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Baker's Dozen

Bombarded With Asteroids: Richard Hawley's Favourite Albums
Sharon O'Connell , February 17th, 2016 10:51

Before he heads off on a tour of the UK tomorrow, the Sheffield singer-songwriter and quiffsman takes Sharon O'Connell through the rock & roll, blues and rockabilly albums that shaped his early listening


Link Wray – Link Wray
At the time I first heard this record, 25 or 30 years ago, no fucker had a clue who Link Wray was; there were a handful of people who were aware of his existence. I think I got this through Barry [Everard] at Record Collector in Sheffield, after just wandering in, one afternoon. The first time I played it, it blew my head off. I didn't know that he could sing, for a start, and there was a surprising tenderness in his voice, which really struck me. And I sort of identified with where he was going musically, but a lot of the grooves on there have become de rigeur in disco, almost – you listen to 'Juke Box Mama' and 'Fire And Brimstone'. There's the rock element, obviously, but it was mostly acoustic and there were no amps involved – they were direct-inputting. It was recorded in the chicken shack at the back of Link's mother's house when he'd gone back home, basically. A lot of these '50s artists were really struggling at the time, trying to keep a hold of themselves and earn enough to eat, rather than go and work in the local petrol station, or whatever.

I met Link Wray in Philadelphia when I was on tour with the Longpigs. He was playing the same night as us, but was on at eight o'clock. I remember the band being pissed off with me, because we were onstage at ten o'clock. It was in this massive, really old-fashioned theatre and I bet there weren't even eight people there. He had a ponytail and a black leather jacket and these impenetrable shades on. He had this homemade guitar with the most beautiful sound and it was amazing – he was playing like it was his last day on earth. The drummer was Nick Knox from The Cramps, with this huge upright bass. I remember it vividly. Then after, at the bar I spoke to him for a bit but he couldn't understand a fucking word I was saying, because of my accent. I got him to sign my ticket and because I was on tour, I posted it special delivery to my dad. It never got there.