I'm in Hog Heaven - I really am. I know many fan's affections lie firmly with the original Wilko Johnson line-up of the mighty Dr. Feelgood (Britain's best Pub Rock and R'n'B band) - but for me the John 'Gypie' Mayo line-up was even more mindblowing than its superlative predecessor. And this truly fantastic jam-packed 5-disc EMI Box Set only hammers that home in spades. Here's the soiled beer mats...
"Taking No Prisoners (With Gypie 1977-1981)" is a 4CD/1DVD hardback book-shaped box set issued July 2013 in the UK on EMI 5099901954029 and breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 - STUDIO (77:45 minutes): Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "Be Seeing You" - UK released in September 1977 on United Artists UAS 30123 Tracks 13 to 22 are the album "Private Practice" - UK released in September 1978 on United Artists UAS 30184 Tracks 23 and 24 are the non-album single "As Long As The Price Is Right" and "Down At The (Other) Doctors". The A is a 'Second Version' and was issued as a UK 7" single in April 1979 on United Artists UP 36506 (the original mix is on the "Be Seeing You" LP). Track 25 is "Riding On The L&N (Demo Version)" and is Previously Unreleased.
Disc 2 - STUDIO (76:25 minutes): Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Let It Roll" - UK released September 1979 on United Artists UAG 30269 Tracks 11 to 22 are the album "A Case Of The Shakes" - UK released September 1980 on United Artists UAG 30311 Tracks 23 and 24 are their final 7" single on UA - "Waiting For Saturday Night" and "Eileen" - UK released October 1981 on EMI/Liberty BP 404 (with Johnny Guitar).
Disc 3 - LIVE (77:51 minutes): Tracks 1 to 12 are all Previously Unreleased - recorded live "The Paddocks" in Canvey Island on 10 June 1977. Tracks 13 to 25 are the live album "As It Happens" - UK released June 1979 on United Artist UAK 30239 (with a Free EP - see Disc 4)
Disc 4 - LIVE (68:59 minutes): Tracks 1 to 4 are the FREE EP given with initial copies of the "As It Happens" LP Tracks 5 to 11 are Previously Unreleased - recorded live at The Pavilion in Hemel Hempstead 18 October 1978 Tracks 12 to 23 are the live album "On The Job" - UK released August 1981 on Liberty LBG 30328
DVD: BBC Sight And Sound Concert Recorded and Broadcast December 1977 (Tracks 1 to 11) Top Of The Pops Broadcasts - 5 songs from 1977 to 1979 6 Video Clips for 6 songs Tyne Tees Television clip from "Alright Now" Program July 1980 The South Bank Show recorded June 1981 - Interviews etc
The peerless remasters are done by PETER MEW - a man I've raved about on many occasions - and an engineer who has handled hundreds of reissue products. The sound quality here is FABULOUS - punchy, great power and never too amped up to be over trebled. And the full colour 72-page booklet is incredible - full of adverts, single sleeves, live shots, memorabilia, outtakes from album covers - even the 4 discs ape the band-member Toby Jugs on the front cover of "Let It Roll".
Niggles For such a beautifully laid out and annotated booklet - it's a little sloppy in places. There's mistaken credits - two same catalogue numbers to "Be Seeing You" and "Private Practice" and a wrong catalogue number to "On The Job" (the right one is supplied above). And the mechanisms for getting the disc in and out of their clip positions is more than awkward. They even provide you with a page to tell you how - but I almost broke one or two trying to get them out - so I put them in separate paper CD bags for ease of use - and I advise you to do the same. But these are only minor irritations (worth pointing out though).
I saw this line up in Dublin with The Specials on the same bill - both at the height of their live power. It's a gig I rave about to this day. And I've lost count of the number of "Private Practice" copies I have on vinyl. How good is it to finally hear these superlative albums in truly great sound. I'd admit that the live stuff can become tedious after a while (as it did back in the day when we bought them) - but the unreleased tracks are fantastic - the band clearly relishing a second coming. And the DVD stuff brought tears to my eyes - so many great memories of a band I loved.
As Number 2 said to Number 6 in "The Prisoner" TV Series - "Be Seeing You". You're too damn right.
The absolute business folks - buy it and enjoy. (I've also reviewed the Wilko Johnson Box Set "All Through The City")
PS: There's an obituary in the Christmas 2013 issue of The Record Collector Magazine for John Mayo who sadly died (aged 62) in October 2013. RIP you rockin' genius.
When it came to making no nonsense white boy Rhythm and Blues in the '70's it was Dr Feelgood that were number one, obviously. Wilko has,I think, gone on record as saying that he never listened to the Feelgoods after he left as everything sounded like crap. This does an incredible disservice to Gypie Mayo who really was a fantastic, R&R and R&B guitarist. Sure, Wilko was a one off, and the whole sound of the band changed after Gypie came in but, really, what can you say about , 'Down at the Doctors', 'Milk and Alcohol', 'Sugar Shaker', 'In the night time', 'Take a tip', 'Let it roll', 'No mo do, Yakamo', '99 1/2 just won't do', and of course, of course, the absolutely peerless 'Shotgun Blues', among others. This is real high octane full on Rock and Blues, with style. Also includes an interesting, no, make that great, alternative 'Down at the Doctors'. Fully reccomended.
This is well worth buying for any fans of the band.The remastering job done on this set is fabulous nice clear sounding bass and drums and ringing guitar and no muddiness that marred previous releases by the Feelgoods on cd.I was really impressed by the quality of the albums included hardly a duff track at all.the packaging is a hard cover book style,2 cds inside the front cover followed by a nice colour booklet with history,pictures,tour dates and discography of the Gypie years with the final 2 cds and dvd stacked on top of each other in staggered plastic casing inside the back cover.there is a leaflet included on how to remove the discs but it is still a monumental pain in the arse trying to remove them from the plastic clips without scratching them and you have to remove all three discs to get to the dvd.the contents of this set are listed under product description so i wont waste your time repeating them here.suffice to say any fans of Gypies playing with the band will be delighted with this just be careful extracting the discs especially if you've had a few and Play Loud
The (sadly) soon to be no longer with us Wilko was the driving force behind the early Feelgoods and their main songwriter. His manic bug-eyed quasi-robotic stage presence and his chopping stuttering combined rhythm lead style (modeled on the late great Mick Green of the Pirates) contributed such a lot to the success of their early concerts and albums. Filling his boots was always going to be a tough job - but John Cawthra, a guitar obsessive from Harlow, did a great job in his own style, albeit renamed 'Mayo'. 'Gypie' Mayo's guitar style is more traditional, perhaps, when compared to Wilko, but he certainly is a fine guitarist who was likely to indulge in more solos than Wilko and more likely to stretch out in a more relaxed style. Check especially the fine cascading guitar solo in "Shotgun". Throughout this period the rhythm section bed-rock remained unchanged with the solid and unflashy just behind the beat drumming of the Big Figure blending formidably with Sparko's bass playing. Out front lee Brilleaux carried on in his own dynamic style, always giving 100% in every performance.
The received wisdom from journalists is that the Feelgoods were less of a force without Wilko because they had to rely on other writers. However, even with Wilko some 30%-50% of material was covers of old material or written by others. It is worth noting that success in the singles market was considerable with Mayo, although the albums sold less. Mayo tends to rather downplay his song-writing in the interview on the DVD, but actually he made some very worthwhile contributions - and not all of them fully credited. Certainly, I enjoy the post-Wilko material as much as what came before.
The first two CDs cover the four studio albums, the third and fourth cover the two 'live' albums, plus unreleased live performances. The quality of sound, is, as noted by the first reviewer, excellent. Although "Let it Roll" was recorded in an apparent rush to get some new product out featuring Mayo, and despite his not entirely positive comments about the material on it, I have always really liked this album. The first 6 tracks are especially great - my favourite being "Thought I had it Made". Whilst "Private Practice" has some very good stuff on it, including two chart singles (Mickey Jupp's "Down at the Doctors" & " Milk & Alcohol"), I feel that the other material is weaker than the preceding album. The "Let it Roll" album is smoother but with some real stand-outs like "Java Blue", "Put him out of Your Mind" & the previously mentioned "Shotgun". Nick Lowe's production on "Case of the Shakes" provides an entirely different sound with the drums very much to the fore. Again, a very enjoyable album. After the "On the Job" live album (and the title is not in any way "witty" as claimed in the notes in the booklet!), Mayo had had enough, fatigued by constant touring, boozing etc. In came "Johnny Guitar" from the Count Bishops and there is one single (two tracks) on here featuring him. They would make another album "Fast Women and Slow Horses" on the 'Chiswick' label, but after that the rhythm section also left. Very soon most of what was distinctive about the Feelgoods was being lost, so that it ended up with not a single original member - more a sort of Feelgoods tribute band.
The DVD is also a very fine document of their live performances - especially the BBC "Sight and Sound In Concert" footage. There's also TOTP appearances and two numbers of Tyne-Tees series "Alright Now" - check the 'head-banging' audience members (including a hairy Led Zep fan!). There are videos made to go with the singles though it is fair to say that the budget didn't extend far beyond a studio and a packet of Woodbines for Lee! They did push the boat out for hiring a vintage pink Cadillac in one. Melvyn Bragg gives the Feelgoods the intellectual seal of approval in an edition of the "South Bank Show". The interviews with US producer Richard Gottehrer (producer of "Private Practice") and John Mayo / Cawthra are probably for obsessives only - they go on for ages and perhaps could have done with some editing, though there are still many useful insights contained within. John could probably give Steve Howe a run for his money in terms of number of guitars - echoes of "Spinal Tap"?!
For any true Feelgoods fan this is a must - along with the earlier "All through the City" box set "with Wilko".
*The sad footnote to this review is that John Cawthra / 'Gypie' Mayo died on 23.10.13 - he had apparently been ill for sometime, which I am sure many (like me) were unaware of. Respect to him and thoughts to his family. This box set is a fitting memorial to his skill and contribution to the UK music scene. ** The somewhat cheerier footnote is that reports of Wilko's impending doom were too pessimistic - he's apparently clear of cancer.
Many people says that the Gyppie Mayo- Feelgood era isn't as good as the Wilko was. But I think that the Feelgoods had a lot of courage, and Gyppie showed a lot of nerve takind the place of such carismatic man. And, when the music is not the same as it was in their first records, Lee Brilleaux and the boys took a succesful detour to a more open influenced music, that could not be possible with Wilko. And this compilation proves that there was a lot of good music in this second incarnation of Doctor Feelgood. Long Live to Lee, Gyppie, Sparko and Big Figure!
For me, wherever you stand on the great Wilko v Gypie debate, it's fitting and really welcome that this era is so beautifully documented. This set hits all the spots, right down to the 4 x CDs adorned with images of the Toby jugs created in each of the band members' image, and the extensive booklet. It's also quite humorous to have an insert showing you how to get the discs out of the packaging - it is a bit complicated but hey, that's CDs for ya!
The book includes a reproduction of the tour programme I had from the Hemel Hempstead show that's part of this thrilling collection, which brought back good memories, having flogged my original years ago. There is also a good record of the Gypie-era output, and a good selection of photos. To my eyes, and despite my love of Wilco-Era Feelgood, the boys look very inclusive and together in these shots.
I have read so much about the Wilko / Gypie comparisons, and appreciate all the opinions. My 2 cents' worth is - being lucky enough to have seen them both - they were both fantastic, brilliant, unbelievably so, and in another dimension I would love to see them together in the ultimate Feelgood lineup... with that unimpeachable rhythm section of Sparko and the Big Figure, and of course Lee B fronting up.
A very well packaged set and well worth the investment. RiP Lee B and Gypie!!!!
The 2nd version of Dr Feelgood is lovingly recreated in this box set. Others have commented on the contents in detail so I will not do a repeat. I agonised about justifying the purchase of this set. However it is even better than I expected with some great lost tracks. The lovingly written sleevenotes informatively evoke this period of change for the Feelgoods. Stop Thinking and Buy This Great Box Set.
This was where I came in with the Feelgoods. I have since journeyed back to the Wilko ere and dicovered its many joys, but this rerally remains the music I grew up listening to from the band. It holds up superbly even now, and this box (book??) set really does them proud. The live stuff we haven't heard before sounds so good it makes you wonder why we never got it earlier, and the DVD makes great watching.
It may not be the most popular opinion, but this gets more airtime in my household than the great Wilko box!!!