With Hate For Sale, the 68 year old Chrissie Hynde proves that her band (Martin Chambers, drums, James Walbourne, guitar, and Nick Wilkinson, bass) are as important and vital as ever. It’s great to hear a guitar rock band with hooks and melodies, and Hate For Sale delivers this in droves. Producer Stephen Street has helped them craft a real rock sounding record, Chrissie playing rhythm, and always featuring drummer extraordinaire Martin Chambers.
Starting things off, ‘Hate For Sale’ is a barrelling rocker complete with a false start, then kicks in with guitars thick and juicy, Chrissie’s harp, and her cocksure vocals. It’s a killer beginning to a real rock record. ‘The Buzz’ hearkens back to 1980’s Pretenders, a nifty single note riff and classic Kinks-like chord progression paired with Chrissie’s oh-so-sexy vocal. The lyrics are comparing love to a narcotic you can’t get enough of. It’s a classic Pretenders song. ‘Lightning Man’ is their stab at reggae, and it’s not at all bad, with choppy guitar and echoed melodica. Nick Wilkinson’s bass is a real standout here.
‘Turf Accountant Daddy’ has a glammy stomp and a bit of a T-Rex feel. It’s still a balls-out rocker with a cool synth break in the middle. ‘You Can’t Hurt A Fool’ is a smoky R & B ballad, like a recent Nick Lowe tune. Chrissie’s voice is unimpeachable and James Walbourne features on Steve Cropper-style lead guitar. This one is another standout. ‘I Didn’t Know When To Stop’ is a nod to early (Ramones, Pistols) punk, full of bar chords, tearing guitars, and Chrissie’s harmonica. Walbourne has a crushing solo, and this band is rocking like a bunch of youngsters. ‘Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely’ has a Bo Diddley swagger, Telecasters raging on with handclaps and a stinging solo. It’s just perfect.
There are a few songs towards the end of the record that aren’t as strong, but I must say that Hate For Sale is really a triumph. It’s not an exercise in nostalgia, just a band doing what they do best (see our review of X’s Alphabetland for a similar story at tinyurl.com/zubalphax). Chrissie’s voice and songwriting are a treasure, and although I was never a huge Pretenders fan (see our podcast at tinyurl.com/zubpretenders) I’ve always admired her. If a band like The Rolling Stones put out a record of this quality the world would be astounded. For Chrissie and The Pretenders it’s no big deal. For listeners, this is a BFD: rock solid and unrepentant.