Daryl Hall & John Oates
Do What You Want, Be What You Are
Despite an amazing decade-long run, when they enjoyed a stranglehold on the pop charts, Hall & Oates weren’t considered the coolest hit makers of the 1970s and ‘80s. To some, the Philly duo was considered a guilty pleasure. Not anymore. Rappers sample them, Brandon Flowers and Ben Gibbard offer praise in interviews, while internet parody series “Yacht Rock” and funnyordie.com’s animated “J-Stache” - where Oates’ once-iconic bushy mustache fights crime - have given the music a hip cache for younger music fans. Recent film “(500) Days of Summer” even featured a dance sequence set to “You Make My Dreams.”
Do What You Want, Be What You Are, the blue-eyed soul singers’ first box set, does a good job at surveying their career, from rare 1966 singles in separate R&B groups to a 1972 piano ballad (“Dreamer”) Hall discovered and recorded this past summer. Most Hall & Oates pop hits and studio albums are represented (except Beauty on a Back Street, Marigold Sky and Our Kind of Soul; a few of the latter’s solid remakes would’ve been worthy inclusions) amid the four CD, 74 track retrospective.
No remastering was done (there are a couple remixes), but the oldest tunes sound fine. Diehard fans will be drawn to 16 unreleased songs. Half are live (a smokin’ 25-minute set is culled from a 1975 London gig), with the remainder made up of demos (Hall’s poignant “Have You Ever Been in Love,” popularized by Celine Dion) and outtakes off Private Eyes, Change of Season and Do It For Love. The 60-page booklet includes unseen photos, an essay, detailed annotations and testimonials by the likes of Gibbard, Patrick Stump, Rob Thomas, Gym Class Heroes’ Travis McCoy, De la Soul’s Pos, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Todd Rundgren and a dozen others.