Richard Hawley’s 28 Little Bangers: Album Review

Straight from the Hawley jukebox – what happens when you can’t walk past a record shop…

Release Date: 26th May 2023

Label: Ace Records

Format: CD

Imagine having Richard Hawley as your wedding DJ. His banter might be a bit dour and possibly littered with a few profanities (which is all part of the charm really) but having experienced a swipe at his record collection via these 28 little bangers, you’d be guaranteed some top-notch music. He’d maybe even stick on Hi Ho Silver lining before you go home too…

Meanwhile, this snapshot, collected on his travels around the globe, via friends, family, collectors and fans, word of mouth, thrift shos, pub jukebox gems and everywhere in-between sums up the man who “never knowingly walked past a record shop.”

He shares his obsession with the much-maligned 7″ single, filtering 28 tunes into a first volume (maybe the first of an ongoing series?) described as “not flabby but nimble.” A celebration of the art and the discipline of the 7″ single – using the space wisely and also having the self-discipline to play one tune at a time before flipping over to the B-side or replacing the stylus for another two and a half minute injection of adrenaline.

Now, there are a few familiar names; for example, rockabilly icon Link Wray, best known for his guitar sound (now there’s a theme…) yet we don’t get the more obvious Rumble, instead opting for Poppin’ Popeye. The Troggs B-side Feels Like A Woman, is not the only tune that’s preferred to the A-side, which RH denounces in typically blunt terms. We’ll leave the pleasure of reading the sleeve notes to listeners but do imagine the Hawley voice when reading his comments. Bobby Darin’s on the playlist as are The Shadows (albeit their “pagan side”) and we’re honoured with the scoop of being granted the privilege of the first-time release of Hornet’s Nest by Curtis Knight & The Squires from the Jimi Hendrix estate.

The whole set wallows in guitar tones, fuzz and effects pedals; Townshend-esque psychedelia, R ‘n’ B, jazz, garage rock; driving songs, TV themes and striptease music (or what it sounds like to RH). Ronnie Kae’s Swinging Drums (or indeed, Al Duncan’s Bawana Jinde) would be right at home in Disney’s Tarzan in place of Trashin’ The Camp, the relative absence of guitar balanced with the twanging tones of Rockin’ Ronald (another B-side opened up and another cavalier use of the apostrophe – Cuttin’ Out).

There’s an otherworldly weirdness – possibly a Gerry Anderson Sci Fi puppet series soundtrack-ness – about Ahab & The Wailers’ Neb’s Tune although having wallowed enough, the pick of the set might have to be The Execitioners’ Dead End Part 1 that relies less on the guitar and more of “the R&B three chord trick” and some fizzing organ. A sleazy and snaking little number from a time when things were monochrome.

And it’s these under-the-radar discoveries, rescued from dark corners, many of which have their own stories of acquisition; back stories that take RH to a time and a place, complete with the thrills of carefully scrutinising the labels (the majority unfamiliar although you may recognise the Pye and Columbia monikers) that cause the goosebumps. Coming full circle, he admits the inspiration and influence of Sandford Clark on his own singing, so when you return to Coles Corner or Truelove’s Gutter, bear in mind that the journey has been a long one.

Sharing the love, it’s like Richard Hawley has joined our Why I Love feature and made us a special playlist.He may have even written his name on the label – like you do – but the collection, as in the very words of one of his own songs, opens the door to a world of influences, inspirations and buried treasures in which to share. The release is, as it should be, available on vinyl for that authentic experience (although no need to be leaving your seat every couple of mins to flip the record over) and for those of us with a digital palette (and weary bones), we can experience the full glory in CD format.

These records have kept me on my surfboard for decades – you know what I mean?” Richard says; you can possibly even imagine the accent. Straight talking as usual and, heaven forbid, should the songwriting well ever run dry, we can take comfort in the fact that Richard has the alternative career of DJ or bus driver (see him taking on the Sheffield First Bus “Blockbuster Driving Challenge” – all round brilliant stuff.

Here’s Path Through The Forest, written by Pat Rollings (aka Clifford T Ward…)

Richard Hawley online: Website /  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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