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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


Elvis – The Sun Sessions
I think it's a pointless argument as to whether 'That's All Right' was the first rock & roll song. You could go back and argue that stuff by Smiley Lewis is like that or 'The Fat Man' by Fats Domino, which was recorded in 1949 – way, way before. What we're talking about with the Sun Sessions is rockabilly, which is very different and in a niche of its own. Some people say once you get past a certain few artists – Elvis, Johnny Burnette, Charlie Feathers – there isn't a whole lot left. To me, rockabilly in its purest form is actually souped-up bluegrass, because it's one acoustic guitar, a bass and something playing lead – either a fiddle or a mandolin. But rockabilly is a stage further on, with the addition of electricity. Later, in the Sun Sessions, I'd say that morphed into rock & roll, with the addition of DJ Fontana, because his drumming style sounded very R&B. He played drums like he learned to play them, which was in strip joints and sketchy bars. It's really sleazy. But the songwriting is just wonderful. There are certain tracks where you can hear the sweetness in Elvis's vocals and the way he went later on, but then there's stuff that just makes you want to burn a village. That's the shit I like!

I'm a big Elvis lover, I'm afraid. I can't help it. Like a lot of great artists, he made some colossal mistakes along the way, but this first explosion was like the sunrise on the label. It's listening to something so beautiful and raw and real.