Monday, 13 September 2010

Ciudad De Aceite

Before I bugger off out to pastures disgraceful, I thought I'd write about one of my formative influences, one which might surprise a few people, but also one which might make sense of a few things to some of you, namely Dr Feelgood. Yes, you read that right. I fucking adore Dr Feelgood and don't care who knows it. Whilst watching Julien Temple's brilliant Oil City Confidential yesterday night*, it was pointed out to me (through gales of drunken laughter) that I was dressed identically to Wilko Johnson in his 70s prime**, and the fact that I took this as a great compliment came as a surprise.

Because if it's balls out, straight down the fucking line Rhythm'n'Blues with a psychotic edge y're after, the Feelgoods (with Wilko) are pretty fucking unbeatable, and compared with most of the punks they influenced, conveyed a genuine aura of reined-in violence and threat, the sense that at any moment all hell could break loose. And goddamn it, Lee Brilleaux and Wilko had, for my money, the finest stage presence and unconscious rapport of any frontline I've ever fucking seen, not to mention great fucking taste in clothes.

A pair of mismatched nutcases, one a teetotal speed and hash fuelled ex-schoolteacher (see the film for the extremely amusing stories underlying his exit from education) who played guitar like breaking glass, and a beer-sweating thug with a penchant for gourmet cooking who could sing the blues like he fucking meant it, unlike most of their 60s freakbeat antecedents, who sound like their balls haven't dropped in comparison (Keith Relf, I'm thinking of you in particular). No one owned the stage like those two, Wilko high-speed scuttling round the stage like a methed-up spider with the worlds worst unblinking thousand yard stare, with seemingly no awareness of anything or anyone else, all the while cranking out those cut-glass simultaneous rhythm/lead lines must have been a genuinely unsettling experience up close, and allied to Brilleaux's Canvey Island rasp, on the fucking money harp blowing and someone's gonna get fucked tonight attitude they couldn't fucking lose.

The fact that they had a rhythm section who could turn R'n'B into motorik and back again didn't fuckin' hurt. Bollocks, I have to go, so I will leave you with a fucking awesome version of their classic, She Does It Right, from 1975 (you may have noticed I've changed the clip, this one's just a bit more motorik, and Wilko bears an amusing resemblance to the latest Doctor Who, plus that paedo deejay on the original clip was making people a little queasy). More on this soon, I'm off. Enjoy

*It should be on BBC iPlayer for a week, go watch it even if you don't like the Feelgoods, because it's one of the best, funniest, saddest, truest portraits of what it's like to be in a band composed entirely of bored lunatics and drunks. A situation I am not entirely unfamiliar with.

**I was extremely glad that it was Wilko I was compared to, as opposed to John B. Sparkes, who looks like a drunk spoiling for a fight at a 70s wedding, and memorably referred to his stage clothing as a "bastard suit" in the film, causing both of us to collapse in more gales of even drunker laughter.

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