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Music Review: Daryl Hall & John Oates – Do What You Want Be What You Are

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Hall & Oates may not have earned the critical acclaim that was their due, but beginning in the mid-seventies and continuing throughout the eighties. You literally could not listen to the radio very long without one of their songs blasting out from the speakers.

They have released dozens of albums during the course of their career which has stretched nearly four decades and have sold tens of millions of albums, yet they are best known for a series of catchy pop singles that remain some of the best in music history. “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That,” “Maneater,” and “Out Of Touch” all reached number one on the Billboard Magazine singles chart and that just scratches the surface as 28 more would also become hits.

Do What You Want Be What You Are is a four CD, 74 track box-set that spans their career from their pre-duo college days in the late sixties, down to the present day. There are 74 different tracks taken from their recordings for seven different labels. Rarities, hits, and 16 unreleased tracks all combine to make this the definitive Hall & Oates release.

Disc one is the most historically interesting. Daryl Hall was a member of the rhythm & blues influenced The Temptones and John Oates fronted the pop sounding The Masters. Tracks from both of these sixties groups show how the early proclivities of each would combine into their later fully developed sound.

There are also five unreleased live performances taken from their 1975 concert at The New Victoria Theatre in London. Their sound was in the developmental stage but was beginning to transition toward the smooth brand of R&B/Pop that would dominate their best work.

Discs two and three present the heart and soul of their extensive catalogue as hit follows hit. All their number one songs are present as are “You Make My Dreams,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Adult Education,” “One On One,” “Rich Girl,” “Sara Smile,” and on and on and on seemingly ad infinitum. When all of their best material is clustered together it represents an impressive accomplishment.

Disc four contains a selection of their most recent material and is the weakest. Daryl Hall had a number of side projects during this period plus the music was just not of the same quality. The live material especially does not have the smoothness of their classic eighties releases.

One of the highlights of the set is the accompanying sixty page booklet complete with rare photos and comments about every track by either Daryl Hall or John Oates.

Do What You Want Be What You Are is seventies and eighties pop music at its best. All box sets ultimately stand on the music and Hall & Oates have a very large and firm foundation.

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