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Snippets of FEELIN' GOOD Issue 17/October 1999

Published with friendly permission of editor John Butterfield.

 

SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR

"In the heart of the city, where the alligators roam...", words penned by Nick "Basher" Lowe, back in the 1970's, many years before Dr. Feelgood recorded "See You Later Alligator" for Stiff Records. An unnamed band were rehearsing their set, when halfway through a song (during the solo), the singer - Robert Kane, suddenly thought, "The Alligators" would make an ideal name. This was for two reasons, firstly, the band played hard R'n'B, not unlike the Feelgoods, and Robert really liked the Feelgoods rendition of "See You Later Alligator". The Alligators evolved after 5 years, to become "The Animals" (Note by Gabi: I think they've called themselves "The Animals II" because some members of the band were original "Animals" from the Sixties, also The Animal - Eric Burdon - was around with a band called "The New Animals"), and after 5 years of touring the world with them, Robert Kane (from the heart of the city of Sunderland, in the North East of England), has now joined Dr. Feelgood as the new vocalist. Robert played his first Feelgood gig in France on 14th of August 1999 (more about that later), replacing Pete Gage, who played his final gig with the Feelgoods at Munich Festival on 1st August (Note by Gabi: The Feelgoods arrived in time at the venue in Munich, ready to play around midnight, but the show became cancelled due to mismanagement by the organisators, who hadn't thought on the people who had to get up early next morning for work...). There will be a lot more about Robert, in this, and future issues. I've seen Robert perform many times with the Animals over the past few years, and feel he is an ideal replacement, as he is a true professional entertainer with a very good voice - an active performer who can bring something new and exciting to Dr. Feelgood. He's also been a fan of Dr. Feelgood since the Wilko Johnson days. Don't just take my word for it though, check them out yourself on the stage, live.

The next issue will be in January, and will feature details of a BRAND NEW STUDIO ALBUM featuring Dr. Feelgood with Robert Kane. Send your SAE's in if you want a copy of "Feelin' Good" when printed. (Detailed supplying info)

Keep on Feelin' Good

John Butterfield

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BONJOUR ROBERT

Bob Geldof doesn't like Mondays, well I don't particularly like Thursdays - it's near the weekend, but not close enough, however, the 12th August was a Thursday with a difference. I had the joy of looking forward to a 7 hours drive from Guisborough to Canvey Island, via Sunderland. Why Sunderland, which is 45 minutes north in the opposite direction? The reason was to collect the new singer with the perennial purveyors of the finest live R'n'B in Britain - Dr. Feelgood. So after being forced out of my comfortable bed, at some unearthly hour in the morning, I found myself in Sunderland at 9.45 a.m.
I'd met Robert Kane many times over the past few years, and seen him perform with the Animals at a range of venues. It goes without saying that I really enjoyed his vocals and stage presence with them, and now here he is joining Dr. Feelgood. Throughout the journey, I tried to discover as much as I could in order to answer any future questions Feelgood fans may write and ask me. So what follows is a report of the first gig with smatterings of titbits/morsels to whet your appetite, and hopefully encourage you to check out the new lineup for yourselves.

After a long journey, we arrived at Mushroom Studios, Hullbridge, Essex, at 4.15 p.m., and after a very welcome cup of tea, it was into the rehearsal. The task was to prepare a set that lasted 1 hour, as the gig was a Festival, and they had to adhere to the time limit. A 12 song set was proposed, and off they went, opening with "Talkin 'Bout You". My first impression of the new sounding Feelgood, was the fact that every word was sung, and really clear. With absolutely no disrespect to Lee or Pete, this was different, but in a very positive way it brought something new and exciting to every song.

After the first set had been played, it was agreed to convene for a refreshment break - so off to the pub where I was glad we hadn't stopped to eat on the way down, as the food came on 17" wide plates (honestly), and the food filled the plates. With a few drinks of beer, I think an extra inch or two was added to my awning above the toyshop. During the meal, Kevin told us about the latest developments regarding the next album. It was originally to be recorded in January, but now EMI want it finished by January, so after a shuffle around, the Finland tour in September was rescheduled for January, leaving the Feelgoods free to record the new tracks between 18th - 30th September, and then go back into the studio during the UK tour, to make any refinements etc. The plan was to record at Abbey Road Studios, but apparently Jimmy Page has block booked it, so it is not possible. Plan B then to be put into action - record at Mushroom Studios, with Dave Bronze producing.

So back to the studio, and this time we had to time the set, to ensure it is one hour long. As the songs were played, Steve, Phil, Kevin and Robert made suggestions to improve the versions, such as extra verses, different endings, solos etc. One casualty from the set was an Elmore James song, "It Hurts Me Too", which was intended to be the filling in a sandwich of slide guitar numbers, "I Can't Hold Out" and "Back In The Night". It will work well in a full set, but due to the fact that some of the later, uptempo numbers had to be left out, it was felt it slowed the set down too much, with not enough time to take the set back up to the climax. Set building is a science with a beginning, middle and ending, and Dr. Feelgood want to achieve the perfect formula for each setting, to ensure fans get the best. Other songs previously rehearsed which will probably find their way into the Feelgood set in other shows, included "Sneakin Suspicion", "Baby Jane", "Instinct To Survive", "Tanqueray", "Mad Man Blues", "Heart Of The City", "See You Later Alligator", "Going Back Home", "No Mo Do Yakamo", "Bonie Moronie", "All Through The City", "You Don't Love Me" and a brilliant version of "I'm A Hog For You Baby". When we'd finally got it down to one hour, it was time to call it a day, so Steve, Robert and I (the exports to the South), headed off to our beds for the night. It was the good old "Oyster Fleet Hotel" on Canvey Island, and we couldn't decline the invitation to join Whitey for a few drinks at the bar. Chris told us he'd just returned from America, where he'd spent some time with Johnny Crippen (aka Johnny Guitar), who is very high up in the Planet Hollywood management structure. After a few beers and wines and tales to tell and listen to, it was bedtime.

Got up early on Friday the 12th, to a sunny morning. Steve, Phil, Kevin had all worn shorts at the rehearsal, and I knew Robert had his packed, but I hadn't, so I made a quick telephone call to the seeker of bargains - Johnny Green, for help. He directed me to a charity shop where I bought a pair of chino shorts and a T-shirt for £3.15. Johnny is renowned for his aversion to the disposal of income earned (whether legitimate or not!).

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We left Canvey after 10.00 a.m., and arrived at Dover at 12 Noon, and met up with Steve, who'd driven his own car, and waited for the van to arrive. Half an hour later we were on the ferry (Steve and me left our cars at Dover). Once in France, it was as a 3 or 4 hour drive to our hotel for the night. We were all in the Feelgoodmobile, which is a Mercedes Benz Sprinter, with 2 seats in the front, 4 aircraft seats in the middle, to give maximum resting room, and an enclosed rear where the equipment is stored. Once more there was lots to chat about - at one point we were talking about strange gigs - Robert recalled playing in Edmonton Stadium, Canada, and Steve had also played in Canada with the DT's. Steves strangest gig was with The Big Town Playboys (external link to BTPs Website), playing at Jeff Beck's birthday party in Jeff's living room. There Steve was playing with Jeff sitting 7 feet in front of him on the floor - also present were Kate Bush, Jimmy Page (not that guy again), and Brian May, who afterwards voiced his surprise at how Steve can just plug straight into the amp with no effects/assistance whatsoever, and play so well!! Kevin related that he had lived in Paris for about 4 months, when he played in the French rock band "Trust".

We arrived at our resting place in Nord Orleans, where we settled at the bar, where we worked our way through the draught and bottled beers. I soon went onto carafes of that lovely flavoured water, the French call "Vin Rouge".
It was a night of amusement, with many funny tales/jokes told (can't mention them here). Steve Marriott and Animals tales were told by Steve and Robert. At some point, Phil declared he was unhappy at being in the bed, as he is now the oldest, to which Steve then replied that he was no longer the youngest. Can't remember when I got to bed, but remember waking up at 9 a.m. and deciding to walk down the road and found a bar where people were already drinking wine/beer. I must be getting old, as I just ordered a coffee. Back at the hotel we had time to kill as weren't leaving till noon, so Robert told me of his acting days under the name of Robert Coyle. He actually played a part in "Spender" with Jimmy Nail, as well as some theatre work, and wrote a few songs for "Crocodile Shoes", but these weren't used. In those days he had long blonde hair! On checking out of the hotel, I noticed on the price list, it was only 30F for Animals (does this mean Robert could have got a cheaper room a few weeks back?). Back with the Feelgoodmobile, and off to Clermont Ferrand, another 3 hours south of Orleans. Robert told us of his hobby of running and walking, but a damaged ligament caused by jumping over a monitor in Spain, meant he was supposed to rest it, and Phil of his football refereeing. We checked into a hotel, but weren't to stop there, only to use it as resting place, so after a bath I went for a walk into Clermont Ferrand, bumped into Phil, so went for a drink in a bar, where Phil admitted it was strange to hear two Northerners in the van! At 8 p.m. we set off for the gig, a Hells Angels Festival, about an hour away, if you don't get lost! We did, and arrived 2 hours later to be informed there was more than 20,000 people present - what a crowd for a debut. The running order when we arrived was Wishbone Ash, Joe Strummer, and then Dr. Feelgood (supposed to be 1 a.m., but it ended up 2 a.m. in the end). After a meal, we went to our dressing room and were
surprised when Joe Strummer came in for a chat. Robert had seen Joe when in Chelsea many years ago, and spoke to him about it. Joe then borrowed some honey to put in his tea, apparently both Joe's and Robert's way of keeping those vocal chords vocal. Plenty of red wine and good music, and before long it's 2 a.m. - time for Robert Kane's first gig with Dr. Feelgood, with only 20,000 people standing in a field. Were they up for it?

"Talkin 'Bout You", the first number, introduced Robert with his jacket, shirt (no tie), soft skateboard shoes!, trousers and sunglasses. Despite him being ordered to rest his leg, he was off, moving around the stage like a madman. One minute he's at the front pointing at the audience, then he's at the back near Kevins drums, narrowly missing Phil and Steve on the way. No time for air as the band rocked straight into "If My Baby Quit Me", a regular Feelgood number, but now different, as you can hear the melody. An old favourite "She Does It Right", with an extra verse, and Roberts first airing of the harmonica (he uses Hohner harps - A,C,D, by the way). It wasn't safe to be too close to Robert, as Phil found out when the mike stand held by Robert, whisked by him, missing him by inches, or should it be centimetres! During "I Can Tell" the mike stand became a weapon, with Robert aiming it like a lance, at anyone who moved. "Down By The Jetty Blues",with an extra 2 minutes, was as always a brilliant version, but this time Steve seemed to be thrashing the guitar as if he was punishing it for not getting the last round of drinks in before time was called at the bar. Phil was playing bass like I've never seen him play before, and Kevin's cymbals could well have taken a trip to the pharmacy, suffering from aches and pains, the way they were struck. Robert greeted the audience, who by now were spellbound, with "merci beaucoup very much", and a personal message for Joe Strummer, "je suis un Sunderland fan", referring to the first football match of this season, when Sunderland were narrowly beaten by Joe's favourite team - "Chelsea"! Steve strapped on his ESP slide guitar for Elmore James' "I Can't Hold Out", sounding incredibly like "Dust My Broom". Robert was goading the audience to talk to me baby", right up the front of the stage, giving the crowd a prescription no patient could refuse. There was one bloke at the front of the stage, who had been trying to take photos, but couldn't catch Robert still enough - by now he'd given up, and was boogieing with the thousands behind him. "Back In The Night" followed, before the popular "Milk And Alcohol" and and "Roxette". The night was coming to an end, but not before the two closing songs, "She's A Wind Up" and "Down At The Doctors", before the band left the stage to massive applause. Despite being told they had to stay within an hour, and there was still another band to follow, and it's now 3 a.m., Dr. Feelgood had to go back on. What can they close with? - well it had to be "Route 66". Lots of congratulatons from people after the show, and at 4 a.m. we set off for the ferry back to England.

Back on English soil for dinnertime, and then Robert and I said "good-bye" or "au revoir", to the lads, and set off up north. A tiring journey back, but plenty of time to discuss how it had gone. It was fair to say that the French audience were "up for it", and enjoyed it. A great gig - that's only my opinion, and possibly 20,000 others. I would love to hear your comments, so just drop me a line or write an article for possible inclusion in "Feelin' Good" (Note by Gabi: It also would look good at this website, what do you think?! So please also mail me your review(s)).

Get to see Dr. Feelgood as soon as you can, and see for yourself.

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LOOKIN' BACK

Johnny Green here - yes I've been well and truly done over, had, maybe even conned by Mr Butterfield. Due to my not submitting the promised article last issue, your editor duly took me out for what I thought was a pleasant drink. Well one drink led to another, the nectar amber flowing smoothly and before I knew it I had agreed to cormpile an article lookin' back over the Feelgoods official discography. Could be a simple task, but oh no, Mr Butterfield has requested that it is presented in a format by the different line ups. No one needs a calculator, logarithms or abacus to work out that it will take more than the 4 issues I originally agreed to. Oh well, it's my punishment but you will have to suffer me for quite a while longer!

One glass of md wine in hand, the bottle by my side with Feelgood on the CD player, and off we jolly well go, a trip into the long distant past dusting the cobwebs in my brain as we go. We could commence our journey anywhere, but lets go to that grand year of 1974 when the Feelgoods participated in the New Favourites Tour with Brinsley Schwarz and Dave Edmunds. At Dingwalls in London the set was recorded and one track was "saved" for their debut album. The track was "Bonie Moronie/Tequila" with guests Bob Andrews and Brinsley Schwarz. The band used to play "Bonie Moronie" straight - check out that version or the latest CD "Live at the BBC 1974/75" (available from Grand Records) but spontaneity took over during a gig at the Canvey Island Oil Refinery Claimants Union Ball when half way through "Bonie", Wilko started playing Mexican type riffs, and the band sort of fell into doing "Tequila". It is now a recognised medley in the Feelgood repertoire. That first album "Down By The Jetty" (UAS 29727) was recorded at the Rockfield Studios in Wales, commencing on 26th August. It was produced by Vic Maile who in 1973 had planned to record an EP but lack of cash provented this happening. It did not appear until the following year in January 1975, but preceding "DBTJ" was the very frst single "Roxette/Route 66" (UP 35760) in November 1974.

"Roxette" a Wilko Johnson classic, received good reviews from the English Music Press. With a 1964 feel of The Yardbirds, it tells the story of a man leaving town for a few days on business, but is concerned about Roxette not remaining faithful following an earlier discretion observed by him whilst at a gig by a Rock and Roll band (who?). The plans to keep her in check involved bricking her into her dwelling place. The B side of course everybody knows is the Feelgoods version of the Bobby Troupe number "Route 66".

The sleeve picture of "DBTJ" was as uncompromising as the albums content. A black & white shot of the four guys Wilko, Sparko, Figure and Lee, alongside the seawall behind the Lobster Smack on Canvey Island. Melody Maker described it as "4 miserable looking creatures snapped in Oil City. The picture on the back says this is what life in a rock bard can be - Purgatory. The music inside is as uncompromising as the wintry weather in the picture - Sharp and stormy, raging at it's heigth with cyclonic intensity. Dr. Feelgoods music has the no-nonsense message of a fist in the mouth." The album sleeve even made number 17 in The Independents "Great Covers" in 1996, again the article referred to "chaps hunched on a Canvey jetty in the teeth of a North Sea howler, sucking in their cheeks not to look cool but because they were bloody freezing."
The tracks on "Down By The Jetty" were "She Does It Right", "Boom Boom" (John Lee Hooker tune with Wilko on vocals and Lee with some great harp), "The More I Give" ( a catchy Wilko original and some snazzy organ playing (of the keyboard type)), "Roxette", "One Weekend", "That Ain't The Way To Behave" (proof of Wilko's lack of singing lessons but proof that Wilko is multi talented not only as a great song writer and guitarist but a competent pianist), "I Don't Mind", "Twenty Yards Behind" (Wilko on vocals again), "Keep It Out Of Sight" (a track with excellent riff, some nifty drumming and stops), "All Through The City" (the title track?? "I've been searching all through the city, see ya in the morning down by the jetty" figures heavily in the chorus), "Cheque Book" (the first Feelgood recording of a Mickey Jupp song), "Oyeh" (an instrumental), and the closer "Bonie Moronie/Tequila".

The second single "She Does It Right/I Don't Mind" (UP 35815) was released in March 1975, and this time both tracks by Wilko. One of my favourite songs, and still played live today. "Disc" described it as a "snazzy, ripe, piece of steady rock'n'roll, fronted by the Doc's gruff, suggestive appraisal of his favourite lady."

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"Back In The Night/I'm A Man" (UP 35857) the third single, preceded "Malpractice" by being released in July 1975 - one review said "C'mon boys. This one's already bombed once and you wanna try for a double header? 'Don't You Just Know It' would've been a far better choice for a single." How come then that today "Back In The Night" is the favourite track by fans who voted on Gabi's website and Lee listed the song as HIS favourite live song in an earlier newsletter. The inclusion of a live version of "I'm A Man" was a good choice as it was already established as a classic in the Feelgood's live set, and had not been released in studio or live format before.

Were the Feelgoods guilty of this? Rock and roll malpractice - they sure were and what a follow up album in October 1975.

"Malpractice" (UAS 29880) defined as a wrongdoing in legal terms, or a physician's improper or negligent treatment of a patient .Once more a black and white picture of the band lurking! Recorded at the Olympic and Pye Studios and produced by Dr. Feelgood and Vic Maile. Longest track just over 4 1/2 minutes whilst the shortest a little more than 2 1/2 minutes. One review described the band as "dangerously inflammable". Tracks include "I Can Tell" (a Bo Diddley song), the only studio version of "Riot In Cell Block #9", "Going Back Home" and ends with the Feelgoods sounding like they were rushing to catch "last orders" at the pub - "You Shouldn't Call The Doctor". New Musical Express said "Malpractice was a more thoughtful and potent prescription". Lee wields some vicious slide guitar on a few cuts and guesting again was Bob Andrews. John lngham from Sounds said "The songs were guaranteed to blast the neighbours into comatose shock and if it didn't make the charts then we need the Doctor even more than I thought". It did make the UK charts managing to reach the Top 20.

They finally got it right - "Stupidity" (UAS 29990) released in September 1976. A live album partly recorded before "Maipradice" at Sheffield on 23rd May'75 and Southend Kursaal on Saturday 8th November'75, the penultimate show on a 23 date UK Tour, and "saved" until the time was right. Well it must have been, as it entered the UK album charts at number 8 and went to number one the week after - and it didn't have a hit single to help push it there. "Stupidity" has been reviewed in Feelin' Good when it was reissued on Grand last year so there is no need to repeat, other than to say it was good then and it still brings back memories. There was a free single of "Johnny B Goode/Route 66" which was only given with the first 20,000 copies. "Johnny" was recorded at the Kursaal where "Route 66" was at Friars Vale Hall, Aylesbury on 17th May'75. Melody Maker said it was the definitive Feelgood album and terms used in their review of 2/l0/70 include "a ferociously orchestrated attack on the nervous system, strangled aggression of Lee's bruised vocals, pneumatic insistence of the rhythm section, claustrophobic tension, like a snake-hipped juggernaut, Dr. Feelgood burn parts of your brain that most bands couldn't singe with a blow torch."

A live single quickly followed with "Roxette/Keep It Out Of Sight" (UP 36171) in October 1976, but this did not make the charts.

The band had played in America and spent most of their time on the road in many countnies. This led to stress and strained relationships between the group members. The culmination of the extra demands with touring, recording, writing material came to a head during the recording of the Feelgood's 4th album, and Wilko's last as a Feelgood. Three songs influenced the irrepairable rift between Wilko and the rest of the band, which was becoming more impossible each day and although the official biography by Tony Moon mentioned the rift, the actual songs were not named so here's an exclusive for "Feelin' Good". I'm not going to add to the "did Wilko leave" or "was he sacked" arguments as I feel there has been enough water passed under the bridge to reopen that old chestnut, but here's more information on the three songs.

"I've Seen The Signs" was recorded for "Sneakin" but Lee felt uncomfortable about his vocals so it did not appear. When "Everyone's Carrying A Gun" the 2nd track to be recorded at Rockfield also was not picked, but "Lucky Seven" was, Wilko felt the band should have considered his views and depending on which version you hear, he walked out or was sacked at the end of March. Wilko did record a version of "I've Seen The Signs" which appeared on his debut solo album with the Solid Senders.

"Sneakin' Suspicion" (UAS 30075) was recorded at Rockfield Studios, and produced by an American, Bert de Coteaux. As Wilko was no longer a Feelgood a dilemma ensued over the album sleeve. There was no group to take a picture of, but it was solved by a trip to the Island where the Canvey Club's exterior was transformed into the Alibi Club and a picture of Lee lighting his cigarette was used. A very similar shot was taken for the last album Lee appeared on, outside the Dr. Feelgood Music Bar - coincidence that Wilko and Lee's last album shots were alike??

Melody Maker on 14/05/77 reviewed the album as an "Epitaph toWilko" stating that "Out of the back biting has come Dr. Feelgood's best album yet, a vital, frenzied set in the best tradition of their remarkable stage shows." "Your bodies pumping boogie and it's reaching to your brain" just about sums up the music on "Sneakin' Suspicion". Wilko has gone but his presence lives on in this album. The album was released in May 1977 and a single "Sneakin' Suspicion/Lights Out" (UP 36255) was released in the same month.
The track "Lights Out" appeared on "Top of the Pops" - Dr Feelgood's first appearance, and also the TV debut of the replacemert to Wilko.

(To Be Continued)

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ROADRUNNER

The band have been going for a number of years, but it is only since May 1998 that we have settled into the "classic" Feelgood style four piece line up that I have always dreamed of. For me, the wheel has turned full circle, as it was with a similar line up back in 1970 at school, that I first got to pay some live rhythm and blues.
The life changing moment came when I saw Dr. Feelgood on the TV show, "45", one afternoon in mid-1975. Up to then, we all wanted to be members of Uriah Heep, Hawkwind or worse! The Feelgoods seemed so different and accessible, and within a couple of months, our schoolboy combo had slimmed down to a four man band, and we were stumbling through "All Through the City".
Everything was sealed when Dr Feelgood played the De Montfort Hall in Leicester, in October 1975, and we saw the band in full cry - "Riot in Cell Block No. 9", "Stupidity", and several others were quickly added to our own set list!
Through the ensuing years, I played in a variety of bands, and even supported Gene Washington on a series of University dates in 1980/1, when his guitar player told me that he had auditioned for the Feelgoods - a story that we all declared was "bollocks" afterwards. You can imagine the shock I had when Gordon Russell eventually took the best job in the world!
For me, there never has been another band with the spirit and fire of Dr. Feelgood.
In the 130 gigs that my own band has done across the Midlands since May 1998, I would wish for a fraction of that Feelgood factor to be up there with us - thanks Lee, you were, and will always be, the one and only "Roadrunner".

Steve Rawlings


OTHER PARTS OF THIS ISSUE
were added

Buddy Buddy Friends: Robert Kane Personal Info to "Feelgood 2000" page


Go to Newsletter Issue 18/January 2000
 

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