Dr. Feelgood – Down by the Jetty

December 26, 2008 at 2:20 pm (Uncategorized)


Down by the Jetty cover

Canvey Island is a reclaimed island with a population of 37,000 about 40 miles east of London. It formerly boasted a sizable petrochemical plant, but which is now in part a nature reserve. It was also the home town of the “best local world in the world,” Dr. Feelgood.

Dr. Feelgood  formed in 1971 and played fast, angry R&B. These were the days when R&BN actually meant rhythm and blues, rather than soul influenced pop music. A glance at their 1975 debut Down by the Jetty shows four men in cheap suits looking like London thugs. Behind them water and an industrial transport. Black and white.

The Feelgoods’ first album was recorded in mono. Produced by Vic Maile the sound is sparse and gritty. Rather than studio overdubs, the album was essentially recorded live in the studio. The singer Lee Brilleaux growls out the words. Guitarist Wilko Johnson spits out choppy chords in an admitted imitation of Pirates’ guitarist Johnny Green (although Wilko’s style inspired many). Bass and drums tight.  

There’s a clip of Roxette from the Old Grey Whistle Test from 1975. Wilko stalks the stage, menacingly. Pre-punk, yet it foreshadowed much of what  was to come.  At a famous 1975 party in New York, attended by Johnny Thunders, Talking Heads, the Ramones, Blondie and others, it was Down by ther Jetty which was played over and over.

In 2006, EMI re-issued the album as a double CD. The first CD contains the original mono along with five bonus tracks. The second CD has a stereo version. Interesting, but it diffused the tension somewhat. There are eleven bonus tracks including seven live ones. The package is completed with a booklet with notes from Will Birch who played in the Kursaal Flyers and the Records, and wrote a great book about the pub rock scene No Sleep Till Canvey Island. A forgotten classic. A great record. Well worth the investment.


  1. Music Notes May 2009 « Notes from Underground said,

    […] thrilled to his films about the Sex Pistols and Joe Strummer will no doubt like this one too. Dr. Feelgood were one of the great pre-punk bands: Lee Brilleaux on gruff vocals and harmonica, Wilko Johnson on […]

  2. Music Notes July 2010 « Notes from Underground said,

    […] old compilation, but good to have. Wilko was the original guitarist and main songwriter in Dr. Feelgood. A good selection of songs from his career here. Check out this version of Roxette from the Old […]

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