NEW RELEASE BY AMERICANA VETERAN HATE IS A STINKER
by Hector "The Brim" Torres
When the pre-release for Bob Hate's new album was made available, I was one of the first dozen writers offered a listen. My history with Hate and his able (and too occasional) backing band is long and tortured. But I was encouraged by the liveliness and vigor in the summer suprise "Hate Town," released really just a couple of months ago, so I imagined that some of that same flavor would have lasted into another surprising 10 song disc. (By the way, 36 minute albums might have been de rigeur in the 70s, but this album's brevity ends up being a blessing.)
In 1998, I wrote this - in a not unfamous review - about Hate's gloomy "Better Man Than I've Been" album: "There are several moments when a listener will be encouraged to simply drive into a ditch."
That album is now sunny in comparison.
The pre-release title of the new disc is "Something Bad," and the jokes are just too easy.
Don't get me wrong. Hate has loads of facility, and his always aching voice appears lovely at times in these tunes. And there's a sheen of pleasantness on the tracks, especially the sorta funny covers of the WKRP and Mary Tyler Moore songs. (One wonders if maybe a whole album of that had been planned before the air went out of it.)
There are also 4 songs (all recast in various ways) that have existed in demo form from as many as 25 years ago, two each with longtime Eddy Band members Chet Hiss and Stephen Thompkins. Of those, "We're Gone" and "Lookaway" fare the best. These are both tunes that longtime fans will recognize, and there's some welcome spine to the new recordings that elevate them over most of the rest.
The 4 brand new tunes must have been written recently, or after a really bad meal. The depression pours out of the headphone in "Big Tiny" especially, one of the epic narratives Hate has occasionally succeeded with. Big Tiny, it must be said, should just put himself out of his misery. What he's doing with Melinda for 30 years is certainly a mystery the song never advances or addresses. (Melinda appears in several of the tunes; Hate apparently tired of the long list of Janies and Maries from past adventures.)
"Something Bad" is a minor key blues number that shows some promise, and "Savannah," with its bezerker tempo changes, certainly is listenable. If I ever get the pleasure of interviewing Hate again - a rather unlikely scenario given our last meetings - I'll have to ask him about the "train, train" chorus that appears in both "Savannah" and an earlier track on the album, wait for it, called "Train, Train." In fact trains appear in 5 of the songs. What is he? A hobo?
It was such a revelation when Hate and the Eddy Band re-emerged in 2008. There have certainly been some worthy and thrilling additions to the paired catalogs of music, but this is not one of them. If there is any new music from the fellas, let us hope some time passes to let this fade from memory.