Released via Ace Records, 28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox does exactly what it says on the tin.

Compiled by the acclaimed Sheffield singer-songwriter, this essential selection of 28 seven-inch singles has been culled from his travels around the globe as well as through friends, family and collectors plus canny thrift shop and pub jukebox finds.

Culled from his own personal collection, Hawley dubs the songs ‘little bangers’ or sonic mini hand grenades. The compilation features a far-reaching grab bag of deep-cut rarities as well as big names including The Shadows, Link Wray, Bobby Darin and The Troggs. Prime amongst the tracklisting is Curtis Knight & The Squires’ ferocious and never previously licensed Hornet’s Nest, featuring a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar.

Richard explains: “I’m fascinated by the seven-inch single because of the discipline of it. A seven-inch single can only contain a certain amount of information. So, you have to learn the discipline of cramming all that information and craft into a short space of time. If you imagine this album as a piece of bacon, there’s absolutely no fat on it at all. It’s just juicy meat.”

Vintage Rock caught up with Richard to find out more about his latest passion project…

VR: There’s a unifying theme to the compilation isn’t there – they’re all seven-inch singles that form part of your personal collection… 

RH: It’s a varied and pretty random selection of seven-inch singles I’ve collected over the years. The only rule I imposed was they had to have been played on my jukebox.

VR: You picked up most of these songs in pre-internet days. So you’ve been living with the majority of these tracks for a couple of decades now… 

RH: Some of them for much longer – I’ve been buying records pretty much my whole life. My passion came initially from my Dad, but then I became a teenager just as the post-punk new wave era was happening and it took off from there really.

VR: Is your passion for crate-digging in record shops still as strong as ever or have you also given in to the temptation of online vinyl collecting?

RH: Definitely, I love hunting for records when I get the time. I also buy online, which is no big deal to me because basically a lot of the records I’m after I’d never find otherwise. I try to support record shops as much as possible, though.

VR: The compilation mostly steers clear of vocal-led tracks – what’s your fascination with instrumentals?

RH: It’s a different discipline to make an instrumental piece as interesting as a vocal-led song. The rules are kind of the same – pop music and all that – but it’s all down to the skill (in this case) of the guitar player and the performance. These are mostly one-take wonders made cheaply, often just B-sides or filler tracks for jukeboxes. Music without words can still speak to us in a powerful way. I think they’re beautiful.

VR: Has the dawn of the streaming age made the concept of the single more or less important than back in the 50s and 60s?

RH: I pay very little attention to the modern world of music formats because I find the concept of anything that doesn’t physically exist absolutely bizarre so I wouldn’t know. Buying a download is like buying a bucket of steam, really dumb.

VR: The Curtis Knight & The Squires track that kicks off the compilation features Jimi Hendrix. Sounds like it was quite a coup getting Jimi on the tracklisting… 

RH: I’m told it’s the first time the Hendrix family have given their blessing to release anything from that era of Jimi’s career. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s what I’ve been told. The Curtis Knight stuff has been bootlegged so many times and released badly with terrible sounding pressings, it’s nice to put it out with a large degree of care and love which it deserves. I’m very very grateful to the Hendrix family for allowing it to happen. The unique nature of it is the track (Hornet’s Nest) is fully unedited. That track was split between two sides of a seven-inch single – on the compilation it’s unedited in full.

VR: Your selection from The Shadows – Scotch On The Socks – may surprise a few people. It’s a left turn for them…

RH: They were a great band and Hank Marvin is a fabulous guitarist and a pioneer. They’ve been left out of history because they’re not considered to be ‘cool’, but I don’t care about all that sh*t – I use my ears and this track is a belter.

VR: Likewise for your pick from Bobby Darin’s back catalogue, 1968’s Long Line Rider. It’s a considerable departure from his early work… 

RH: He was a great songwriter and this is one of his best I think. It’s very political, which I guess was the hip thing to do at the time but it’s really edgy. It’s about prisoners being murdered by the guards and buried in secret. Not exactly flowers in your hair rubbish.

VR: We’re big fans of Link Wray and your choice – Poppin’ Popeye – is superb. Has he influenced your guitar playing style? 

RH: Anyone that plays guitar and hears Link Wray is influenced by him – he was a force of nature. I saw him live in Philadelphia when I was on one of the many tours of America I did. I saw him in ‘96 and there was hardly anyone there, maybe five or six people, in a big old-fashioned theatre. He played as if there were thousands in the audience, though, with passion and total commitment. He was absolutely brilliant. I met him afterwards briefly and he signed my ticket and was kind enough to chat with me for a while. It took me a very very long time to get hold of a copy of that single as it’s really rare. Any fans of The Cramps will love it – Poison Ivy, another great guitarist, lifted a few riffs in tribute from this single.

VR: The Troggs’ Feels Like A Woman that you include was produced by Roger Bain, who also worked with Black Sabbath. It’s eye-wateringly powerful stuff…  

A: Proof that not everything went to sh*t post-60s. First time I heard it, it totally blew me away. I couldn’t believe it. I only heard it because the guy in the record store played the B-side as well as the A-side that I’d asked him to play. The A-side is very forgettable. I love The Troggs, they were a hugely underrated band.

VR: We have a feeling this only scratches the surface of your jukebox’s contents. What are the chances of a second volume? 

RH: Well it’s 28 singles from my collection of over 5,000 weird, wonderful and some hard to find seven-inches so, yeah, I guess it doesn’t even make a dent as you say. There’s already talk of several volumes more. It took myself, my manager Graham and Liz and all the brilliant people at Ace Records soooo long to get this out, let’s hope we live that long!

28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox will be released on 26 May and is available on CD and 2LP gatefold.