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Darrel Higham

Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang

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Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang - Wild Youth
Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Wild Youth

Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Wild Youth

Rockhouse [1982]
Wild Youth – She Will Come Back – 56 Boys –  Tainted Love – Love Me – My Turn – On The Move – One And Only – Flea Brain – Should I Ever Love Again – Summertime – Baby Blue – Just Can’t Believe – Wow

Having left the Blue Cats in 1980, Dave Phillips took some time off before forming his own band. Still with Gene Vincent in mind he named his new band the Hot Rod Gang after the 1958 movie featuring the screaming kid. The first line-up consisted of John Day and Ray Thompson on guitars, Rob Tyler on drums and of course Dave Phillips on double bass and lead vocals. But it’s the second line-up with Mark Harman from Restless on guitar replacing both Day and Thompson that entered the history of modern rockabilly. Harman was the perfect choice, his fast Gallup influenced licks being the perfect complement to Phillips. The trio recorded Wild Youth in late 1981 and contrary to what the cover reads it’s Tyler on drums and not Andrew Wrightson who was the band’s driver (even on the cd reissue features the mistake).
One can suppose that the label (Rockhouse for both) acted with Phillips the same way he did with the Blue Cats’ second album (with Clint Bradley) hence the presence of many familiar cover in a more traditional style (Flea Brain, Summertime, Baby Blue and the Phantom’s Love Me sung by Harman). But there’s enough modern stuff to make of Wild Youth a benchmark in Neo-Rockabilly history, the best known being their cover of Tainted Love. It’s an instant classic that will have a lasting influence on many young bands.
Essential to any decent collection.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Dave Phillips

Dave Phillips – Rockhouse Mini L.P. Collection

Rockhouse Records – MLP 8420 [1985]

Brand New Beat – The Fun Of It – In My Dreams – So Now You’ve Lost her – You Don’t Want to Know – The Trip

I said it before and I’ll say it again, mini lp are often the best support for Rockabilly. It’s short, every number counts and there’s no place for fillers.
Dave Phillips’ mini lp for Rockhouse is the perfect exemple of that statement.It’s almost perfect and dare I say, even better than his debut solo album.
Once again one can hear the influence of Gene Vincent, with the covers of Brand New beat (imagine Vincent revisited by Restless of vanish Without A Trace period) and In My Dreams which is probably the weakest song of the album (but to his discharge it’s hard to compete with Vincent on that type of song.)
The four remaining tracks are originals. You Don’t Want to Know features Mark Harman of Restless (and former hot Rod Gang member) on guitar and is a rockin’ ballad with once again the shadow of Gene Vincent over it.
So You’ve Lost Her is a medium rocker while the Fun of it is a fast neo-rockabilly with breaks later covered by French band the Happy Drivers on their debut album and the Trip is Worth th eprice of the album alone. This fast modern rockabilly number (with a dash of psychobilly) is a modern masterpiece.

Dave Phillips – The Best Of

Rockhouse records ROCKCD8603
Tainted love -’56 Boys – Wild youth – She will come back – Love me – On the move – It was free – The trip – Every walk of life – I saw her standing there – Sunshine girl – So now you lost her – The fun of it – Brand new beat – I’m gonna die – I’m driving home – Boogie up roar – Pink thunderbird – Cat man

If you don’t have any of the solo albums of Dave Phillips or the Blue Cats (which is, in my opinion, a shame), you should definitely acquire this best-of album.
It covers the “Rockhouse years” of the fame double-bassist, with songs from the first Blue Cats album, the studio recordings (including the hit Tainted Love) and two live songs lifted from the Live at the Rockhouse compilation album.
It also shows that Phillips always had the best musicians to back him, Rob Tyler on drums and aces like Mark Harman, Paul Gaskin and Mick Malone on guitar.


Dave Phillips – Understatements

Kix 4 U Records ‎– 4U 3334
Rescue – Desert Town – Every Walk Of Life – Next Stop – Night Life – Paradise For The Children – The Trip – Room At The Top – Sunshine Girl – I Saw Her Standing There – Dancing Shoes – The Fun Of It!

Following the success of Tainted Love, Bert Rockhuizen of Rockhouse/Kix4U pushed Dave Phillips to add even more modern elements on Understatements.
Hence, despite having good melodies, most of the album is made of pop/new wave-influenced music with a modern production that has little if nothing in common with Rockabilly.
Nevertheless, a bunch of great self-penned Neo-Rockabilly numbers (The Trip, The Fun of it, and the Beatles influenced Next Stop) and two good rocking covers of the Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There and Buzz & the Flyers’Every Walk of Life, save half of the platter.


Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Look Out!

Bank Of Troy Recordings ‎– AR-92-1-33, My Way Records ‎– WAY LP 1223 [1992]
New Job – Git It – Goin’ Up The Country – It Was Free – She’s A Woman – No Comeback – Joy Ride – Ain’t That Good News – Handsome Johnny – Linda Lou – A Soft Growl – It’s Murder On The Streets

After going too deep into the musical experimentation with “Understatements” his previous album, Dave Phillips wisely chose to return to what he does best: ROCK! And what a better band than the original Hot Rod Gang (the faithful Rob Tyler on drums and Mark Harman as well as Paul Gaskin on guitars) to help him?
The result is a superb twelve track album. Some tracks a pure neo-rockabilly (almost Psychobilly for “It’s Murders On the Streets”); others are more traditional sounding. As usual with Phillips, there’s special care to write melodic songs (or cover songs with strong melodies), and he’s attached to add a variety of instruments (piano, harmonica, flute) to explore styles and moods. There’s even a slow, which is always a good point!
The only low point being the drawing on the cover.

Available here.


Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Good Thing

Fury Records F3035 [1995]
Good Thing – I’ve Just Seen A Face – Rollin’ Danny – Teenage Partner – Here Comes The Night – Linda Lu (Live Recording)

Recorded in 1995, Good Thing features Rob Tyler on drums and Darrel Higham on guitar. This mini-album features six covers. Next to the now mandatory Beatles cover, there are songs from Fine Young Cannibals, Gene Vincent, Hank Noble, and Ray Sharpe.
Good Thing, the song, captures the same vibe as Tainted Love. Phillips is as usual extremely at ease when it comes to singing Gene Vincent his idol, and both Here Comes the Night and Linda Lu rock (the latter being recorded live.) Surprisingly, they do not convince with their cover of the Beatles, which is usually one of their strong points.
The whole atmosphere is very laid back, and it benefits to the final result.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read our in depth interview with Dave Phillips here.

Darrel Higham

in Reviews

Darrel Higham & the Barnshakers – Pretty Little Devil

darrel higham

Goofin Records GOOFY 570 [1997]
Sweethearts Or Strangers – Don’t Be Gone Long – Pretty Little Devil – Flattin’ & Thumbin’

Darrel Higham recorded this ep in 1997 with the ever-excellent Barnshakers from Finland. That was not the first collabration between the British guitar picker and the Finnish Rockabilly band. Both recorded a full album together in 1993. Sometimes when two talented artists or bands join forces, the result doesn’t keep up with the expectations (I have a few example that I’ll keep for myself.) That was not the case here, this four-track ep is excellent.
Side one kicks off with a cover of the old classic “Sweethearts or Strangers”. Higham’s vocals and guitar give it a strong Eddie Cochran feel, and Lester Peabody’s steel guitar nicely enhances it. Next is a cover of Bod Doss’ “Don’t Be Long Gone.” Like the original, it’s jet-propelled by a solid slap bass intro.
Vesa Haaja, the singer of the Barnshakers, joins forces to sing harmonies for the Everly sounding Pretty Little Devil, recorded initially by Bob Denton and Eddie Cochran.
The last track is a guitar duet between Higham and Peabody/Jussi Huhtakangas. Well, the title says it all. It’s a gentle battle between these two great pickers. One can only regret that Deke Dickerson wasn’t there at the time of the recording.
There are still a few copies left on Goofin Records.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Mouse Zinn

in Albums/Contemporary artists/MN/Reviews/UVWXYZ

Mouse ZinnMouse Zinn – The Embassy Recordings


Foot Tapping Records – FT172  [2017]

Time Is Going By – That’s The Way – In Thoughts Of You – Searchin’ – Bar Hoppin’ Baby – Shush Don’t Tell ‘Em – Jealous Guy – Folkstone Skies – I’ve Waited So Long – Mooshataino – One Thing I Ain’t Got – Don’t Need No Star In Heaven

Is it still necessary to introduce Mouse? Well for the youngest: Mouse Zinn is the man behind Red Hot’n’Blue, the space Cadets and Switchblade. As you can see his name alone is enough to stir interest of any decent Rockabilly fan. And if I tell you that he recorded this album with none others than Darrel Higham on guitar, David Doel on double bass and Gordon Doel on drums (both from the extraordinary Doel Brothers) I can feel the excitment in your ears and in your feet. Having said that, I could almost stop my review here… but I’m a professional and I’m going to tell you a little bit more.
While Vigilante man, his previous solo album, covered many different styles, this one focuses on what Mouse Zinn does best: Rock’n’roll and Rockabilly. Three songs are penned by the singer, including the excellent “Shush Don’t Tell Em” that has a slight Gene Vincent feel and a new version of “Something I Ain’t Got” previously recorded by Red Hot’n’Blue on Ain’t Gonna Stop.
Higham contributed the desperate rocker That’s the Way and Gordon and Dave Doel added three more originals.
The remaining five songs are covers from the catalogs of Whitey Gallagher, Joe Fury, Jimmy Driftwood, Eddie Cochran (a rockin’ version of I’ve waited So Long) and… John Lennon (which is not that surprising after all, considering that Mouse and Switchblade already covered the Fab Four.)
After all these years, Mouse proves that he still has it and I would be more than pleased to hear another batch of tune from him with the same backing band.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Mouse Zinn

 

Killer Brew – s/t

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews

killer-brewVampirella MCG1020028 [1998]
Do Me Like You Do Me – All Night Rock – Shattered Dreams – Victory Roll – Trouble Bound – Wore Me To A Frazzle – That’s The Way – Special Brew – Who’s Been Sitting In My Chair – I Fell In Love – My Little Baby – One Track Mind – The Other Side – Shooting Star

All star rockabilly band featuring Darrel Higham, Ricky Lee Brawn (Stargazers, Big Six, Space Cadets) Helen Shadow (Queen B’s, Johnson Family), Anders Janes (Stargazers, Ray Gelato, Big Six, Space Cadets) and Pat Reyford (Sugar Ray Ford). If we are used to hear Higham and Shadow sing, it’s more surprising to hear Brawn but he does a great job too. Recorded at Ricky’s Valvemobile studio it has a raw sound and shows a strong Sun records influence with a couple of hillbilly bopper too, featuring Pat Reyford on steel.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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