by Keavin Wiggins
For a time
every song they released turned to Gold (and Platinum)
For over thirty years Daryl Hall and John
Oates have ridden a melodious wave that produced hit after hit for the
duo; giving them a track record that is paralleled by only the most successful
hitmakers of the past half-century. Through the ups and downs they
have always stayed true to their basic blue-eyed soul formula that is loaded
with hooks and whose melodies captured the ears of mainstream music fans
the world over. Although critics were quick to dismiss them, the fans told
a different story and when the tally was totaled Hall and Oats were the
ones laughing with seven number one songs, six platinum albums, a string
of hit videos and dozens of Top 40 singles.
Even now, over 30 years since they originally
teamed up, Hall and Oates are still at it and although tastes and trends
have changed, the core of this hitmaking dynasty has never wavered.
Daryl and John first met in 1967 while students at Temple University. At
that point both were already heavily involved in the Philly music scene
that was creating music that would become known as “Philly Soul”. They
saw in each other kindred spirits and embarked on a few musical projects
together but none of them panned out and they went their separate ways.
It looked like Darly Hall was on his way
to the top when his group Gulliver landed a deal with Elektra records but
fate had other plans for him as the group never really took off and soon
broke up. Daryl then immersed himself in studio work until John Oats once
again appeared on the scene. Despite their previous false-starts,
the duo knew they had something special together and created a new group
that tapped into the popular folk music fad of the time. They quickly came
to the attention of the now legendary Tommy Mottola who saw something special
in them as well and took them under his wing.
Mottola got the duo a deal with Atlantic
records where they produced three albums -- Whole Oates (1972), Abandoned
Luncheonette (1973), War Babies (1974). During that time they were honing
their musical style and moving more into the blue-eyed soul infused pop
music that they would later become renowned for, but they failed to make
a splash on the charts and only had a minor hit with the song “She’s Gone”
The duo needed a change of pace so they
packed up and relocated to New York City in 1974 and since Atlantic didn’t
seem to have it in them to break the band Daryl and John left the label
and signed to RCA in 1975.
RCA seemed to be the right home for the group and at that point they had
fine-tuned their signature sound. In September of 1975 RCA released the
group’s self-titled album. The cover art featured the duo done up in glam
makeup but the music didn’t mesh with the image. The strength of their
marriage between rock, soul and pop became evident when the single “Sara
Smile” skyrocketed into the Top 10. At that point people rediscovered
the duo’s previous minor hit “She’s Gone” which also landed in the Top
No one can ever accuse Hall and Oats of
being an overnight success. The duo were quick to reenter the studio to
record a follow-up to their break-through self-titled album and “Bigger
Than Both of Us” hit stores in the summer of 1976 where in languished on
the shelves for half a year.
This album was little more focused on the
group’s pop side but it initially failed to reach a wide audience. That
all changed in early 1977 when the single “Rich Girl” hit the airwaves
and went straight to number one. But it would be a few years before
they would enjoy that level of success again.
The death of the disco craze and the dawn
of a new decade as well as a curious new vehicle to showcase music called
MTV gave Hall and Oats a new lease on life in 1980 when they produced their
“Voices” would kick things up to a whole new level for the musical duo.
Their first single a cover of the Righteous Brothers' hit "You've Lost
That Lovin' Feeling," put them back into the public eye and garnished them
a number 12 single but it was it was the second single, a hook laden pop
song called “Kiss on My List” that propelled them into the major success
story of 1980 when the song landed at no. 1 on the charts.
The third single from “Voices” a tune called
“You Make My Dreams” swept all the way to number 5 on the charts and the
band scrambled to record a follow up album to cash in on their newfound
They weren’t disappointed when their next
album "Private Eyes" scored the group two number one hits for the title
track and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)". The group was quick
to tap into the success of MTV and produced what are considered some of
the cheesiest music videos ever to hit the airwaves but the fans didn’t
care as the new cable network showed the group’s videos around the clock.
It wasn’t just the mainstream pop audience that was turned on to the duo’s
mix of pop and soul but also R&B fans who vindicated Hall and Oats
“blue-eyed” soul sound by giving them a number one hit on the R&B charts
with "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)".
Nothing could stop the rising star that was Hall and Oats. When their next
album “H20” hit stores in 1982 it became an instant success. Their first
single “Maneater” became a monster hit for the band and the next two singles,
"One on One" and "Family Man," would both land in the Top 10 and help make
“H20” a double platinum success.
Instead of churning out a new studio album
in 1983, Hall and Oats decided it was time to give their new found fans
a glimpse into their past and they released a best of compilation “Rock
N’ Soul, Pt. 1” which contained two new songs, "Say It Isn't So" and "Adult
Education." Both songs followed Hall and Oats recent success streak and
landed in the Top 10.
In late 1984 the group’s next studio album
“Big Bam Boom" hit stores and became another double platinum success for
the group. Four songs from the album landed in the Top 40 but it was the
soulful “One on One” that took them all they way to the top once again.
Following the release of a live album in 1985, Daryl and John took a break
from each other. Daryl tried his hand at a solo career and meet with only
moderate success. The fans wanted the duo, Hall and Oats, not solo records.
So after a few years apart John and Daryl teamed up again and signed a
new deal with Arista records.
Their Arista debut, “Ooh Yeah!” hit stores
in 1988 and it looked like they were back to their old tricks when the
first single “Everything Your Heart Desires” raced to number three on the
charts and propelled the album to platinum sales but the success was short
lived as critics blasted the album as a mediocre comeback effort and fans
failed to latch on to the other singles from the record.
The follow up album “Change of Season”
was just that, a change of a decade and musical taste. While the band rode
the wave of stardom during the 80’s, dominating the charts and MTV, the
90’s wasn’t an easy decade for the duo as they started off on the wrong
foot and never seemed to recover. Even the aid of hitmaker Jon Bon
Jovi as the producer of “Change of Season” didn’t help. The album seemed
disjointed and lacked the hit appeal of the group's previous work. The
one bright spot on the album, “So Close” did reach number eleven on the
charts but the album only sold moderately and the days of platinum sales
and number one singles were replaced by minor hits and gold records.
.Photos courtesy of Hall and Oats Official
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