Richard Hawley – the overSpill…


Richard Hawley first came to my attention when his 2005 album Coles Corner started getting rave reviews, culminating in its nomination for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize.  A friend recommended that I give it a listen and I was instantly hooked.  I’ve loved the three albums produced since then and I’ve gone back and introduced myself to the three earlier releases.

If you’ve been concentrating you’ll know that I’m a great admirer of the melodic pop tune as exemplified by such popular musical combos as Prefab Sprout, Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab For Cutie, The Go-Betweens and many more.  But what usually appeals to me is the way that the songwriters in question manage the trick of making what is actually a highly complex composition, sound musically simple.  Richard Hawley goes one step further: his compositions really are assimple as they seem to be.

So there must be something else that makes his songs so special and it’s that mysterious ‘Ingredient X’ that I want, with the help of the Spill Massive, to attempt to identify.  What is it that appeals to you?  What qualities make Richard Hawley, with no fewer than six lifetime Festive Spill nominations, our official number one artist of all time?

All-in-all, we have a fine body of work to consider: seven studio albums plus numerous live recordings and collaborations with acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Elbow and Lisa-Marie Presley!  And those us of a certain vintage might also want to delve into the output of Hawley’s Britpop also-rans, The Longpigs.

So, here’s the plan.  I’d like those of you who are already converts to Sheffield’s finest croon-rocker to nominate a track or two from the oeuvre to represent all that is great and wonderful about the man and his music.  I will then put together the ultimate Richard Hawley overSpill playlist and post it sometime after Christmas for the edification of the class.  How could that not be a Good Thing?

I’ll start the ball rolling by putting forward the following for your consideration…


27 thoughts on “Richard Hawley – the overSpill…

  1. This is great – and a bit like the film studios bombarding Academy members with free dvds, muffin baskets and the like in the run-up to the Oscars. Don’t suppose any of the supporters of other albums shortlisted for the Spill Awards feel like doing similar posts for the benefit of those of us who’ve failed to come across them before?

    Obviously if you’ve already voted, this isn’t going to make any difference…

      • I’m sure I remember learning that muffin’ is a verb…..

        I’l look forward to the playlist, TB, as I’ve never fully understood the appeal (like Elbow). He seems to be a talented, sincere chap but I keep getting him mixed up with Mark Kermode (joke).

  2. I’d do a post for Liars but I just don’t have the time before 28 December. Tomorrow is devoted to clearing enough room in the flat for my catsitter (Rockingmitch, as it happens) to lay his head down and then I’m in the bosom of my family until late afternoon on 28th.

  3. Not all his stuff connects with me (will have to ponder why that is), but am partial to:

    “(Wading Through) The Waters Of My Time”



  4. Oh and “On and On” by The Longpigs is lovely (if you’re really gonna delve back that far – and if Mr Hawley can really claim credit).

  5. I’m with Chris here, just don’t feel it (same with Elbow). On the festive top 3s I have listened and quite liked Before, and on paper it would seem he should appeal, but it just doesn’t quite work for me, be interested to discover if there is a gateway song….

  6. Well, it was you that opened up the door to RH, toffee, so looking forward to this. From the same album, (Trueloves Gutter) I am partial to ‘Remorse code’. And we can’t have a playlist without ‘Just like the rain’

    I have tried in vain to track down anything of his Feral Cats incarnation (I think there was an EP given out at gigs). His love of fifties rock and roll might yield something to tickle Mitch’s fancy.

    As to his appeal, apart from the well crafted ‘melodic pop tunes’ (which I share your enthusiasm for) his syrup voice and languid guitar riffs grab me too (a bit like M Ward at his best).

  7. Great post. ‘Remorse Code’ is definitely my favourite but as that’s already been chosen I’m going to go with ‘Seek it’ which is one of my songs of the year. He is amazing live and if there’s anyone reading this who hasn’t seen him yet I highly recommend it.

  8. Regardless of the musical content I have a personal connection, or two, with Cole’s Corner. I grew up in Sheffield during WW2, Cole’s was the major dept. store in town, Cole’s Corner was where everyone agreed to meet. Their building was at the intersection of two main streets. My spepmother was Mr Coles secretary and then when I was in the RAF some tears later I arranged to meet my girlfriend at 6pm on Cole’s Corner one weekend, I’d been on guard duty the night before consequently I didn’t awake from my nap ’til 10am next morning! It came as a pleasant surprise to discover that there’s an entire musical scene in Sheffield with lots of titles relating to local icons.

    • Hi GF – that’s one of the things I like about RH – he is rooted, and loads of his songs reference his native Sheffield in one way or another…Truelove’s gutter was a tavern on the Don, and I guess you know Lady’s Bridge…

  9. I think “Cole’s Corner” itself is one of the most perfect, beautiful tracks ever recorded. But nothing else he’s done comes close to moving me in the same way for some reason. “The Ocean” was the other track from that album that I really liked. Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed and respected everything I’ve heard, and am very happy to have these Festive ‘Spill picks in my library – but haven’t been transported by them.

    So I look forward to being convinced…

  10. Thanks for all the comments and suggestions so far – I’m aiming to put the final list together in the next few days so let’s set a deadline of 28 December for contributions.

  11. There’s When You’re Alone from The Longpigs days, but every song on THE SUN iS OfTEN oUT is credited to Hunt.
    There’s another vote from me for Remorse Code; you can’t possibly omit Coles Corner or Valentine; you probably should omit Last Orders, as it’ll confuse the issue, regardless of how much I like that. I have a soft spot for I’m On Nights, and you won’t be surprised to hear me mention The Sun Refused To Shine, or Oh My Love, although my love of the latter is aimed particularly at this cracking live version.

    And that probably brings me to this year’s album. I don’t have it, hadn’t even heard any of it until a week ago, but from what I have now heard, I suspect that what I like about that live version of Oh My Love over the shorter studio version is going to be EXACTLY why I now expect to love Standing At The Sky’s Edge.
    Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

    • “Standing At Sky’s Edge” is my Album Of The Year, DsD.

      Although if I was allowed a second category of Live Album Of The Year, it would be the awesome “Celebration Day”, even though it was recorded 4 years ago.

  12. OK, I wasn’t able to do this yesterday, but I would also nom “Cole’s Corner” as an example of a perfect song.

    Two others I want to nom are “For Your Lover, Give Some Time” and “Tonight The Streets Are Ours”.

  13. Still fond of the live version of Hushabye Mountain that he did with Lisa Hannigan:

    [audio src="" /]

    Also his Elbow collabo on “The Fix”

  14. Just remembered: I really like Hawley’s take on the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Some Candy Talking”. (I can email it to you if you don’t have it and want to include it, toffee.)

  15. Pingback: A Richard Hawley Retrospective « The 'Spill

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