Wilko Johnson isn’t living on “borrowed time” – he just up and snatched the years away from the Reaper – and he has been rockin’ full-tilt ever since. The former Dr. Feelgood guitarist and influential solo artist was diagnosed with terminal cancer in early 2013 and wasn’t expected to live out the year. Instead of sitting around in bed, he hit the road for a “farewell tour” of the U.K. and then ventured into the studio to record the acclaimed Going Back Home album with his friend Roger Daltry; released in March 2014, it would become the most commercially successful album of Johnson’s career.
After touring with Daltry in support of the album, and outliving his doctors’ prognosis by months, Johnson underwent a radical eleven-hour surgery that removed his cancer and provided the artist with a new lease on life. At 70 years old, Johnson isn’t letting any time slip by…as he has been quoted as saying, “there’s nothing like being told you’re dying to make you feel alive.” As an illustration of his rock ‘n’ roll vigor, on June 15th, 2018 Johnson will be releasing Blow Your Mind, his first album of new material in 30 years. The album will be available on CD, LP, and as a digital download on the historic Chess Records label, which also released Going Back Home.
Johnson was joined in the studio by his longtime band – bassist Norman Watt-Roy and drummer Dylan Howe – with Dave Eringa, who produced Going Back Home, on the board. Watt-Roy’s rhythmic bass playing was an integral part of the Stiff Records’ sound, and he’s played on tracks by Nick Lowe, Rachel Sweet, Madness, and the Clash and was a founding member of Ian Dury & the Blockheads. Howe, the son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe, is an acclaimed musician in his own right, playing with artists as diverse as Nick Cave, Ray Davies, Paul McCartney, and David Gilmour.
In a press release for Blow Your Mind, Johnson says of the album’s new songs, “it’s tricky when you get to seventy years old, because what am I supposed to be singing? ‘I love you, baby, but you done me wrong?’ Come on! That’s kind of a problem. But I never thought that I’d be the sort of person to write songs about different sorts of real-life experiences until I got sick.” Featuring his typical mix of R&B and rock ‘n’ roll, several songs on the new album deal with his illness and mortality; evincing the black humor that is a Johnson trademark. “I didn’t really intend to ever use them and, obviously, I didn’t know if I’d ever get back into the studio. One of those songs, that’s a reflection of that time, about sitting around the house at night knowing that death’s coming; we’ve recorded it, and it’ll be on the album. It’s actually quite a cheerful one, too!”
Check out the album’s track list below and then order your copy from Amazon.com.
Wilko Johnson's Blow Your Mind track list:
2. Blow Your Mind
4. Tell Me One More Thing
5. That's The Way I Love You
6. Low Down
7. Take It Easy
8. I Love The Way You Do
9. It Don't Have To Give You The Blues
11. Say Goodbye