# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Hefner - Steve Lamacq 24.03.99

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 8 / 9 / 2022

Hefner - Steve Lamacq 24.03.99
Label: Precious Recordings of London
Format: 7" X2


Late-90s cult legends Hefner release another beautiful BBC session EP which peels back the years

Having grown up in the UK, particularly having grown up in the late 20th century, it’s hard to imagine what the analogues are for other countries of the institutions we take for granted. The BBC to me is many things: The World Service, Radio 4, Children’s BBC (when both it and I were very young), CBeebies (when my son was younger), the BBC computer (and its place in modern British history – you can draw a through line from it to the microprocessors in every smartphone in the world, and another through line from it and its counterparts to Grand Theft Auto), 'Tomorrow’s World', 'Newsround', 'Monty Python', Chris Morris. Not forgetting Radio 1 and that station’s legends of my youth: Mary-Anne Hobbs, Annie Nightingale, John Peel, Jo Whiley, Steve Lamacq. It’s from the latter’s Radio 1 show that this Hefner EP is taken, comprising as it does the four tracks the band recorded for Lamacq in March 1999, four months before the release of Hefner’s second album, 'The Fidelity Wars'. The BBC will mean different things to you, and to the next person you meet. But what would the equivalent look like to someone who grew up in the USA, or India, or Mali? “What do they know of England, who only England know?” lamented Kipling. What do we know, what can we know, how can we appraise our cultural history while soaking in it ourselves? What is the equivalent of a band recording a Peel session, or a songwriter getting an Evening Session playout, or of a listener hearing Chris Morris’s 'Blue Jam' for the first time late at night, lights off, under the duvet and laughing harder than you previously thought possible? Then again, maybe we don’t have to ask that question about geography, because someone who is 19 years old now, as I was when this session was recorded, would not be able to experience music in the same way. The shows, some of the stations, some of the presenters I mentioned are dead and gone. There are different means now to discover new music or to listen to your favourites. This record, then, is literally a record, of how things used to be. A time capsule. A small fragment handed down to us from our past selves. This particular time capsule is glorious. The gatefold sleeve is made of heavy card, with Hefner’s name picked out against a blue background with a Battenberg pattern lining the top of the cover, and an especially 90s photo of the band against a tower block occupying most of it. The records themselves are sturdy, with one track occupying each of the four sides of vinyl, and similarly meticulously designed inner labels. The back cover also keeps things minimal, but the package opens up to reveal a detailed track listing, another photo, and some sumptuous liner notes written by Darren Hayman himself. Our copy also included a set of four lovely postcard print drawings of Darren’s. There are many cash-in merchants in these “vinyl revival” days, but we know that Precious Recordings are far from that – the opposite, in fact, fully justifying the £14 price tag. The tracks themselves show us a band at the height of their power. Hefner’s first album, 'Breaking God’s Heart' is great but wasn’t to Hayman’s liking – he talks in the liner notes here of “hurried soundchecks, sticky pub floors and hatchbacks full of amps and drums”. He’s not talking about that first album, but it’s true that the band’s worldview shifted after its success, and by this time, a year later, their eyes were opened to what they could do. Hayman’s liner notes talk with wide-eyed wonder of the BBC’s Maida Vale studio complex, where this EP was recorded, and it wasn’t just the best equipment or the best recording engineers: Hayman was growing massively as a songwriter, and the band were gelling. Two of the four songs here – 'The Weight of the Stars' and 'Every Little Gesture' would appear – in new recordings – on that second album, 'The Fidelity Wars', which was released in July 1999, four months after the Lamacq session. Another track, 'The Hymn for the Things We Didn’t Do', would appear on 2000’s compilation album 'Boxing Hefner', as did the closer, a cover of Jonathan Richman’s 'To Hide a Little Thought'. Those two album tracks are not enormously dissimilar to the finessed versions that would appear on 'The Fidelity Wars', but it’s nonetheless fascinating to hear the band working the songs out, and to listen to what were presumably works in progress. The songs themselves are every bit the classics that typify an act at the height of their powers. Hayman’s tales of domestic regret within small lives don’t seem to age a bit, and are every bit as relevant today as they were in the dog days of the 20th century. Perhaps the most interesting song here is the Richman cover, 'To Hide a Little Thought'. On 'Boxing Hefner' it was free of context, but on this EP it seems to suggest a through-line of influence from one quirky songwriter to another, and it doesn’t seem out of place either. You could listen to the whole EP and not have it be immediately obvious that this song, out of the four, is not an original. All this, then, is by way of saying that as a Hefner fan I’d have no regrets about this purchase. It’s nothing incredibly new, but the complete package is so lovingly put together, and the record such a well-kept memento of a different age, a different time, a different place, that it’s a must-buy

Track Listing:-
1 The Weight Of The Stars
2 The Hymn For The Things We Didn't Do
3 Every Little Gesture
4 To Hide A Little Thought

Band Links:-

Label Links:-

Have a Listen:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit


Interview (2006)
Hefner - Interview
Former Hefner frontman has recently returned with his first solo album. 'Table for One'. He talks to Ben Howarth about why Hefner decided to part company and the new album
Interview (2002)
Interview (2000)

favourite album

Dead Media (2011)
Hefner - Dead Media
Ben Howarth examines the case for Hefner's much criticised-at-the-time 2001 electronic-influenced and final album, 'Dead Media', which has just been reissued in a new double CD edition
We Love the City (2009)
The Fidelity Wars (2008)



Catfight (2006)
Enjoyable 43 track double CD compilation of unreleased material from much missed indiepop group, Hefner
The Best Of 1996 - 2002 (2006)
Good Fruit (2001)
We Love The City (2001)
Boxing Hefner (2001)

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors