CD review: Going Back Home by Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey
Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey Going Back Home (Chess) ****
Going Back Home will almost certainly be Wilko Johnson’s last album. The much-loved Dr Feelgood guitarist was diagnosed with cancer in January 2013, but happily he has fought on long enough to make this gutsy rhythm ‘n’ blues record with Daltrey. The project was first mooted in 2010 when the pair bonded over their love for Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, rockers from the 1950s. When Daltrey finished a world tour with The Who last year and a gap in his diary finally appeared, Johnson’s illness ruled out further procrastination. Comprising 10 remakes of Johnson songs and a cover of Bob Dylan’s Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window, the album is poignant though not sentimental. Lusty harmonica and Johnson’s razor-wire Telecaster riffs distinguish raucous standouts such as the title track and I Keep it to Myself, and Daltrey thrives on the music’s raw immediacy. The glance in the rear-view that is Johnson’s ballad Turned 21 is inevitably affecting, but much of Going Back Home chimes with Dylan Thomas’s entreaty to “rage against the dying of the light”. Johnson continues to do so; he played a benefit for Pancreatic Cancer UK in London last week.