R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner - I Hate People / I H8 Ppl (1978 and 2017)
Earlier this year, R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner - two of our absolute favorite artists - released their magnificent collaborative album Make It Be on Bar/None Records. The work as a whole is a masterpiece of slightly-skewed pop, with delightfully rounded corners of weirdness that engage the listener throughout, and invite repeated listenings. While the album (a highlight of 2017) deserves its own attention from us, we thought we'd first focus on one of the work's centerpieces, "I H8 Ppl." The track is a reworking of a classic RSM recording, and since we love both versions, we figured it would be fun and worthwhile to consider the two gems together here.
According to Moore's own record-keeping, he penned the song in 1978, and it appeared not only as the SOL 45, but also on his releases Drumdrops (1980), Everything You Always Wanted to Know About R. Stevie Moore But Were Afraid to Ask (1984) , and Nevertheless Optimistic (2003).
The original RSM track bears many of the hallmarks that have endeared him to fans around the world for decades now: pop hooks, humor, skilled musicianship, smart and catchy songwriting, and invitingly idiosyncratic lyrics. This version showcases Stevie's Nashville/Trans-Atlantic vocal delivery that has effectively surfaced throughout his career ("Conflict of Interest" is another notable example of this) resting atop a bed of crunchy bed guitars.
In the autumn of 2016 (as part of his in-depth, exclusive interview with us) Jason Falkner recounted the Make It Be recording sessions, and what led to their collaborative re-visitation of "I Hate People":
"I think we only had two weeks....The first thing I said was, “We have to re-imagine ‘I Hate People’.” [Remaking that with me] wasn’t even on his radar. There’s something about how up and joyous and rocking that chorus is, with the lyric, “I hate people” [laughs] that just absolutely kills me. I love it so much. Stevie asked, “Really, you want to do that one?” And I said, “Yes – we’re doing that one! Anything else you want to do, let’s do [laughs], but we have to do “I Hate People”. I’m so happy with that [recording].
While the revamped Moore/Falkner version remains faithful to the overall form an spirit of the original, both offerings possess their own valuable personality, charm, and appeal. It sounds to our ears like the Make it Be revamp might be transposed up a half step, though RSM assured us that the idea is that both songs are in the same key verifying that "[there was] never any intentional dropped key etc. Likely a master tape-to-pressing error, defective tape decks etc...The song is always supposed to be in A."
The 2017 re-imagining boasts up-front and strong vocals from the Godfather of Home Recording himself, including welcome exclamatory additions from RSM ("No exceptions!"), gnarly layered guitar work, and a hot-in-the-mix propelling drum track. These ingredients constitute a pleasingly muscular recording of a lovable and time-proven underground classic, and create the perfect re-imagined companion to the original. Given the track record of both these artists, it's hardly a surprise that Moore and Falkner deftly navigate the tightrope between home recording raw authenticity and pop perfection.