Darren Hayman was a member of “Britain’s largest small band”, Hefner. Lo-fi, often recorded in one take and noticeably influenced by Darren’s art school experience, Hefner have provided background music for countless teenagers writing bad poetry in a lonely bedroom. Unsurprisingly they were also beloved of John Peel. Darren has been involved in a number of projects since, including The French, and most recently Darren Hayman and The Secondary Modern, who have an album out on the 15th of October. Check the website www.hefnet.com for more info.
I find it easy to like tunes that other people haven’t heard of. In some ways it almost defines my taste. I don’t really see the point in owning music that you are likely to hear every day on the radio or TV or in a shop. The other day I bought the Kate Nash album, I quite like it, its OK, but I don’t listen to it because every time I go out all I hear everywhere I go is bloody Kate Nash.
I know it’s elitist and snobbish to go to extreme lengths to listen to music that no body else knows, but I’m really surprised that more people don’t do it. I suppose for many people music is a group bonding thing, being part of a collective and singing along to Angels by Robbie Williams in a field (I’m not down on that by the way Angels is a fine song), but for many of my favourite gigs I have been in audiences of less than 20 people.
Consequently I’m going to try and not be too obtuse or contrary, partly because I don’t want to be seen as a complete tosser but also because I at least want people to be able to buy these things in HMV.
Dear Betty Baby By Mayo Thompson from the album Corkys Debt to his Father
I could have picked any song from this album. This one isn’t necessarily the best but the one that sprang to mind. Mayo Thompson is best known for being the leader of avant-garde rockers Red Krayola who have made 50 albums or something. This is quite peculiar for him though. To my ears it sounds like his trying to make a proper album of normal songs but has no idea of how to construct it. It really is beautiful and heartbreaking and all the things Red Krayola often aren’t. It sounds like a pop record made by someone who has never heard pop music before.
The Leanover by Life Without Buildings from the album Any Other City
I was privileged to tour with LWB when I was in Hefner. For a band that only did one proper album and who sold 10 copies it already seems they are going through a slow period of re-appraisal. Mark my words they’ll be in Mojo in 15 years time. You either hate or love the singer’s voice. My wife hates it, really hates it, the only thing she hates more is Prince. She goes round my bedroom doing a stupid un-prince like dance going; ‘Look at me, I’m Prince, I’m so sexy’ in a squeaky voice.
Country Road by Toots and the Maytals from the album Funky Kingston
Its quite an easy party trick to find an amusing Reggae cover version that somebody hasn’t heard, but in this case I do genuinely feel this is better than John Denvers version and also the match of more well know songs of Toots like Monkey Man and Pressure Drop. The Maytals are a band, which like Talking Heads and Sly and the Family Stone, I always forget are the best band ever. I can go a few months without thinking about them and then when I hear a Toots record I wonder why I ever listen to anything else.
Saved by the Bell by Robin Gibb from the album Robin’s Reign
Talking of Sly and the Family Stone, its often said that they had the first commercial use of a drum machine on Family Affair, though recently I was told Saved by the Bell beats it by some stretch. The sane muffled drum machine is on nearly every track of this bizarre, dense and emotional album. I could have picked any song from any Bee Gees album pre-disco period. They really aren’t the band most people think they are. They have really intelligent unlikely, observed lyrics and tunes that I would chop my dick off to be able to write. This albums is hard to get at the moment though, you need to Ebay the vinyl.
< I Got My Lady by John Howard from the album Can You Hear Me OK?
People in the know will tell you that John’s first album Kid in a Big Album is his best and they’re probably right, that’s where you should start. Until recently he had only released one album in 40-year career, now his released about 6 or 7, talk about a late developer. I’ve actually gotten to know John recently and he plays on my next record. He is as gay as a window though so I don’t know what ‘lady’ he’s ‘got’ in this song.