Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Daryl Hall & John Oates - Original Album Classics (2013)


BOX SET MONTH (MAY, 2015)

A collection of 5 Hall & Oates CDs from their days with the RCA label, in cardboard album sleeve replicas, budget-priced (I picked mine up for $16.66). 3 of the 5 CDs include bonus tracks. Hall & Oates were finally inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and, more importantly, singled out as the group with the most Top 40 hits during the years 1976-85 over at My Favorite Decade.


DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES (1975)
12 tracks, 42 minutes


Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #17
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #47

 U.S. charted singles: Pop R&B AC
 Alone Too Long
98
 Sara Smile42318

Don't let the glam rock cover fool you, this is typical Hall & Oates soul/pop, albeit with the usual mid-70's trappings of overactive strings with odd instrumentation and production choices.  Plus the boys' hadn't quite yet gained complete control of their falsetto voices.  But the songwriting is so good and characteristically H&O that you hardly notice.  Sara Smile is the hit here, but there are other songs just as good, including Alone Too Long and Nothing At All.  The album falls apart at the end, but tracks 1-7 are solid.  Of the two bonus tracks, I would take What's Important to Me over the album's actual last track, Soldering.

I wasn't buying albums in 1975, so I hadn't heard this one all the way through until I picked up this box set.  I thought it was going to be Sara Smile and a bunch of filler, so I was pleasantly surprised.



BIGGER THAN THE BOTH OF US (1976)
9 tracks, 35 minutes


Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #13
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #20

 U.S. charted singles: Pop R&B
 Do What You Want, Be What You Are3929
 Rich Girl164
 Back Together2870

The soul songs are top-notch as usual, but the pop stuff here can't seem to make up its mind if it wants to be Boz Scaggs, ELO, Lynyrd Skynyrd, or Todd Rundgren.  As a result, there's a few skippable tracks here, including most of what was side two, although I like the closing track, Falling.  Daryl Hall is in fine voice throughout although he's pushed to the back on my disc's wacky mix.  Why the slow-burning Do What You Want Be What You Are wasn't a bigger hit is a mystery to me.  Not the duo's best release, but Rich Girl is a stone cold classic and immediately takes me back to Mrs. French's fifth grade classroom, my home away from home during the 1976-77 school year.



BEAUTY ON A BACK STREET (1977)
9 tracks, 37 minutes


Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #30
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #23

 U.S. charted single: Pop
 Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart?73

With the exception of the low-charting single, this album is a continuation of everything that was wrong with the previous album.  Meh.



PRIVATE EYES (1981)
13 tracks, 56 minutes


Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #5
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #5

 U.S. charted singles: PopR&B AC Dance
 Private Eyes 1
33
 I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) 11121
 Did It In a Minute 9
29
 Your Imagination 3345


At the peak of their commercial powers, with an energetic band and solid tunes throughout.  As overplayed as the title track is, I'll be dadgummed if it still doesn't sound fantastic.  That's followed by the inexplicably ignored Motownish Looking For A Good Sign.  Then the disc's signature tune, I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) with a bass line so sweet it's been lifted by the likes of Robyn, CeeLo Green, Michael Jackson, and Simply Red (among others).  The Oates tune, Mano A Mano, is the only skippable tune on the disc, but it bounces back nicely with the Kiss On My List sound-alike, Did It In A Minute.  And that's just side one.  The six tracks that make up side two contain some filler, but at least it's good, enjoyable filler with the occasional hook.

The 2 bonus tracks are 12" versions of My Imagination and I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) which, while they aren't the most inventive remixes, are good enough for this guy.  If a little is good, more is better, right?



H2O (1982)
14 tracks, 64 minutes


Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #3
Peak on Cash Box album chart: #4

 U.S. charted singles: PopR&B AC Dance
 Maneater 1781418
 One on One784
 Family Man68136

While it contains the duo's biggest chart hit, the misogynistic Maneater, this album isn't as good as Private Eyes or Voices.  It does, however, contain one of my favorite H&O songs, One On One.  I also like Open All Night and most of what was side two (tracks 6-11).  The Top 10 single Family Man never did much for me in 1982 and still doesn't.

The bonus tracks are 12" remixes of the three singles. Not surprisingly, my favorite is One On One.

On my list of the Top 82 Albums of 1982, this album placed at #37.  In a 3 star review, Rolling Stone magazine called H2O "a competent but off-putting album whose icy virtuosity makes Kraftwerk sound as down-home as a bluegrass band."  Yikes - that's a bit harsh.  But the album has gone platinum several times over, so H&O get the last laugh on that count.



Previously revisited for the blog:
Big Bam Boom (1984)
Voices (1980)

8 comments:

  1. Mark, I have four of those five albums digitally. For that price, that was a steal! Well worth it.

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  2. I mentioned there were good and bad aspects to these five paks before and this one has some of the bad. One small detail.

    Obviously a British product, featuring the first five Hall & Oates albums to chart on the UK charts where 1980's Voices inexplciably failed to chart. The same Voices that had four US Top 40 hits including the number one "Kiss On My List", which topped out at number 33 across the pond. But I get it, 1980 was a very heady time in the British music scene and they had no time for an import act like Hall & Oates. Alas my complaint is all for naught as their label released a second five album collection of Original Album Classics in 2013 which makes no sense chronolgically but it does include Voices.
    The second collection:
    Along The Red Ledge [1978]
    X-Static [1979]
    Voices [1980]
    Big Bam Boom [1984]
    Ooh Yeah [1988]

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  3. The first album is somewhat off-putting with the glammed up cover art but you are correct Sir in saying the boys are true to their sound.

    Would like to point out for those of you who don't know that the hidden gem "Alone Too Long" was used as theme song for the hilariously dark HBO comedy Hello Ladies which lasted one episode season in 2013 and tied up loose ends with a full-length movie in 2014. The show featured a different soft rock nugget at the end of each episode as well.

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  4. Looks like we are of the same opinion on the second album in the box though I enjoy the duo's flights of pop fancy as I'm pretty sure I know exactly which songs you heard "Boz Scaggs, ELO, Lynyrd Skynyrd, (and) Todd Rundgren".
    Said it before but I'll say it again, album opener "Back Together Again" is awesome tribute to Philly Soul and great lost theme to Seventies television show that never existed.
    "Do What You Want Be What You Are" is also the title of their legit boxed set with demos, live versions and outtakes.

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  5. I do not hear the same things you do on album three. I do agree it is somewhat of an unsightly blemish on an otherwise fair to great discography. My sentiment remains that BMG made a mistake by including Beauty On A Back Street instead of Voices in this collection of Original Album Classics.

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  6. I have never heard Beauty on a Back Street so I will defer to you both on this one.

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  7. Private Eyes is hands down the favorite Hall & Oates album here at the Hideaway. Wife prefers H2O to my pick, Voices.

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