Just about the time I was emerging from the hard rock and psychedelic music haze of my post college years in the mid 1970s, Daryl Hall and John Oates were becoming a constant presence on the radio airwaves. Their music was slick, polished, and catchy which enabled their albums and singles to sell in the tens of millions. While their popularity would wane as the 1980s drew to a close, their legacy would rank them as one of the most successful duos in music history.
Hall & Oates were a guilty pleasure. I would seclude their albums where they couldn’t be seen but would privately appreciate their pop sensibilities. They were a signal that I was aging and my musical tastes were adapting. The Beach Boys, Beatles, and Roy Orbison sounds of my youth and the hard rock leanings of my college years would not be left behind, but my music tastes would expand to include a pop sound.
While Hall and Oates would produce eighteen studio albums and numerous compilations and live releases, it would be their brilliantly crafted singles that would form the basis of their popularity. They would place 34 singles on the Billboard charts including sixteen that would reach the top ten. “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” “Maneater,” and “Out Of Touch” would all reach number one.
Daryl Hall and John Oates have reunited from time to time over the years. Last May the duo brought their act to the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Live At The Troubadour is a three disc CD recording of their performances. The first two discs contain nineteen songs from their concerts. The third disc is a DVD which presents the same tracks live.
This set is a worthy addition to their catalogue and legacy. They present many of their best known songs but being live they are not as polished as the studio recordings. This is positive as Hall & Oates change some of the music around and even jam on many of the tracks. The use of a saxophone sound is very creative. The music emerges a little grittier and seems more genuine. All in all it finds Hall & Oates presenting their music with an edge which has been rare in their career, live or otherwise.
Daryl Hall and John Oates mostly accompany themselves on acoustic guitar but behind them is a full band which all coalesces into an effective and interesting sound. The hits just flow smoothly along. Such memorable songs as “Say It Isn’t So,” “She’s Gone,” “One On One,” “Sara Smile,” “Maneater,” “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” “You Make My Dreams,” and “Private Eyes” all find the duo in their comfort zone. They do dig a little deeper into their repertoire with such tracks as “It’s Uncanny,” “When The Morning Comes,” “Cab Driver,” and “Abandoned Luncheonette.”
Daryl Hall and John Oates are not young anymore and have played most of these songs thousands of times. They are wise enough to do things a little different and make them interesting. As such they have put together a live recording that provides pleasure without any guilt.