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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


Various – The Blues Came Down From Memphis
The cover of this compilation has six labels and all of them are Sun. It's well documented now, with Elvis and the like, but when you delve back into Sam Phillips' early stuff, which is what this represents, he was recording these incredible blues players from all over the Memphis delta and further afield. What this record represents to me is the change from one world to another. The electric guitar and amplification were only used by a lot of these urban musicians purely because they weren't playing in tiny little juke joints in the middle of a cotton field, where an acoustic guitar or piano and stomping your feet was enough. They had to heard right at the back of a room, so that simple fact of playing bigger and louder places went hand-in-hand with the use of the electric guitar and the amp.

There's a lot on here that's just… [sighs with amazement] like 'Time Has Made A Change', by Jimmy DeBerry, who even clears his throat half way through on that track. I think he might even spit on the floor. He's an artist so colossally unaware of what he's doing; he's just sat in a room, being a human being. It's very natural and unselfconscious. Then you get stuff like 'Tiger Man' by Rufus Thomas, which Elvis later did in his big Las Vegas shows. That and 'Cotton Crop Blues' by James Cotton feature a guitar player called Pat Hare, who recorded a song called 'I'm Gonna Murder My Baby' for Sam Phillips and two months after that, he did that very thing and he died in Memphis penitentiary. But there's a very short hop and skip from his guitar playing to Jimmy Page; it's fucking vicious – just a four-watt amp turned up to the absolute max. This compilation is a great showcase of Sam Phillips' commitment to the music around him and documents a really big change that was happening at a certain point in America's history.