Going Back Home is the long awaited collaboration of blues maestro Wilko Johnson and rock-royalty Roger Daltrey. Dubbed as Johnson’s ‘farewell’ album due to his unfortunate battle with cancer, the album was recorded in just one week and features primarily the work Johnson did with his band Dr Feelgood along with numbers from his solo career. After the pair met in 2010 and bonded over a shared love of British blues music, plans were put in place to do something about it. However it was not until after Johnson’s diagnosis in 2013 that they got themselves into a small studio in Sussex, England and spent the next 7 days hammering out the best of Johnson’s back catalogue. And hammer it out they did.
The pair attack the collection of songs with vigour and intent, immediately noticeable in album opener All Through the City which adopts that edgy, raw blues guitar sound Johnson is known for, while letting Daltrey’s powerful vocals soar over the top. We seem to have found ourselves a good fit. Going Back Home showcases mainly Johnson’s classic hits, with Keep It Out of Sight, Everybody’s Carrying a Gun, and Ice on the Motorway all making an appearance. Johnson’s guitar stays aggressive throughout, and it’s good to hear Daltrey putting his own stamp on the sound. It does seem at times that The Who frontman has been given permission to take centre stage here while Johnson lends himself to the music alone, but his guitar cuts through just enough to be a worthy reminder of his songwriting and playing abilities, and when you have a vocalist onboard to the extent of Roger Daltrey, you’re in pretty safe hands the outcome will be more than satisfying.
An aggressive take on Dylan’s Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window closes the album in appropriate fashion and before long we are done. Overall it’s a worthy listen and a fresh take on Johnson’s back catalogue. Daltrey compliments the music superbly and keeps your ears wanting for that little bit more. If anything, lovers of raw blues music may find the album just slightly too polished sounding. It’s clear some work has been done in the studio to really tighten up the tunes, but this only add to them being a clean, fresh take on songs recorded some time ago now. If this is to be Wilko Johnson’s sign off, it holds enough gusto and enough raw talent to be a worthy competitor.