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DR FEELGOOD
ALBUM REVIEWS

 

External link to Reviews of Dr Feelgood Albums at iq451.com

DOWN BY THE JETTY (1975) - [Coverart]

Tracks: She Does It Right / Boom Boom / The More I Give / Roxette / One Weekend / That Ain't No Way To Behave / I Don't Mind / Twenty Yards Behind / Keep It Out Of Sight / All Through The City / Cheque Book / Oyeh / Bonie Moronie / Tequila

Review:
The CD reissue of this album is a must-own release, even for those who already have one of the Dr. Feelgood anthologies currently available, neither of which has more than three of the 13 tracks here. The 1975 album, a magnificent first album, recorded in pure mono, has been transferred to CD in exemplary form, a clean, sharp, crunchy, close sound that recalls the sonic textures of the Rolling Stones' first album, even as they cross swords with the Stones' arch-rivals of the era, the Animals, with a superb version of Boom Boom. Wilko Johnson's guitar shares the spotlight with Lee Brilleaux, lead singer and blues harpist, in what was a powerful debut -- American fans hearing this material compared the band to the mid-1970s Flamin' Groovies, and the two groups' sounds are similar, except that Dr. Feelgood's music is less sentimental in reviving an older sound. Released amid the burgeoning radio presence of acts like Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, and Kansas, and the growing self-conscious profundity of Bruce Springsteen, Down By the Jetty was as refreshingly lean as anything the headline-grabbing '70s punks would later loose on the world, and as stripped down as the most basic roots-rock. Brilleaux's singing could go up against Eric Burdon's or Cyril Davies, and even take on elements of a thick rasp vaguely reminiscent of Howlin' Wolf (listen closely to Roxette), certainly better than Mick Jagger ever did; and Johnson could play Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry, or Bo Diddley licks with equally imposing (and seemingly effortless) virtuosity -- check out One Weekend, That Ain't the Way to Behave, Twenty Yards Behind, and, especially, I Don't Mind, where Johnson manages to rip through Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Jeff Beck's sound on the Yardbirds' Lost Woman without sounding exactly like any of them. The band never lost sight of songs, a good beat, and a danceable groove, which put them more than one up on the punks. This record was one of the great '70s rock & roll albums, right up there with the Groovies' Shake Some Action and anything CCR left us, and ran circles around the Rolling Stones' post-Exile On Main Street output. The final cut, a killer live medley of Bonie Maronie/Tequila with guests Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews blowing saxes, was a taste of what they did on stage with astonishing regularity, and could have sent the Ramones back the the drawing board if the Queens-based quartet had heard it.
Bruce Eder, All-Music Guide

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STUPIDITY LIVE (1976) - [Coverart]

Tracks: Talking About You / 20 Yards Behind / Stupidity / All Through The City / I'm A Man / Walking The Dog / She Does It Right / Going Back Home / I Don't Mind / Back In The Night / I'm A Hog For You Baby / Checking Up On My Baby / Roxette / Riot In Cell Block No. 9 / Johnny Be Goode

Review:
Comprised of recordings taken from 1975 tours, the live Stupidity finally captures the relentless, hard-driving energy of Dr. Feelgood at their peak. All the music on Stupidity is presented raw and without overdubs, making it clear that the dynamic friction between guitarist Wilko Johnson and vocalist Lee Brilleaux could propel the band toward greatness. While many of the versions here don't differ in form from the original studio versions, these unvarnished performances are considerably more exciting, revealing the Johnson originals She Does It Right and All Through the City as minor rock & roll classics.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide

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BE SEEING YOU (1977) - [Coverart]

Tracks: Ninety-Nine And A Half (Wont Do) / She's A Windup / I Thought I Had It Made / I Don't Wanna Know / That's It I Quit / As Long As The Price Is Right / Hi-Rise / My Buddy Buddy Friends / Baby Jane / The Blues Had A Baby (And They Named It Rock N'Roll) / Looking Back / 60 Minutes Of Your Love

Review:
The Nick Lowe-produced Be Seeing You, Dr. Feelgood's first album with guitarist John Mayo, was only slightly weaker than the group's previous records. Although Mayo was still working his way into the band's sound, Dr. Feelgood retained their tough, hard-rocking appeal.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide

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PRIVATE PRACTICE (1978) - [Coverart]

Tracks: Down At The Doctors / Every Kind Of Vice / Things Get Better / Milk And Alcohol / Night Time / Let's Have A Party / Take A Tip / It Wasn't Me / Greaseball / Sugar Shaker

Review:
Although producer Richard Gottehrer gives Private Practice a sound that's just a little too clean and restrained, the album nevertheless is a fine set of professional R&B and rock & roll. The material on the album is a little uneven, but with the assistance of Nick Lowe, the Feelgoods wrote a pair of tight, catchy rockers in Milk and Alcohol and It Wasn't Me, which stood out among the entertaining, yet generally generic, songs.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide

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AS IT HAPPENS & THE ENCORE EP (1979) - [Coverart]

Tracks: Take A Tip / Every Kind Of Vice / Down At The Doctors / Baby Jane / Sugar Shaker / Things Get Better / She's A Windup / Ninety-Nine And A Half / My Buddy Buddy Friends / Milk And Alcohol / Matchbox / As Long As The Price Is Right / Night Time / Riot In Cell Block No.9 / The Blues Had A Baby, And They Named It Rock'n'Roll / Lights Out / Great Balls Of Fire

Review:
The live As It Happens captures Dr. Feelgood at one of its weakest stages, as John Mayo was still finding his place in the group. Furthermore, the band relies on second-rate material throughout the record, making As It Happens a minor addition to the group's catalog.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide

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CASE HISTORY (1987)

Tracks: Going Back Home / Back In The Night / Roxette / She Does It Right / Sneakin' Suspicion / No Mo Do Yakamo / She's A Wind Up / As Long As The Price Is Right / Down At The Doctors / Milk And Alcohol / Violent Love / Jumping From Love To Love / Best In The World / Rat Race / Close But No Cigar / Play Dirty / Don't Wait Up / See You Later Alligator

Review:
Case History -- The Best of Dr. Feelgood is a fine, basic primer of the group's best moments, featuring such Feelgood staples as "She Does It Right," "Roxette," "As Long as the Price Is Right," "She's a Wind Up," "Down at the Doctors" and "Milk and Alcohol." It does shortchange the group's early records somewhat, but it remains a fine single-disc introduction.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All-Music Guide

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LIVE AT BBC 1974-5 (1999) - [Coverart][Promo Postcard]

Tracks: My Baby, Your Baby / I'm Talking About You / One Weekend / Rock Me Baby 4:40 (King/Josea - Carlin Music) / Bonie Moronie / She Does It Right / Twenty Yards Behind / The More I Give / Boom Boom / All Through The City / Talk To Me Baby / Route / I Can Tell / Going Back Home / Don't You Just Know It / Roxette / Another Man / I Don't Mind / Riot In Cell Block # 9 / Rollin' And Tumblin' / You Shouldn't Call The Doctor (If You Can't Efford The Bills)

Review 1:
At the time the first of the three concerts which grace this CD were recorded Dr. Feelgood were already ruffling feathers on the British rock scene. Two and a half years later they were sitting pretty at the top of the UK album chart. The era of the concept album was well upon us so the emergence of a young band playing Rythm'n'Blues with attitude was like a breath of fresh air. Pub goers on the group's native Canvey Island were the first to raise a glass to this unique act and very soon the word spread to the capital where the Feelgoods became the darlings of the rock press.

All the recordings on this CD were made at the Paris Theatre in London. It was a favourite BBC location but as guitarist Wilko Johnson recently recalled it wasn't the type of venue the Feelgoods were used to: "It was good. We were pleased with the results but it was a bit strange. We were used to doing the pubs with everybody leaping about. The Paris was a quiet little theatre which had comedy shows and things like that".

Despite the fact that in March 1974 the Feelgoods were about to broadcast to hundreds of thousands of radio listeners there was very little rehearsal time set aside for the day. Wilko says it simply wasn't their style: "We just used to go on and do it. There was nothing we could do to prepare for it. It was strange though walking out on stage to perform before a seated audience."

Wilko's material dominated all three "in concert" programmes. His songs, many of which remain in Dr. Feelgood's set to this very day, together with well chosen covers, gave the boys from Oil City (Note by Gabi: How Canvey Island also is called.) a certain edge that no other band had. This wasn't music to be analysed. The Feelgoods were out for a lark and were genuinely surprised that their music took off like it did.

This collection reveals all the raw energy that made Dr. Feelgood such a formidable act. The Wilko era came to an end in 1977. Tensions within the group resulted in an acromonious split. Wilko formed the Solid Senders while Lee Brilleaux, the Big Figure and John B. Sparks recruited Gypie Mayo and the next chapter in the colourful history of Dr. Feelgood began. These vintage recordings capture Dr. Feelgood at their very best. Enjoy.

Stephen Foster / February 1999

Review 2:
Yet another unreleased archive tape from Auntie, this collection has been remastered to show off the full blues-rock timbre of singer Lee Brilleaux and the boys. And B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby" is done justice by guitarist Wilko Johnson, while "20 Yards Behind" predates the 'nutty boy' beat with its harmonica sway, and "Bonie Moronie" is new wave Quo! There are several gruff blues numbers along Groundhogs lines too, but the majority of the Paris Theatre material is an array of basic blues/rock, a bit of skiffle and rockabilly rumbles. Less milk, more alcohol.

Tim Jones, Record Collector Magazine / June 1999

REVIEW 3:
See Newsletter Issue 15 / April 1999 for the review by "Feelin' Good" editor John Butterfield.

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CHESS MASTERS (2000) - [Coverart][Statements]

Tracks: Nadine / Date Bait / You Gotta Help Me / Talkin' Bout You / The Walk / 29 Ways / Who Do You Love / If Walls Could Talk / Send For The Doctor / Killing Floor / Suzie Q / Don't Start Me Talking / Gimme One More Shot / Hoochie Goochie Man

Review 1:
See Newsletter Issue 19 / January 2000 for the review by "Feelin' Good" editor John Butterfield, UK.

Review 2:
Above review was written during the train ride back home from the Swizz tour of the Feelgoods. While listening to "Chess Masters" many thoughts and feelings sprang into my mind, so I started writing them down for having a base to write a "proper" review for the website later. In the meantime I decided not to change the original notes because they are a straight, raw and honest describtion of how the various Chess Master tracks (continuously) work on me:

NADINE: Great rhythm, goes straight, solid and consequently all through the song. No chance or choice. Love it or hate it.
DATE BAIT: It's like a steam train, there's no way to stop it after it has started. Remarkable harmonica work and great brass lines at exactly the right points.
YOU GOTTA HELP ME: Excellent playing and production, laid back and competent. Makes you feel hot and cold at the same time and gives you shivers. Definately the most coolest track of the album. The Blues Brothers couldn't have made it better. Very "US-ish" without being overloaded (I'd like to call this 'good British craft'). Each word is clearly sung, plus Robert has put some erotic vibe into his voice (well, that's what maybe a woman only recognizes). A true master piece of guitar work, Steve plays exactly what's needed. Not a single note too much, none too less, an impressive lot of feeling and dedication. There must be some "black blood" running through his veins... By the way, the solo was played in one take, without any over-dubs, he told me! Phil and Kevin are responsible for creating the perfect base to make this wonderful song what it is: A track which grabs my heart and touches my soul.
TALKIN' BOUT YOU: An old Feelgood standard, now refreshed and still cookin'!
THE WALK: Driving drums and bass. Straight forward. The very interesting and grooving arrangement has no reason to fear comparision with the Inmates' version.
29 WAYS: It's time for the gravedigger if you don't start shaking your bum on this one. It's swinging, grooving, jumping! Reggae-ish R&B. There might be 29 ways and more, but here's a No. 1 way how to put this tune into a new dimension.
WHO DO YOU LOVE: When Rock slides into the true Blues... Very exciting work on the drums.
IF WALLS COULD TALK: Rockin' & Rollin'. Sorry, I got no idea if the Rolling Stones also have played this song, but some of the guitar licks sound like Keith Richards. The brass section is great and the mean harmonica reminds me on the old Stones tune "Honky Tonk Women".
SEND FOR THE DOCTOR: Wow, this one is cool! The Feelgoods obviously were right in the 50's mood when recording it. Excellent work and a really pleasant surprise. Robert's voice perfectly fits the style, Dave Bronze has added a slapping bass to the typical 50's guitar licks, served by our own Steve Walwyn (IS there something he can't play??). Brilliant settings at the mixing board (thanks to Dave) has make this track sound like a real 50's recording.
KILLING FLOOR: Routed by a constant wave of bass and drums this big band alike track gives you everything. The total sound, a great brass section (featuring Frank Mead on sax).
SUZIE Q: Time to take breath, this one's the "sit down and start thinking again" song with a small but effective arrangement. A "Down in Mississippi" alike guitar plus the cutting but nevertheless warm voice makes this track what it is. Reminds me on a light but healthy and tasty snack.
DON'T START ME TALKING: F***ing brilliant sound, not just the voice (which sounds like being thrown through a NY Yellow Cab mike) gots it but the whole bands sound is smashing. A punch into the face, erm, ears! If the Feelgoods have tried to go back to their roots, they've done it. A true classic tune set into the Feelgood(s) style.
GIMME ONE MORE SHOT: With 140mph on the highway. Full power from 1 to 100 in 5 seconds, and no stop before the gas is out.
HOOCHIE GOOCHIE MAN: At first hearing of the album this track was my favourite. It ran in repeat mode for several hours(!!). An impressive track not just because of the very dynamic arrangement but also for the voice, which reminds me a lot on good 'old' Dennis Greaves, frontman of Nine Below Zero. It cuts like a knife and makes your heart beat. The break shortly before the end of the song only gives the illusion it's time to relax. It's the silence before the storm!

Resumee: A very good collection of old Black Blues classics have been reborn with the very special Feelgood touch. The recordings were done with lots of respect to the Fathers of the Blues, of course. The right mixture and arrangement of instruments has placed everything at the right time to the right point. And, at least, an album where it's possible to understand the words of the lyrics. "Chess Masters" is perfect for parties (haven't we heard this before, a long time ago?!?).
1000 Thanks to anyone who was involved to create this brilliant and outstanding album.

Gabi Schwanke, Official Dr Feelgood Website - Germany / April 4, 2000 / June 2, 2000

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Review 3:
"CHESS MASTERS"
First things first, it's good news for those of us who loved the low-fi rawness of the Dr Feelgood "Mad Man Blues" mini-LP, because the band's new offering represents the most uncomplicated record they've produced since then. This is a straightforward, no nonsense rock'n'roll record, and a far cry from their ill-advised jaunt into the realms of FM-friendly soft rock at the end of the eighties. Not only that, but there's something about the record that harks back even further to the original Wilko Johnson sound of the early seventies. Not contrived imitation though, just true to the original Feelgood spirit, but with the talents of the current line-up indelibly stamped all over it. What would have made this a classic Feelgood record would have been a set of original songs - I heard on the grapevine that this was originally going to be a double LP with some original band compositions - but that said, in these tribute-obsessed days where bands of all kinds are paying homage to their so-called roots, what could possibly be more appropriate than the Feelgoods giving a respectful nod to those artists whose sound has always been in evidence somewhere in every Feelgood record. Live, they certainly seem to be revitalised, so maybe a return to where it all began is just what the doctor ordered. Suffice to say, if I wanted a covers album, then this is it, and it certainly serves as an excellent appetiser for a future main course of original material!

The choice of songs could not be more appropriate, lovingly deconstructed and re-packaged, and delivered with some Canvey heft. The trademark Feelgood sound is most certainly in evidence in songs such as Chuck Berry's "Nadine", and Jimmy McCracklin's "The Walk" where guitarist Steve Walwyn lays down some choppy, stuttering riffs which bring to mind early Dr Feelgood staples such as "Roxette" and "All Through The City". New singer Robert Kane has a lot to live up to, as the spectre of original singer and mainman Lee Brilleaux will justifiably continue to loom large over every new Dr Feelgood record. Kane's predecessor, Pete Gage, adopted much the same tequila-soaked gravelly approach to vocal delivery as Brilleaux, wheras Kane's voice is markedly different, falling somewhere between Mick Jagger and Nine Below Zero's Dennis Greaves, and indeed he seemed ill at ease initially when singing the existing Feelgood repertoire live. However, he is given the opportunity to showcase his talents properly here on a fresh set of material, and he does so with some aplomb, from his gentle delivery on the haunting accoustic "Susie Q", to the positively belting rendition of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talkin'", the latter track underpinned by some crunching rhythm from Kevin Morris on drums, and Phil Mitchell on bass guitar. Other stand-out tracks on the album include the bluesy "You Gotta Help Me", driven by an subtle but unstoppable John Lee Hooker riff, over which Steve Walwyn solos with exquisite economy, and a rampaging rock'n'roll interpretation of "Hoochie Coochie Man" which positively bristles with energy, Best of all though, is the concisely rendered "Talkin' Bout You" which suggests that even if Dr Feelgood have re-written the plot slightly, they certainly never lost it.

Ed Grapes - UK / May 23, 2000

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Review 4:
"CHESS MASTERS"
Here comes Dr. Feelgood demonstrating just why they've always been celebrated as one of Britain's longest lasting blues-based bands. Dunno why they didn't think of doing these Chess blues and rockabilly songs ages ago - this stuff was made for 'em! The record is chock full of of savage, attacking guitar work - just as you'd expect. You can imagine how they use that edgy metallic guitar sound on stuff like "Nadine" or "The Walk", but there's a few surprises on this rambunctious little collection too. For a start, there's hardly any harmonica, except for a smidgeon on "Date Bait", and the songs we usually associate with the blues harp, like "Help Me" and "Don't Start Me Talking" are vehicles for some dangerously volatile guitar. And then to confound us even further, the old rock guitarist's warhorse "Suzie Q" is presented as a delicate acoustic piece! Songs like "Who Do You Love?" and "29 Ways" have just as much bite as the originals, and they also do a damn good job on the old Little Milton number "If Walls Could Talk".

This is a great covers album, Dr. Feelgood have just the right amount of respect for these songs, but it doesn't stop 'em jerking them around a bit and remodeling them in their own inimitable style. A great Dr. Feelgood album, but more importantely, a tremendous rockin' blues CD.

Red Licks Records Catalogue May/June 2000
(Source: Feelin' Good Newsletter - Issue 20 / July 2000)

 
Please also check additional Statements to the CHESS album.

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DOWN AT THE BBC - IN CONCERT 1977-1978 (Oct. 2002) - [Coverart][Booklet Info]

Tracks: Looking Back / Stupidity / You'll Be Mine / You Upset Me Baby / Homework / Baby Jane / The Blues had a baby and they named it Rock & Roll / That's it I quit / Lucky seven / She's a Wind up / Lights Out / Looking Back / Sugar Shaker / I thought I had it made / Ninety Nine and a half / Milk & Alcohol / Night Time / Shotgun Blues / You upset me baby / Down at the Doctors / She's a Wind up / Lights out

Review 1:
With 20 years having elapsed since the firestorm of punk first set hippie beards a-blazing, the late 1990s saw history finally get around to some serious re-evaluation: the realization that the bands which started the whole ball rolling were not American proto-snots from some vast Midwestern garage; that theStooges and the Velvets were unknown to most of the kids who were forming bands (you can't afford imports when you're young and on the dole); and that Dr. Feelgood kicked harder ass than all those Yankee squealers put together.
Russ Garrett, USA (Source: The Most Blueswailing YARDBIRDS - Forum, 22.Nov.2002)

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REPEAT PRESCRIPTION (August 2006) - [Coverart]

Tracks: Milk & Alcohol / I Can Tell / Baby Jane / All Through The City / Roxette / Looking Back / She's A Wind Up / She Does It Right / Back In The Night / Take A Tip / Down At The Doctors / Route 66 / Run Rudolph Run

Preview by Stephen Foster, May 2006 (excerpt from his column for local newspaper):
Earlier this year I was made an offer I couldn't refuse. It came from Chris Fenwick, manager of the legendary rhythm and blues band Dr Feelgood. He asked me if I'd like to produce the group's new album. I deliberated for all of half a second and said yes. It really would have been rude not to. The project, Repeat Prescription, sees the current line-up recording new versions of old Feelgood favourites. Recording took place last month at Feelgood HQ on Canvey Island and for much of this week I've been mixing the album with the band's bassist Phil Mitchell and engineer Pat Grueber at Pat's Gemini Studios in Ipswich. To say this is a labour of love would be the understatement of the year. I've been a Dr. Feelgood fan for well over 30 years and since the great Lee Brilleaux's passing in 1994 I've compiled seven Dr Feelgood collections including the 5 CD boxed set Looking Back. The new CD is the band's first studio set since Chess Masters in 2000 and I hope you'll be impressed with a total re-working of the Feelgood anthem Milk And Alcohol and a stonking new version of Down At The Doctors. There are plenty of other treats including a Chuck Berry song which I reckon has all the right ingredients to be a Christmas hit. I know I'm somewhat biased but Repeat Prescription will capture Messrs Kane, Mitchell, Morris and Walwyn in fine fettle. The CD is scheduled for release late summer/early autumn.

Review by John Butterfield, Middlesborough/UK (from Feelin' Good Newsletter No.44 - Sept. 2006)
Review by Rjt Williams, London/UK (from Feelin' Good Newsletter No.45 - Jan. 2007)

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DOWN BY THE JETTY - COLLECTORS EDITION (UK 2CDs 2006 - EMI) - [Front Coverart] [Tracks]

Reviews (from Feelin' Good Newsletter No.45 - Jan. 2007)

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External link to Reviews of Dr Feelgood Albums at iq451.com

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