Hard work was hardwired into Dr. Feelgood's DNA. They never left the road, not even after the death of their lead singer Lee Brilleaux in 1994. Nearly two decades after his demise, a lineup of Dr. Feelgood containing no original members continues to grind out gigs across the United Kingdom, a testament to the band's take-no-prisoners aesthetic, even if their presence tends to obscure what made the Feelgoods so special in the mid-'70s. It took Julien Temple's 2009 documentary Oil City Confidential to remind the world at large about Dr. Feelgood's crucial place in history, how they turned pub rock into something tougher, harder, leaner, and meaner, something that paved the way for punk rock just a few years later. Oil City Confidential told the story, but it's All Through the City (With Wilko 1974-1977) that provides the supporting evidence. A four-CD/one-DVD box chronicling everything that the original lineup of Brilleaux, guitarist Wilko Johnson, bassist John B. Sparks, and drummer John "The Big Figure" Martin recorded during their four years together, All Through the City contains all the vital music Dr. Feelgood ever recorded. They'd make other good records -- 1978's Private Practice and its hit single "Milk & Alcohol," for instance -- but this is the music that made the band's legacy, and it still packs a wallop: this is intense, gritty, hard rock & roll, its love of old R&B tying it somewhat to the past but the vicious vigor of the performances still feeling modern. This lacerating energy is best felt on the live performances -- their hit album Stupidity and the television performances collected on the DVD -- but their first two LPs, Down by the Jetty and Malpractice contain much of the same nervy spirit, conveyed by Wilko's slashing cubist guitar and Brilleaux's growl. On the welcome disc of rarities that concludes this set, some of the thought behind the band's evolution is evident -- an early version of "Roxette" betrays some deep doo wop roots that the group defiantly shook off just a year later -- but that only strengthens the case for Dr. Feelgood. They knew precisely how to trim away the fat, they knew what mattered: the hard angular riffs, the throttling rhythms, the sense of malicious malevolence that pervades even the love songs. All of that is showcased on All Through the City, a box set that captures Dr. Feelgood in all of their rage and glory. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Q (Magazine) (p.111) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'She Does It Right' and 'All Through The City''s fire and brimstone updates of the Stones' aggro R&B blueprint are all delivered with genuine menace."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.100) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he collection's big treat is a 1975 seven-song set for The Geordie Scene TV show. Here, Wilko and frontman Lee Brilleaux twitch and sweat through the menacing 'Keep It Out Of Sight' and 'She Does It Right'..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.89) - "As much as their music, it was their attitude that connected them to punk....As this terrific collection so vividly reminds us, it's the original quartet who wrote their name in glory, unforgettably."