Wilko Johnson has curated a new album of vintage material from the famous Chess Records label, to be released the day after his autobiography. Wilko Johnson Presents The First Time I Met The Blues will be out on 27 May, with the memoir, Don’t You Leave Me Here: My Life, published by Little, Brown on the 26th.
Johnson is not only a lifelong fan of the label’s catalogue, but is part of it himself, since the release in 2014 of his collaboration with Roger Daltrey, Going Back Home. The album entered the UK chart at No. 3 and went on to be certified gold. The new collection features tracks by Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley and many others.
“When I was a teenager learning to play guitar in the 1960s,” says Johnson, “I first heard the amazing sounds to be found on the Chess label. Great music performed by a whole galaxy of great musicians. I thought, ‘I’m always gonna dig this stuff!’
“Now that I’m old I can confirm this – the kick I get from hearing it remains undiminished after more than 50 years. Here is a small collection of favourites from some of the finest recordings ever made – the music of Chess.”