Ghost Of Love, Darrel Higham
Hunka Burnin' Records CD001
  

Reviewed by Geoff Barker, December 2001

Darrel Higham is probably the best-kept secret on the UK music scene. Except of course to his own legion of fans, which includes myself. He's got everything going for him; plays killer guitar, writes great songs, has a superb voice and a cool image. So why is he still not more widely known? The answer is sadly simple; He plays hard-edged rockabilly, which has given him one heck of a task getting beyond the prejudices of A&R people looking for the next cloned 'boy-band' and a media who never give this music the respect it deserves, whilst devoting pages to far-lesser talents, in every other genre. They may regard rock 'n' roll as 'retro', played by social-club bands re-cycling Rock Around The Clock, or faded cabaret stars prancing around in dayglo Teddy-Boy suits, but nothing could be further from the truth and this CD is the real deal... 21st Century rockabilly. Recorded for today, but without trampling on the legacy of the legends of the music: Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette and Gene Vincent.

I became aware of Darrel whilst broadcasting from the first UK Eddie Cochran Music Festival in 1995. I saw a young guy of superb talent, playing a guitar that put him alongside Albert Lee and Dave Edmunds. Since then, he's become the brightest star on the UK rock 'n' roll scene and it's frustrating beyond belief that the world at large hasn't seen this too. Incredibly, Ghost Of Love is Darrers ninth solo CD, whilst his musical skills have been heard on a host of albums by his fellow artistes. He has played for American legends Billy Lee Riley and Sonny Burgess and worked with Johnny Burnette's equally wild son, Rocky. He appeared in the London Elvis show, recorded with Jeff Beck and Chrissie Hynde and toured the UK playing guitar for Shakin' Stevens and Jerry Lee's sister, Linda Gail Lewis. He recently co-authored the definitive biography of his great hero, Eddie Cochran.

Ghost Of Love is definitely Darrel's most adventurous album and sees his regular hot band the Entorcers, augmented by some equally fine musicians. It's also a brave album, aimed to appeal not just to his own fans, but to non-believers elsewhere. A clutch of great, original songs, mixing rockabilly, country, blues and a bit of pop... but staying faithful to his musical heritage. There is no sell-out here! The title track sets the scene and wouldn't Johnny Cash love to get his hands on that one? Johnny and Dorsey is a fine tribute to the Burnette brothers and Just Like Schooldays has all the wry social-comment that Eddie himself would have been proud of. Maybe Just Maybe could easily be a country hit, There's Always Me is one of the most commercial things he's ever done and for an example of why he's one of the best guitar-pickers around, try A Scary Story. But for me, So Think Twice epitomises what Darrel is now trying to do and demands that ears be opened to this guy. He's been a ceaseless ambassador for rock 'n' roll and both he and the music are long overdue for critical respect and wider recognition. We are talking about the music that started it all, for goodness sake! Play this album, spread the word... Darrel Higham should be a secret no longer.

Reviewed by Geoff Barker, December 2001

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