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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


Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley
Like all these things, it's about who was first to the finish line, because these artists were all working from stuff they'd picked up throughout their lives. Bo Diddley's beat is 'shave and a haircut, two bits', which is like a children's nursery rhyme. And 'Who Do You Love' has no middle eight; there's a verse structure, but it's very African. It might even go back to the days of slavery and work songs. Chord structure is unnecessary, because it's all about the rhythm and the words, and the basic nature and ferocity of it. The number of people that made whole careers out of thieving Bo Diddley's stuff was unbelievable – me included. I've said it before, but if rock & roll is a temple, then Bo Diddley definitely built the main pillar. The cover, too – where he's stood there, legs akimbo with his white suit and bow tie on, holding this Gretsch Firebird guitar – is a stance of mega confidence. Every single song on this album was probably covered a billion times by every single beat combo then and beyond. It's a record that contains a small amount of information in itself, but its scope in terms of its influence is fucking huge. It wasn't like he'd got one idea, either. He wrote 'Ummm, Oh Yeah (Dearest)' for Buddy Holly, which was a three-chord Tex-Mex thing, as well as the one-chord groove, which he's best remembered for, but he was actually a really great writer.