Friday, August 31, 2012

Looking Back at Wilko...


Take a stroll to the bottom of this post and you'll see the cover of the latest issue (# 8) of Vive Le Rock, an edition frothing over with interviews: Richard Hawley, Kevin Rowland, Steve Jones, Wayne Hussey - also album, book and gig reviews.

Take a thumb through the reviews section of VLR and you'll find me holding up score cards for the New York Dolls, Suzi Quatro, Dirtbox Disco and Zoe Howe's Wilko Johnson biography - written in collaboration with Wilko himself.

Understandably with such a packed programme, editorial tweaks and changes were  necessary to keep to the word count. So, here's my submitted review of Looking Back At Me - and the published version. A tip of the titfer is due to all at VLR HQ for trimming it down, and, keeping the essence intact.

You'll also notice a couple of questions pitched at his Royal Wilko-ness, click on the VLR cover pic to get the rest of our chat and natter...

It's no overstatement to say I've probably ploughed through too many rock biographies in my time. Although only a handful are so supremely sculpted that they will stay with me forever. Looking Back At Me is one for this hand-picked library. Much more than the sum of it's parts - and larger than a life story, this is John Wilkinson walking and talking you through an oral and pictorial history (school reports, rare paintings/photo's memorabilia) of all that is Wilko: academia, anarchy, art, rock 'n' roll and carrying forward the tradition of journeymen blues musicians handing down their tales of troubles and travels.

If you've been lucky enough to have met Wilko ( I have, several times as we drink at the same pub) you'll know what you see onstage is exactly what you get offstage, an explosion of arm flailing, bug eyed-expressionism, intellectual theorising and raconteurism. Wilko isn't someone who knows stillness in anyway. There is no off button.

Zoe Howe's sensitive positioning of all the multi-faceted pieces that make up her study, perfectly renders Wilko's unrelenting restless energy and constant forward motion - she's pulled off the impossible trick of bottling Wilko's (smokestack) lightening. There's blood on the scratchplate, Canvey mud under his nails and the Thames Delta blues runs through him like a stick of Southend rock. Looking Back at Me is a stunning reinvention of the rock memoir format - a combination of compendium and confessional - creating a new standard which all future music biographies should measured against.


To catch the rest of our Looking Back chat - click on the VLR pic


As mentioned at the top the page, the New York Dolls blitzing new album Live From The Bowery is lent a critical ear in VLR - taste test one tune from it here....

New York Dolls - Funky But Chic

2 comments:

Guitar Trump said...

How cool that you've hung out with one of the greats of R&R! He's such an incredible musician and really seems like a genuinely nice/fun(ny) guy! My favorite song that he penned is "All Through The City". IMHO, it's his best work!

Can't wait to check out "Looking Back At Me". Didn't even know it existed until now...sounds like an amazing read! Thanks!

Mondo said...

Cheers GT - I've met Wilko a few times now, and played bass with him earlier in the year - check here.

If you click on the interviews tab, below my page header, you'll see some other muso chat too