Thursday, November 3, 2011


I have absolutely no reason to be embarrassed about my affection for Hall & Oates.  First off, I am not alone, even among the trend-setters.  No less a source than the ultra-hip Herohill music blog did an entire H&O tribute mix featuring covers by indie favourites a few months back.  But they are bandwagon-jumpers, those youngsters.  I've been diggin' the duo since they landed early to mid-70's, when it was all blue-eyed soul, before Maneater.  But...I kinda like Maneater too.  Hall can sing, the both can write crazy hooks and do American soul music proud.  And it's Movember, and who rocks a 'stash better than Oates?

Now, I'm no loon on this matter, and other than a double CD best of, you won't find anything else by them in the voluminous music collection here.  I do think Hall's web TV show Live From Daryl's House is really well-done too, although it's hit-and-miss with the musical guest stars (check it out, YouTubers).  So that made me at least want to throw on this new disc from Hall just to see what he'd sound like today.

It turns out he sounds like a somewhat more respectable version of his old, hit-making self.  The 80's production values have been replaced by basic and conventional rock set-up.  But (and here's the brilliance, I believe), there's still a little hint of the 80's in there, every once in a while.  Talking To You has that little shimmer and splash of electric guitar and keyboards, a kind of signature sound you'll recognize immediately.  It's not overused, but it's that little reminder of who you are dealing with.  Of course, that voice is unmistakable, and still just as glorious.  Every so often, he rolls out a classic whoa-oh-whoa, one of the rare people who can sing those wordless fills, and not sound stupid.

Look, if this wasn't Daryl Hall, but some unknown chap, half the critics would be all over this as an example of somebody able to get that great, smooth Philly or Memphis soul sound, and blend in so many Top 40 hooks.  And the song Save Me sounds like great Allen Toussaint or Boz Scaggs.  Really though, we should be saying it sounds like great Daryl Hall, and no snickering when you say that!  Props are due.  Oh ya, celebrate Mr. Mustache too, wherever the hell he's gone.


  1. "mr. moustache" shaved it off years ago and put out an excellent roots-flavoured album earlier this year called "mississippi mile" on elektra-nashville, which gets more spins by me than the new daryl hall...but that's just me.

  2. Cool! Now that's something I must check out.. although I mock, all you have to do is look at the writer credits over the years to see Oates pulled his weight and contributed greatly. He's no Andrew Ridgely. However, that facial hair will stay a symbol of 80's excess for a long time.
    thanks, Bob

  3. i figured as much. i've spent many, many years more on the daryl side of the camp, but in the last few years have come to appreciate john's vocals more (which are aging better than daryl's, in my opinion.)
    "mississippi mile" is a bit on the over-produced side of things for me, but it certainly shows a more laid-back, rootsy side of john that's been waiting to get out of him for some time, far from the spandex pants & moustache of the "big bam boom"-era (for reference, any of john's songs from either of the first two h&o albums, "whole oats" or "abandoned luncheonette" will do.)

    i don't think you'll be disappointed.