Guitarist, songwriter, bandleader, stargazer: Wilko Johnson has been enjoying a long-overdue renaissance of late. Spurred on by his starring role in Julien Temple’s Oil City Confidential, he’s been touring solidly with his best band for years, while the guitarist’s autobiography, co-written by Zoë Howe, is due for release in May.
And now here’s All Through The City: a timely trawl through the early years of the band that made his name, during which Johnson and frontman Lee Brilleaux forged one of the great guitarist-singer double acts of the 70s, inspiring everyone from The Clash to Blondie in the process. The bulk of the set comprises remastered versions of the band’s first four albums: just over two years’ worth of taut, twitchy originals (She Does It Right, Paradise) and full-blooded renditions of R&B classics (Boom Boom, Riot In Cell Block No 9). The centrepiece, still, is Stupidity, the blistering No 1 live album that remains the Feelgoods’ defining work, capturing Brilleaux, Wilko, bassist John B Sparks and drummer The Big Figure at the peak of their powers.
The third and final disc offers the customary mix of live cuts and rarities, including three tracks recorded with The Pirates’ Mick Green, while the DVD is packed full of vintage TV appearances and live footage. The sleevenotes offer further illumination in the form of evocative reminiscences by poet and journalist Hugo Williams, along with some suitably idiosyncratic commentary by Wilko himself.