Darren Hayman Records, HEFCD 02 ***
Hefner probably released more records between 1996 and 2002 than just anyone you can think of (five albums and 22 singles and eps apparently), but even after all that there's still more in the can that Hefner mainman Darren Hayman wants us to hear.
So what we get here is a two cd set that opens with what would have formed the basis of their sixth album, followed by lots of previously unreleased songs that works backwards from this finale to their scratchy beginnings.
Unfortunately, there's just too much here - there's 43 tracks in all - which is a shame, because this would have seemed an altogether more enticing proposition if Hayman had exercised more quality control.
It certainly opens strongly with the excellent love-song-ofa-sort The Pines, which is followed by Gabriel In The Airport with its great "Don't you wish that you could say you'd never thought of Kate Bush in a dirty way" line delivered in a clipped Steve Harley-like voice, and Anne And Bill which has a delicious extended outro.
Of the rest of the material earmarked for that final album, I'm Not Surprised deserves a mention for it's lovely 60s chorus, but although there's a n umber of other decent moments on disc one such as the electronic instrumental Hymn For The 1950s Folk Revival, the old ska fave Monkey Man and a cover of the Human League's forgotten hit, Louise, the second disc with its early lo-fi demos is probably over-egging the pudding.
The Girl With The Loneliest Futon In Bethnal Green might appeal to those of us who like an amusing long title, but like a lot of the material on the second disc, it doesn't really warrant this belated appearance.
Indeed, Hayman says in the sleeve-notes that he thought long and hard about releasing all this extra stuff on disc 2.
Now I'm sure there are some Hefner completists out there who will want to thank him for getting all this material out there, but whilst recognising that Hayman is clearly a talented songwriter who has a definite way with words, I certainly wouldn't have objected to a spot of pruning here and there myself.