Steely Dan Sunday, “Hat Too Flat” (1994)

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This detailed re-evaluation of Becker’s first solo record from the mid-90s gave me a better appreciation of the album, but there are some quirks I still can’t overcome and the whole of “Hat Too Flat” is one of them. A stew of reggae, avant-garde and pop, the three music forms are clumsily put together this time, unlike “My Waterloo” and much of Circus Money. Even bigger annoyances are that Atari synth bass line and the chincy keyboard solo, and at five and a half minutes, this filler track — as one line of lyric goes — “felt like half a day.”

The title might be inspired from a line on Donald Fagen’s “Teahouse On The Tracks” from the prior year (“Bring your flat hat and your ax “), and the prose — as best as I can make out — bespeak of an alien race from a star called Arcturus 37 light years from Earth, trying to assimilate into human society but getting confounded by overly horizontal headgear.

I could be wrong about the lyrics, of course, but my gut tell me that “Hat Too Flat” falls flat, well below the normally high standards of Mr. Becker. It’s good to have some evidence that he’s human like the rest of us, though.

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