As he emerged the clear star of Julien Temple’s Oil City Confidential, the world clearly needed to hear more from Wilko Johnson. With Looking Back At Me, a fabulous take on the rock’n’roll autobiography, you get to hear plenty.
This handsome coffee table book does the mercurial ex-Dr Feelgood guitarist and writer great justice. Slits biographer Zoë Howe captures him in full flight: her trick has been to not edit the Wilkoisms, so the whole book reads as if Johnson is speaking directly to you in his uniquely mannered English. With unparalleled access to his archive, we not only get his life story, but an intimate dip into his paintings, dozens of previously unseen photographs and memorabilia. The Feelgood/Blockheads/solo story is unmistakably at its centre, but we also have Wilko’s views on art, Canvey Island, Shakespeare, astronomy, and the charms of Southend’s seafront, among many other wonderfully tangential moments.
Looking Back At Me is a book to enjoy even if you’ve never heard a note of Wilko’s music; it can’t be long before he’s popping up on Question Time or an equivalent. With this, EMI’s new Feelgood box set and Oil City Confidential itself, Johnson’s place in UK’s musical history is assured. Tremendous fun.