Darrel Higham “Hell’s Hotel”
Surely there can be no one who has done more than Darrel Higham to keep rockabilly alive in the UK. Whether it be through his solo work, collaborations (our favourite being Kat Men with the legendary Slim Jim Phantom) or even bringing it to the masses with Imelda May. It is therefore always a joy to hear that he has a new release out.
The title track “Hell’s Hotel” opens up the album and it’s a brilliant track. This song, along with “And The Angel’s Cried”, has the expected retro rockabilly sound but alongside a more haunting tone. You can’t help but feel that the producers of American Horror Story would have loved to have had these available to soundtrack their most recent Hotel programmes. In contrast, “Turn Around And Go” is more upbeat and certainly benefits from the smooth background vocals of Imelda May to give it a wider appealing sound.
Something that sometimes gets missed is just how great a musician Darrel is. But you are reminded of that by the great guitar intro to “When You Smile”. That song is a brilliant upbeat fifties sounding number which will indeed make you smile. Another ‘Ronseal’ type title track is “In Summer”, a song that sounds like Elvis singing a Beach Boys tune.
Those songs can be contrasted with “Nearer To A Love”, a very poignant and heartfelt ballad which will get to the heartstrings of even the hardest of rockabilly guys. However, fundamentally, this is an upbeat and rocking album. Songs like “Save Me With Your Kiss”, “I Found A Smile” and (despite its title) “The Blues Is The Blues” are really great rock and rollers that will get you on your feet.
The fact that this album is great shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Although it is to Darrel’s credit that he has managed to maintain his high standard. You don’t need to take our word for how highly respected Darrel Higham is, just check out the fact that the legendary Robert Plant sings on the final album track! It’s fair to say that the rock n roll scene remains in very safe hands with Mr Higham.