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Hefner - The Best Of 1996 - 2002

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 13 / 4 / 2006



Hefner - The Best Of 1996 - 2002
Label: Select Label
Format: CD

intro

Excellent compilation CD from London-based guitar band Hefner, who were at one point the biggest small band in britain


Hefner split after releasing their fifth album ‘Dead Media’ which found them for the first and last time experimenting with electronica. It was not really the place for them to go, as they had made their career out of playing variations of the Velvet Underground’s. ‘Sister Ray’. Most of the early tracks on this compilation have that familiar Reed/Cale rhythm, Hefner were vocalist and guitarist Darren Hayman ; drummer Antony Harding, (whom now records delicate Leonard Cohen fragile style pieces in Sweden, where he is now based under the moniker of Ant) ; bassist John Morrison and latterly multi instrumentalist, Jack Hayter whom added pedal steel guitar and violin amongst other instrumentation to the Hefner sound. ‘The Best of Hefner 1996-2002’ is the first of two albums which will be released by Hefner this year. A new rarities album and double CD called 'Catfight' will feature bedroom demos and material recorded for an unreleased sixth album as well as album out takes. It opens up with the A side of their first 7” single 'A Better Friend' which was recorded in Greenwich during what was only the second time of the band playing together. It is minimal in tone but the band jam well on it. You can already see several of Hefner's trademarks and Darren’s lyrical concerns coming into focus. Hefner's early songs and the ones that made their fan base swell were about London life and especially singledom. Darren's songs during this period were as important as the early output by The Smiths, but whereas Morrissey would be holed up in his room, Darren’s songs find him out shagging every woman available, and then using it for song material. ‘Christian Girls’ and ‘Pull Yourself Together’, the version of which here comes from a Melody Maker tape only version, are both so close to the rhythms of ‘Sister Ray’ that the Velvets could sue. Darren’s vocals make both these songs basic and lo-fi. ‘The Sweetness Lies Within’ is better paced with chopping guitars and develops a strong groove. ‘The Sad Witch’ follows and was a live favourite. ‘Hello Kitten’ tells of a time when the girls were obsessed with their Hello Kitty bags and is one of the many songs on here about sex. ‘Lee Remick’ which follows was their second single and is about growing up and family ties. ‘The Hymn for the Cigarettes’ and then ‘The Hymn for the Alcohol’ are great tributes to both and also involve a lot of sex. ‘I Too Her for Granted’ finds the band getting into grooves for the first time, while ‘Don't Flake Out On Me’ is a bittersweet, duet and sounds like a Drugstore number. ‘I Love Only You’ has unusually for Hefner scratching and samples on it, while ‘Good Fruit’ was a duet with Amelia Fletcher and was a hit for the band. It wasn’t, however, one of their better songs. ‘The Greedy Ugly People’ was a great live song but again on record again works less well. ‘Painting and Kissing’ is about how Darren met his wife and his courting of her. ‘The Greater London Radio’ is a tribute to one of the earliest indie stations which was at 94.4. It is still there but has a new name and now is sports and news based. ‘The Day that Thatcher Dies’ has a strong riff, a funky bass line and a great dance beat to it, but again worked better live. It ends with 3 songs from ‘Dead Media’ –‘Alan Bean’, ‘When the Angels Play Their Drum Machines’ and ‘Home’ and it’s easy to see why that killed off the band. ‘The Best of Hefner 1996-2002’ is definitely worth seeking out for their early material. This is a great introduction to a group who were at one point the smallest biggest band in Britain



Track Listing:-
1 A Better Friend (Original Single Version)
2 Christian Girls (Original Single Version)
3 Pull Yourself Together (Didgeridoo Version)
4 The Sweetness Lies Within
5 The Sad Witch
6 Hello Kitten
7 Lee Remick
8 The Hymn For The Cigarettes
9 The Hymn For The Alcohol
10 I Took Her Love For Granted
11 Don't Flake Out On Me
12 I Love Only You
13 Good Fruit
14 The Greedy Ugly People
15 Painting And Kissing
16 The Greater London Radio
17 The Day That Thatcher Dies
18 Alan Bean
19 When The Angels Play Their Drum Machines
20 Home



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