What does it sound like?:
Well, go on – what do you think this album sounds like? I won’t lie to you – you’re not far off. From the outset, as the familiar trademark licks kick in and that Ringo-commensurate vocal wraps it’s way around the first of a number of possibly non-Novello Laureate-worthy lyrics (Blow Your Mind shares all of the penetrative post-feminist analysis of the female condition as The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls) you know you’re on familiar ground, and unlikely to be turfed into a parallel universe where Wilko Johnson’s Jazz Odyssey is a Sunday night FM staple.
I wouldn’t suggest Wilko has been tempted to fuck with the formula, but he has seen fit to tweak it very slightly, and his right-panned trademark guitar is mirrored throughout by a complementary left-hand channel bearing generous gifts of blues harp, organ, what sounds like a Fender Rhodes or, if the team are feeling generous, all three. Marijuana is a rollicking bumper car ride, Tell Me One More Thing has bubbly fairground organ bearing it aloft and by the time we get to That’s The Way I Love You we may as well all be assembled down by the jetty passing a Party 7 – only a passing reference to a mobile phone signal reminds us that, Toto, we’re not in Canvey any more.
Low Down has a neat Dury-esque narration in place of a conventional melody, but by the end of what purists and traditionalists might refer to as ‘Side Two’ a few – not fillers maybe, but possibly stopgaps – are being introduced. Lament is a lovely instrumental that invokes a stroll through a sun-dappled orchard (possibly more Dedham Vale than Thames Estuary) and might well have gone on for a lot longer than it is allowed to, but does have the air of something arrived at via the rehearsal room terminus rather than the central composition exchange. Closer Slamming – another instrumental – caters more than adequately for those who feel that Jools’s Hootenanny jam sessions don’t come round often enough.
What does it all *mean*?
It’s brilliantly played – many songs have intros which showcase the superb sound and exemplary chops of Norman watt-Roy and Dylan Howe before Wilko piles in – and has the great attraction of not only being a welcome gift for those who’ve waited thirty years for some new Johnson material, but as an ideal introduction to his work.
Goes well with…
Switching off BBC 4 on a Friday night and turning to one of those inkie journo auotbiographies they have these days.
Might suit people who like…
The Jam, Blondie, Television, The Ramones, Beer and fags.