Hall & Oates

The Singles

Sometimes, in a world of poorly organized MP3 folders, a man longs for a consistent, well sequenced body of work to ease the lugubrious passage of what one accepts for a day. It is for this reason that I suggest a well executed singles collection from a proven talent might be the answer to our heathen prayers in these dark days. With that mind, let us cast our ears on Hall & Oates: The Singles.

It cannot be denied: word to Prince, Daryl and John got hits. The thing opens with ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’, a bona fide classic, a masterclass in sinister funk and that patented widescreen, sparking production style that cats like Dre up and ran with. The thing opens like a grand seduction, each element announces itself coolly, an understated triumph even before the vocals. A smörgåsbord of lush brilliance and what sounds like 15 choruses at once. Pinned down by an assuredly classic bass line, this thing is, on its own, one of the illest records of all time.

But that wasn’t a fluke. The awesomeness piles on thick and fast – ‘Maneater’ is even more menacing than I remember, the saxophone sounding more terrible a harbinger of doom than ever in pop… They turn what would have been – in lesser hands – a mere Supremes homage into a dystopian nightmare of dead eyed soul. ‘Out Of Touch’ is complicated, sneaky, brutish, glorious infidel of a song, building from mean bully to anthem. ‘Family Man’ stirs up some brilliant, eerie drama, while the Wu-Inspiring ‘Method of Modern Love’ invents shoegazing AND George Michael while remaining thoroughly dope, and ‘Rich Girl’ is Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl’ as imagined by Van Morrison and Otis Reading. At least. It is said too often, but they really ain’t making ’em like this no more.

Tragic ballad ‘Sara Smile’, 10 CC-topping smoothfest ‘She’s Gone’ and the celebratory stadium arcadia of ‘It’s A Laugh’ complete a flawless ‘Side A’. But it is at this point that Hall & Oates stumble, with heartless stinkers like their cover of ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin Feelin” and autopilot bores like ‘Wait For Me’ and ‘Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid’ leaving stains on an otherwise flawless rap sheet. At their worst Hall & Oates are as bad as anything the bloated 80s excreted.

Luckily there is little of that, and we get more awesome pop brillaince like ‘Kiss On My List’, and modern day surveillance society anthem ‘Private Eyes’. Clap! They’re watching you! Clap clap! They see your every move! Hall & Oates then – undeniably awesome pop genie-eye. Trim a couple of tracks here and you have basically an hour of perfect music. There aren’t many singles collections you can say that for – H&A are up there with the greats.

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