|Cochran Connection Vol. 2 - Darrel Higham
Rockstar RSRCD 023
Brit Darrel is a great live performer with a superb breadth of material, including many rock 'n' roll and rockabilly classics, on which he brings his own flourishes. No slouch in the recording studio either, he now boasts a catalogue which definitely merits exploration and inclusion in many a rocker's collection.
That opinion makes the major assumption that SAO folk would want new interpretations of say the Presley, Burnette, Cochran Holy Grail of material. That's fine by me... I like to play the best of these newer artists and then swing back to the originals, on the premise that ya can't get too much of a good thing.
Darrel says these Cochran tribute recordings of his are the result literally of a labour of love and the originals were largely the reason for his pursuing a life and career in music. He says further that he tries merely to emulate Eddie's sound as it cannot surpassed or improved upon... "That's the mark of genius".
I heartily recommend this new disc [Vol. 2] on Rockstar.
These titles may be defined as more mainstream than the first collection, explained by the comment that the first explored the early years of Eddie's music, from The Cochran Brothers through to 'Singin' To My Baby'. DH says he approached the titles not so much from a carbon copy perspective as attempting the sounds almost as out-takes of the originals but retaining creative touches such as sax where there wasn't any before. He did however resolve to always remain true to the feel and groove of the originals.
For me 'Teenage Heaven' and 'Pretty Girl' are the best of a good bunch with the latter having some great tinkling on the 88s by James Crompton and one of those slam bam finishes we just love to bits. "When you say 'Frog'......." indeed.
The Jets (+ others incl. wife Imelda) perform well on backing vocals here and there and my only real grouse is that I could have done with more of Darrel's blistering killer guitar sounds . It's a matter of personal taste but one of my EC faves is 'Nervous Breakdown' and I wanted those low growling notes shaking my speakers but those passages here are taken by honking sax. Not for me but others may welcome the switch. I like the sax fine elsewhere - by Al Nicholls, crucially an admirer of Eddie's hornman Plas Johnson. DH's sleeve notes indicate that the version laid down of 'Nervous...' was as per Eddie's demo take, found at the Cochran house by Darrel and Tony Barrett in 1993.
The main man's guitar is often heard to great effect and the sounds on "Eddie's Blues" would surely have The Duanester nodding in approval of this "3:30 Blues" soundalike - maybe even ole B.B. hisself. Darrel whose voice is now surely at it's best, often sounds (even looks!) eerily like his hero. Has there ever been a better performer of the Cochran canon anywhere?? Intriguingly these recordings were laid down between Aug. and Oct. 2000.
In the album notes it's referred to as "the last instalment", but I'm hoping we'll someday get a Vol. 3 - kicked off with 'Cradle Baby', please Darrel.
For completeness, here's the track listing for the first Cochran Connection album, released on Rockstar RSRCD015 in 1998:
I'm Ready / Completely Sweet / Mighty Mean / Rockin' & Flyin' / You Oughta See Grandma Rock / Slow Down / Twenty Flight Rock / Have I Told You Lately That I Love You / Drowning All My Sorrows / Closer Closer Closer / Pushin' / Sittin' On The Balcony / Sick & Tired / Teenage Cutie / Sweetie Pie / My Lovin' Baby / Lovin' Time / Am I Blue / Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie / Drowning All My Sorrows / You Oughta See Grandma Rock
So treat yourself at least to Vol. 2 and other albums containing great versions of the likes of 'Wondrous Place' and 'High Class Baby' and try to catch Darrel on one of his many gigs around the UK (and abroad).
His site is well worth scrutiny at:
Reviewed by Colin Kilgour, 2004