Wild Woman

Wild Woman Video
Imelda May – Wild Woman

In November 2008 I attended a concert by the superb blues musician Joe Bonamassa at the Colston Hall in Bristol. The support act that night was the completely unknown (to me at any rate) Imelda May.

Imelda Live On Stage

The mate I went with had seen Imelda on “Later… With Jools Holland” prior to the show, but I knew nothing of her at all.

I immediately became a fan – her blend of rockabilly, blues and jazz being simply irresistible (and her being so easy on the eye didn’t hurt either!).

Imelda was born in Dublin during 1974 as Imelda Mary Clabby. Her musical career began at the age of 16 when she began playing the Dublin club circuit. In 1998 she moved to England and began singing with Mike Sanchez and also Blue Harlem. Subsequently, Imelda met and fell for rock ‘n’ roll singer / guitarist Darrel Higham. They married in 2002.

No Turning Back (Original)
No Turning Back (2003 Version)

Imelda’s debut album “No Turning Back” was released in 2003 under her given name of Imelda Clabby. A collection of 14 rock ‘n’ roll tracks, including a duet with husband Darrel, “Till I Kissed You”. The album showed great promise. Standout tracks were “Dealing With The Devil”, “Wild About My Lovin'”, “End Of The World” and “Bring My Cadillac Back”.

Almost Grown
Almost Grown

“Almost Grown” recorded in 2004 with Mike Sanchez and his band featured Imelda on lead / co-lead vocals on half a dozen of the album’s 14 big band rock ‘n’ roll tracks.

The best tracks with Imelda’s vocals were “I’ll Go Crazy” and “Easy Easy”.

Talk To Me
Talk To Me

In 2005 the first of two albums with Blue Harlem surfaced. More of a swinging big band record, the 15 tracks contained some great vocal performances from Imelda – notably “Talk To Me Baby / Long Gone Blues”, a cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want To Make Love To You” and “Drown In My Own Tears”

Jump Jack Jump
Jump Jack Jump

The following years’s “Jump Jack Jump”, a collection of 14 further swinging tracks, contained covers of the classic Peggy Lee number “Fever”, Billie Holliday’s “Stormy Weather” and Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares For Me” amongst other great performances such as “Birthday Blues”

No Turning Back (Re-recording)
No Turning Back (2007 Re-Recorded Version)

2007 saw the release of a new, re-recorded version of “No Turning Back”. There was an extra track not included on the original version, “Y’hoo”, and “What To Do” was lyrically re-worked as “What Am I Gonna Do”. That aside, the main difference was the improved production and better performances from both Imelda and her band.

Love Tattoo
Love Tattoo

“Love Tattoo”, her breakthrough album, hit the shelves in 2008 and spawned the hit singles “Johnny Got A Boom Boom” and “Big Bad Handsome Man” during the following twelve months. Before we married, my wife and I were able to go and see Imelda and her brilliant band in Stratford-upon-Avon in May 2009, where she performed the majority of the new 12 track album, including the evocative “Knock 1-2-3”, “Wild About My Lovin'” (it’s third appearance, having been on both versions of “No Turning Back”), the title track and the fabulous jazzy “Smoker’s Song” as well as non-album track “Go Tell The Devil”. This last track showed up on Sharon Shannon’s “Saints & Scoundrels” album featuring Imelda and her band and is well worth seeking out.


In December of that same year, we were again fortunate enough to
see Imelda and her band at the Birmingham Town Hall. The band features Al Gare on bass, Steve Rushton on drums, multi-instrumentalist Dave Priseman, Darrel Higham on guitar as well as, of course, Imelda on vocals . Once again the show was terrific, a memorable moment being when during one song the spotlight operator had remained forcused on Imelda whilst Darrel played one of his amazing rockabilly guitar solos, leaving him in darkness, she purposely went and stood behind her husband so that he would be in the spotlight rather than her.


We had both been big fans for some time by the time that the next album, “Mayhem”, was released in 2010, and were eagerly awaiting a delayed concert at the Bristol Colston Hall that had been postponed from September 2010 to February 2011. Once again, both the concert, and indeed the album, were wellworth the wait. The new album spawned 5 hit singles. “Psycho”, “Kentish Town Waltz”, “Sneaky Freak”, “Inside Out” and “Mayhem”. Other hightlights of this 14 track record were the Darrel Higham penned “Eternity”, “All For You”, a cover of “Tainted Love” and the much anticipated “Proud And Humble” which had been a vocal tour de force in concert for some time already.

Wild Target

The album’s title track was used for the credits of the Brit comedy film “Wild Target” starring Emily Blunt, Bill Nighy and Martin Freeman, the soundtrack of which also contained “Johnny Got A Boom Boom” and Imelda’s version of “Going Up Country”.

Imelda May Gold Dress

The most significant track on the “Mayhem” album, from a personal perspective, was “All For You”. A slow and sensual jazzy number, with another of Darrel’s wonderful guitar solos, this proved to be the perfect number, musically and lyrically, for our first dance when my wife and I got married in 2011…

“Watch my lips while I’m telling you this
Yeah, it’s all for you
Every flick of the wrist, every swing of the hips
Yeah, it’s all for you

When I toss my hair, throw my head in the air
Yeah, it’s all for you
Every hook, every clip, every twitch of the zip
Yeah, it’s all for you

I’m spelling it out, it’s not written in code
I want you so much, I think I’m gonna explode
Watch my lips while I’m telling you this
Yeah, it’s all for you, all for you

When I move real slow, babe, I want you to know
Yeah, it’s all for you
Every bump, every grind, oh, I think that you’ll find
Yeah, it’s all for you

I’m spelling it out it’s not written in code
I want you so much, I think I’m gonna explode
Watch my lips while I’m telling you this
Yeah, it’s all for you, all for you”

– Imelda May

More Mayhem
More Mayhem

In late 2011 “Mayhem” was re-released as “More Mayhem”. Containing all 14 of the original release’s tracks, supplemented with a further 6 tracks, which included the single “Road Runner”, 3 other new tracks plus the single version of “Inside Out” and a remix of “Proud And Humble”. This release made the original album somewhat redundant – a favourite ploy of record labels in this day and age – but is still essential even so for the extra material.

Imelda May

Following the announcement of her pregnancy and some time away from the spotlight in 2012 / 2013 to have their daughter, Imelda and Darrel, together with the rest of the band, returned early in 2014 with a new album, titled “Tribal”.


Featuring 15 new tracks, the album was a welcome return, with no evident diminishment in the quality of either material or performances. Two singles were released, “It’s Good To Be Alive” and “Wild Woman”. Standout tracks on this record included “Hellfire Club”, “Ghost Of Love”, with some menacing sounding rhythmic guitar patterns and sublime solo from Darrel, the ultra sultry “Wicked Way” with sleazy trumpet passages and the humorous “Round The Bend” showcasing yet more of Darrel’s highly melodic soloing. Yet again, Imelda’s vocal performances throughout are outstanding. Another instant classic album.


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