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More Of The Same Medicine, Please, Doctor,
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This review is from: MALPRACTICE (Audio CD)
I know I'm probably being paranoid but I was recently comparing the photographs on the cover of this 1975 Dr Feelgood album with its predecessor Down By The Jetty, and was coming the conclusion that, as well as the obvious improvement in the standard of the band's attire (with Lee's sparkling white suit being the obvious Malpractice highlight), it seemed to me that there was a portent of things to come as Lee and Wilko attempt to stare out the camera on the later album (signifying their separate claims to the role of band leader?), whilst Sparksy and Figure appear to be more content with their lot (which being the tightest rhythm section in the greatest ever R n'B band is, of course, nothing to be sneezed at). No matter, what's gone is (unfortunately) gone.
I have to say, up front, that whilst Malpractice is undoubtedly another collection of superbly vibrant and kicking rock and roll songs (certainly still meriting five stars), for me, it does not quite match up to Down By The Jetty's level of perfection. I can only put this down to a slightly weaker set of songs (and probably, importantly, three fewer Wilko compositions, six as opposed to nine) plus a rather muddier album production (which is somewhat ironic, given that the debut album was a mono recording). That said, Malpractice has four killer Wilko songs in Back In The Night, Because You're Mine (which was co-written with Nick Lowe, reinforcing the band's connection with the band Brinsley Schwarz, whose Bob Andrews also plays keyboards on the album), You Shouldn't Call The Doctor and (one of the band's greatest ever songs) Going Back Home, an absolute pile-driver of a number, which was co-written with Wilko's 'influencer' Mick Green and features the best recorded rendition of Lee's outstanding harp playing.
There are also two particularly outstanding covers on the album in opener, Bo Diddley's I Can Tell, on which Brilleaux's vocals are gravelly as it gets (almost making the song title indecipherable!) and Wilko delivers repeated (and superb) guitar breaks, and live favourite, Leiber and Stoller's Riot In Cell Block No. 9, on which the sound almost manages to replicate the band's awesome live sound and on which it is easy to visualise Wilko doing his tommy gun impression.
Along with Down By The Jetty, an essential album for the collection.