memorabilia e.g. the toby jugs. As a Feelgood fan for more than 21 years, I will never forget this day".
Martin Feltham (Southsea) writes: "I've just got a copy of the "TKO Magnum Music Group" catalogue, in which they are selling a video of the 1972 London Rock & Roll Show at Wembley Stadium, featuring Heinz + Dr. Feelgood doing one song (C'mon Everybody). Although it only shows Heinz doing one song, it could be worth forking out £ 14.50 to see the pre-recorded long haired Feelgoods, and definitely worth a mention in your newsletter".
R. Canty, (Flat 4, Whitstone Orchard, Whitstone Road, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 6EY) writes: "I am trying to obtain the following records to complete my collection. Is there anyone on your mailing list that may be able to help?"
1 ) Dangerous - Demon 7" 1030
2) My Way - Demon 7" 1032
3) Don't Wait Up - Stiff 12" Buy It 253
4) See You Later - Stiff 12" Buy It 255
5) Milk & Alcohol - EMI 7" EM89
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JOHNNY GREEN SPEAKING
I've been accosted, and involuntarily removed from my local hostelry to sign off this issue of Feelin' Good - so let's be brief, so I can return to my drinking. The next issue will be out in July, and will feature all sorts of stuff, but we still need more articles from your good selves. So please send to the usual address to obtain the next issue - full details appear here.
OTHER PARTS OF THIS
Robin Hood R&B Club 2, UK - Nov. 28, 1998 to Newsletters:
New Gigs section
Ipswich, Corn Exchange, UK - Dec. 21, 1998 to Newsletters: New Gigs section
to Newsletter Issue 16/July 1999
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