I'm not going to waste anyone's time by reviewing in depth (check out Mark Barry's review for the nuts and bolts) something that's already been covered. But this 3 CD/1 DVD set, now at a lower price (much less than the 28 pounds--around $35.00 or so U.S.--Mark Barry lists in his 2012 review), is well worth purchasing if you're into stripped down, basic r'n'r/blues/r&b, played with straightforward unadorned intensity. The booklet has an essay by Wilko Johnson that's worthwhile reading, plus recording information, original album covers, and a number of photos of the band. Everything has been remastered in 2012, except "Down By The Jetty", which was remastered for the Deluxe Edition in 2006. I gave this 4 "stars", but sometimes when listening to this music, I'm thinking it's worth 5 "stars" because during this period they were a hard working band that stuck to what they did best, with no pretense to greatness or anything else.
The band (through the years 1974-77 included in this set) consists of Lee Brilleaux-vocals/harp/slide guitar, Wilko Johnson-lead guitar/vocals, John B. Sparks-bass, and The Big Figure-drums/vocals. Together they blast out their music with an almost unrelenting edge, honed from almost non-stop live work.
The band's first album, "Down By The Jetty" (also in a 2 CD Deluxe Edition that's great), set the tone for everything after it. The mono sound of that album is clean yet punchy for an authentic early mono-style sound that could leave you breathless. Johnson's guitar was smoking hot from the start, and Brilleaux's vocals and harp work are authentically visceral, while the rhythm section lays down an unrelenting groove no matter the tempo. But if you're looking for long (or longish) guitar solos, this isn't the band. Johnson's solos are short, sharp and pretty much stick to the melody of the song. His visceral riffage is from the "rock'n'roll" school of staying close to the song, rather than the later "rock" school when guitarists went off on tangents--sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
Included are all the band's studio and live albums from the above years, plus a disc of unreleased tracks that are far from cast-offs. But to get a good idea of what this band was all about, listen to the live album "Stupidity". Whoa. Track after track of in-your-face originals and covers. This brings to mind the live set "BBC Sessions 1973-1978"--another smokin' set with the original band and 8 tracks with replacement guitarist Gypie Mayo. The DVD is another real plus, with some great performances from the band.
Dr. Feelgood never caught on in the U.S., while in England they're revered as the ultimate hard playing, tough sounding working band they were. I've been a fan since I stumbled across a couple of their albums in my favorite record store, in what used to be called the "import" section back in the vinyl album days all those years ago. This CD set, when originally issued, was relatively expensive. But now at this low price no one who likes tough, no-frills r'n'r/blues/r&b has an excuse to pass this by. Nothing fancy--just great music played with raw intensity. Check it out.
And if you really catch the "Feelgood bug", look into "Singled Out U.A./Liberty A's & B's & Rarities", 1 disc of A sides, 1 of B sides, and a third disc of rare tracks and "extras" (including a 2000 live acoustic set for the BBC)--most of it pretty cool too--all with various incarnations of the band. And on that note, remember that the 2 CD set "The Complete Stiff Recordings" features lone original member Lee Brilleaux with a different band--tread carefully--the description leads you to believe that it's the original band. I also have to mention another adrenaline-pumping band and that's The Pirates, with the awesome Mick Green (who appears on Disc 3 with Johnson) on guitar. Check out their BBC stuff ("Shakin' at the Beeb BBC Sessions 1976-1978"), a 2 CD set of the trio (without Johnny Kidd) laying down some loud, fast r'n'r/rockabilly/r&b. With titles like "Shakin' All Over", "Milk Cow Blues", "Put You Cat Clothes On", "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee", and a slew of other great songs--they don't mess around.