Wilko

It took me a while. Looking though a box of horded records. They’re the sort of thing that seemed important at the time and some how got preserved. Really daft stuff like timesheets, the names of people and places that have long since gone. The Plessey Company no longer exists. The former Plessey Marine site at Uppark Drive, Ilford, now that’s the site of a B&Q store. GEC/Siemens launched a hostile takeover of The Plessey Company[1]. By 1990, the company name had all but disappeared and over time its parts had been sold off. It’s sad to read the fate of some great British companies.

Rifling through stashed personal papers is a Christmas break sort of thing to do. It has a reassuring feeling to it. Memories are fragments and some bits and pieces of paper help tie together roughly connected moments.

From January to May in 1981, I undertook an undergraduate training programme in Ilford, Essex. This was quite an excursion, or at least an opportunity to explore somewhere quite different from my student life in Coventry and nothing like my home life in Somerset.

My digging up a record of the past was for a reason. The BBC have done a review of 2022[2]. As you might expect part of that was a review of some of the people, we have lost in 2022. Quite a number of these personalities had their heyday in the 1980s. Ten minutes into this annual review is a clip of Wilko Johnson. He’s playing as part of the British R&B band Dr Feelgood. If there’s one album, I’d advise anyone to play, anyone who loves raw live music, then it’s “Stupidity[3]”.

Now, my recall may be fuzzy, but I remember seeing Wilko play live on stage in early 1981. Initially, I thought that was as part of Dr Feelgood, but a small amount of research shows that he’d left the band by that time. His stage act is seared on my memory. That electric stare he had and the robotic side to side run across the stage was just mad. Genius all the same.

I’m sure that I saw him at London’s Marquee club. However, it may be an oversight, but he’s not listed in the records of early 1981. I strongly agree with this site that the Marquee Club[4] is a real reminder of the days when club / pub music was alive in its richest shape.

When I write this, I’m thinking how dam lucky I was just to be there on one night. More than 40 years ago. It doesn’t matter it’s still live to me.

POST: BBC Radio 4 – Mastertapes, Series 2, Wilko Johnson (the A-side)


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plessey

[2] https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001gfn6/review-2022-3-we-remember

[3] https://www.discogs.com/master/105937-Dr-Feelgood-Stupidity

[4] http://themarqueeclub.net/

Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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