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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


The Velvet Underground – VU
It's a given that all the other Velvet Underground records hit me like a nuclear warhead when I first heard the band in 1980. It was Paul Infanti [singer with Treebound Story] who played me the Velvets first, at a time when I was listening to doo-wop and rock & roll and the minute I heard 'Sunday Morning', it was, "Oh, hello, someone's heard Dion & The Belmonts and Little Richard." I could spot it straight away, but it was what they were doing with it that was unlike anybody else. I adore the Velvets and always have and then, you couldn't really have a conversation with somebody about them, because there wasn't anybody else. Me and Paul used to sit around the table at his place, or at mine and try to write songs. It was through Paul's mum, Pat, that I discovered Tim Buckley, Frank Zappa, Velvet Underground, loads of weird shit I would never have encountered unless I'd met Paul. This record was often mentioned in hushed tones by adults – that there was another album – but the information was so obscure, I put it to the back of my mind. When it eventually came out, it was all remixed in the '80s, because either the original mixes didn't exist or they were shit. It's amazing so many of those bands with a big sound, like Hendrix and the Velvets sound so well produced, because with recording techniques as they existed then, trying to deal with distortion was really an unknown quantity. The analogy I use with the Velvets is it was like trying to force an elephant through a keyhole. When they released VU, there was this real horror it might sound like Duran Duran, or something. But when I heard it, it blew my fucking head off.