Hefner has been remarkably productive the past couple of years for a band on indefinite hiatus. Since 2006, they’ve released a best of collection (The Best of Hefner 1996 – 2002), a collection of unreleased songs (Catfight!), a live show (Maida Vale), and reissues of their first two albums (Breaking God’s Heart and The Fidelity Wars, from which the name of this column is taken). A total of five CDs. Not bad for a defunct band.
I must admit that I’m not exactly thrilled by this milking of the Hefner-cow. How much of their sweet, sweet milk do we really need? I consider them to be my favourite band, but I haven’t been overly thrilled by all the releases they’ve been putting out, apparently sticking to the “more is more” philosophy. For example, their best of collection features five tracks from their album The Fidelity Wars and five tracks from their album We Love The City; these albums having a total of 11 and 12 songs respectively. So almost half of both of these albums were included. That’s a bit over the top in my ever so humble opinion, and it doesn’t leave too much left for potential fans to discover if they decide to pick up the actual full-length albums. Best of collections should generally not have more than two, maximum three songs from any one album.
I’ve also been both impressed and horrified at just how long these new Hefner releases have been. The best of collection clocks in at over 78 minutes – I thought a CD could only handle about 74 minutes maximum? This makes me worried that the sound quality might somehow suffer, but I’m guessing that’s not quite how it works when it comes to CD audio (as opposed to mp3s and other such digital formats).
There are plans to reissue the band’s other two albums as well (which would be We Love The City and Dead Media). Why the reissues? Apparently Darren Hayman, singer-songwriter of Hefner, had a falling out with their record label concerning some legalities. The end result, after a lot of struggling, was that he got back the rights to his own songs and recordings, so he is now reissuing their previous works on his own label – which is entitled Belka after the Soviet space dog. These reissues are two-disc affairs, full of extra goodies. A bit too full; all of the so far four discs that have been released contain well over 70 minutes worth of music each, a couple just shy of 80 minutes. The extras consist of EPs, b-sides, and tracks denoted as rehearsal or 4-track, with the odd obscurity thrown in.
I’m worried this might be a bit intimidating for new listeners, and they might even get turned off by some of the poorer recordings that are included. Then again, I might be completely wrong. But I really wish they could have had one disc for just the album though, letting listeners experience the full albums in all their glory as I myself did, not cluttered down by extras fighting for elbow room. Then the second disc could be used for the extras, removing most of the rehearsal and 4-track tracks, as they’re for the most part inferior to their studio counterparts and generally make for poor listening. These recordings could maybe be compiled and sold digitally online as a big-ass collection for the most hardcorest of hardcore fans (such as myself).
While I wish the reissues so far had been put together a bit differently, there are definitely some possible gems to be found for both long time and new fans. The reissue of Breaking God’s Heart finally let me experience the band’s vinyl EP The Hefner Soul! And it’s one of the songs from this EP I’ll be sharing this week.
As far as I can tell, this song is about killing your spouse. Pretty gruesome stuff, but it sounds great. One of my new favourite Hefner songs.
Unfortunately, there’s a slight problem with the reissue: the second disc, on which this song can be found, has a substantially lower volume than the first disc. Someone must have messed up somewhere along the line. Thanks to the wonder of CDex‘s normalize volume feature I’ve gotten the volume up to a more acceptable level though, but again I’m worried this might affect the sound quality somehow.
For fans of the band I’d recommend looking through the discography found at the band’s official website here. Most of the releases feature some remarks from Darren himself, with various tidbits of information. Did you know that the organ on the song “More Christian Girls” was played by Belle & Sebastian‘s Stuart Murdoch?