It's been one of the more remarkable series of releases in recent years. Audio Antihero, an almost absurdly prolific record label, not only had the solid good sense to put out the recent recordings of Jack Hayter, former multi-instrumental wizard with Hefner, among others, but to put them out in a 12-part series of subscription singles. It's been like feasting on the most sumptuous banquet, served slowly, knowing that the next instalment is going to be at least as mouthwatering as the last.
Now we've reached the last of the releases and it's going to be like facing the end of a beautiful relationship. The comedown will be difficult, though easier for knowing that this doesn't mean the end of the road either for Hayter or Audio Antihero. If this series has proved anything, it's that they both have such great musical sensibilities that there's bound to be plenty more where this came from. But that didn't really need proving anyway. So in a way, it's more an au revoir than a goodbye, though the gap between this last meeting for now an the next one will be, for a while, fairly unbearable.
It's hard to pick out highlights from the 24 tracks because there hasn't been a single weak link in this remarkable chain. 'The Shackleton', perhaps, which Audio Antihero also kindly donated to our Into The Light compilation at the end of last year, or 'Farewell Jezebel', which brought Jack back together with old Hefner buddies Darren Hayman and Antony Harding; perhaps 'King of the Shale', which I suppose I loved so much partly because its celebration of the great Ivan Mauger reacquainted me with my childhood speedway memories, the surreal whimsy of 'O Dreamland!', or 'Sisters of St Anthony' itself, which features an excellent vocal contribution from Suzanne Rhatigan and which I've been featuring in my Dandelion Radio show this month.
But there's a case to be made for Jack having left the best till last. The final single in the series couples the raw folk of 'Quotes' with the evocative spoken word track 'The Lab Technician and the Sexton'. I've decided to take the unusual step of featuring both 'sides' in my May Dandelion show, which will start streaming from Wednesday. Great releases demand their own rules, after all, and something great enough to provide such a brilliant finale to this amazing series provides an even better reason for disregarding normal protocols.
The whole series can be obtained from the Audio Antihero bandcamp site and they're throwing the excellent 'Sucky Tart' EP into the package too. Which is highly fitting for a series that, just when you thought it was as good as it could get, kept pulling out something even more extraordinary.