HALL & OATES H20 (1982)

H20 (1982)
In Its Day, A Five Star Album

Personally speaking, by the early 80s, I was far from a commercial music listener. After the mid-seventies sent me in search of jazz, avant-garde & world musics, and punk brought me back home to rock, I had pretty much thumbed my nose at blatantly commercial music. Like you, I still had some radio faves, of course, but those were the scant few that – dictated by odds – radio got right. Either way, the radio just wasn’t where it was at in the 80s. Which is why it surprised even me that I fell so hook, line and sinker for H2O. I already liked these guys from their earlier albums (Abandoned Luncheonette, being a fave), and their commercial viability had already been firmly established (“Sara Smile,” among others), but the full court press at radio for H2O was something else altogether. The grooves are a tad robotic, but smooth and engaging, and the songs are immediately memorable. While Daryl Hall, simply put, is a vocal wonder. Although there’s no connection, I’ve always mentally linked this material with Robert Palmer’s radio run from a few years later – smart, sophisticated, lean & hip, all while appealing to the mass mindset. No mean feat. Hideous cover on so many levels. The bonus track version is at Amazon.

Maneater (4:33)
Crime Pays (4:32)
Art Of Heartbreak (3:44)
One On One (4:17)
Open All Night (4:34)
Family Man (3:26)
Italian Girls (3:17)
Guessing Games (3:16)
Delayed Reaction (3:59)
At Tension (6:16)
Go Solo (4:36)

23 Comments

  • 1
    Willard
    February 14, 2012 - 11:41 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • 2
    Dave
    February 14, 2012 - 13:25 | Permalink

    Another good one from the biggest hitmaking period. I think you and I are agreed on the genius of Daryl Hall and their secret weapon from this period, G.E. Smith. But I’m curious as to your take on Mr. Oates? He certainly must bring something to the table as H&O albums are generally quite a bit better than Daryl’s solo work (although “Can’t Stop Dreaming” is quite good), IMHO… I just can’t quite tell you what. I find his vocals tolerable in only very limited doses; One or two tracks per album is quite enough. I listened to his “Mississippi Mile” a while back and loved the arrangements for the most part but could barely get through the whole thing and will probably not listen to it again. His “soulful” style is SO affected, SO over-the-top, SO grating… ughhh. Any vocalist with enough taste to dial it back a notch but still bring the soul (thinking Boz Scaggs or Southside Johnny) to those arrangements would have made MM an absolute classic. Your thoughts?

    • 3
      Willard
      February 14, 2012 - 16:06 | Permalink

      Frankly, Dave, I’ve never given the guy much thought. No disrespect to Oates, or what he brought to the table (or to your inquiry), but his input never stood out to me (what I could identify as him) so, as a result, I never paid him much mind. Part of it was that H&O was never a band I “studied,” or delved any deeper into than the backs of their covers. My loss, probably, but… you can’t immerse yourself in everybody, and H&O was one of those bands I liked when I heard them, but forgot about when I didn’t, if that makes sense. In the end, Oates’ work ended up being (to my ears) the “filler” on some of their albums (everybody’s album had ‘em), which we seasoned record buyers were all quite used to dealing with (before the filler quotient was doubled with the extra space on CDs). But, now I wanna hear “Mississippi Mile” again.

  • 4
    February 14, 2012 - 17:49 | Permalink

    I like Hall and Oates, but they’re ability to churn out chart hits left me kind of cold. I was/am impressed by the fact that they basically took Todd Rundgren’s AM radio formulas and married them to Huff and Gamble style productions to find their niche market, but hey, what impeccable sources for the lifting of material. And Willard is correct, This record was MASSIVE at the time.
    The one that always got stuck in my head was “M-E-T-H-O-D O-F-L-O-V-E”.
    I seriously considered suicide for awhile if they did not stop playing that song!
    However, (as i said in a previous post on this site”, I did get the chance to meet them, and was impressed by the fact that Hall was making an album with Robert Fripp. Of course, it wasn’t released for another three years, but that’s another story

  • 5
    Dave
    February 14, 2012 - 20:58 | Permalink

    Was just curious. Frankly, I appreciate the props you give them here as this is a band that just don’t get much respect, or at least didn’t used to. They seem to be experiencing a renaissance in that area these days although I think that is mostly Daryl’s doing. Which is kind of the point, isn’t it? Oates is almost a punch-line, along with, say, Andrew Ridgely.

    Too cruel?

    Probably not that bad, but seriously, should any H&O scholars happen to run across this, please fill me in!

    • 6
      Willard
      February 15, 2012 - 08:30 | Permalink

      I never even noticed who composed the material, which shows how much I was paying attention.

  • 7
    buzz baby jesus
    February 15, 2012 - 08:04 | Permalink

    “Hall & Oates scholar” is kind of an oxymoron isn’t it?

  • 8
    buzz baby jesus
    February 15, 2012 - 12:29 | Permalink

    Back in the day, Hall & Oates contributed mightily to my turning off my radio. It remains off to this day. Now that I’m older, I can better appreciate their craft, and recognize that Daryl is a good singer, although his appearance on Robert Fripp’s “Exposure” was just one of many reasons that record was such a bitter disappointment after King Crimson.

    • 9
      Willard
      February 15, 2012 - 16:22 | Permalink

      Fripp & Hall did have one outstanding piece of music together (on Exposure)… “North Star,” which the uninitiated can hear on our Daryl Hall Sacred Songs post, HERE.

  • 10
    Dave
    February 15, 2012 - 13:13 | Permalink

    My college roommate had Fripp’s Exposure and voiced the same disdain. He found especially odious the sticker attached to the plastic wrap that said “featuring “(whatever song)” with vocals by Daryl Hall. It was quite a while after – too long to make a difference – before I learned that Fripp had produced Hall’s first solo album.

    I would class H&O along with ELO as a group that I enjoyed for their own sake (and I am sure it is a generational thing as I was 13 when “Kiss On My List” and hits of that ilk flooded the airwaves) then came to feel ashamed of when I started reading “Rolling Stone” and hanging with friends with older siblings who pronounced H&O “a coupla faggots.” I’m old enough now not to care anymore, thank goodness.

    However, I’ll admit “H&O Scholar” might be a reach.

  • 11
    Willard
    February 15, 2012 - 16:27 | Permalink

    Never turn your back on your first musical loves. I still love the Monkees, despite what I now know. But, you’re right… I’ve heard the cock crow three times myself when distancing myself from “Daydream Believer.”

  • 12
    buzz baby jesus
    February 15, 2012 - 17:00 | Permalink

    I just checked and “North Star” is pretty sweet. All I can say is at the time of release it wasn’t “Easy Money”, or “The Night Watch”. And I liked Peter Gabriel and Genesis better when they were in the same band.
    But it hardly mattered because by 1979 all I cared about was punk rock.

    • 13
      Willard
      February 15, 2012 - 17:41 | Permalink

      Nobody was as cool as early/mid-70s KC.

  • 14
    Leon
    February 15, 2012 - 21:33 | Permalink

    Everybody says they hate H&O now, because occasional self-loathing is part of human nature: we reject what we love, sometimes. Now, some of their stuff was wack, sure. But the best of their music makes me smile every time.

    I too have always liked this album, especially Oates’ “Italian Girls.” In general, Oates was the folky guy, Hall was the soulful guy. Great combo, in my opinion. Thanks for this one, Willard.

  • 15
    buzz baby jesus
    February 15, 2012 - 23:07 | Permalink

    Christmas 2007 found me in a big box Electronics store watching a bank of TV’s showing Hall & Oates “Jingle Bell Rock”, a song I’d traditionally rated as most hated of all time. It knocked me out. I haven’t felt any ill will to them, that song, or even Christmas music ever since. But that’s as far as I go.

  • 16
    Dave
    February 16, 2012 - 19:04 | Permalink

    I LUUUUURV H&O’s videos for Jingle Bell Rock. Yes, I said VideoS… There are two versions, with each of the guys taking a turn singing lead. I love the self-conscious corniness. It’s as if they said, “Hey we know our videos are cheesy. You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!” Easy to find on YouTube. And don’t forget to look for the “literal video” versions.

  • 17
    Willard
    February 16, 2012 - 19:29 | Permalink

    I’ve still got the red vinyl single, though I haven’t heard it in 20 years.

  • 18
    buzz baby jesus
    February 20, 2012 - 12:46 | Permalink

    I looked up the “I Can’t Go For That” to get the title right for a comment on “Of Cabbages And Kings”, watched a video, realized how good it actually was and then acquired H20 here.
    I’m sold.

  • 19
    Willard
    February 20, 2012 - 13:49 | Permalink

    Funny. That’s not gonna look good on your resume.

  • 20
    buzz baby jesus
    February 20, 2012 - 15:09 | Permalink

    I’m getting used to finding out I was wrong about things, but I’m sticking to my guns concerning Mott The Hoople ballads.

  • 21
    Willard
    February 20, 2012 - 15:21 | Permalink

    HA!

  • 22
    KDNYfm
    January 17, 2013 - 15:46 | Permalink

    Sorry I missed the original conversation about H&O…Abandoned Lucheonette and H2O were the only 2 albums of H&O I ever owned…still have both vinyl actually…What I think helped them with their sound was (a) working with savvy producers, and learning from them as well. and (b) surrounding themselves with quality musicians (ie TBone Wolk, GE Smith) who both also had great chops and could work with H&O as opposed to for them.
    Speaking of Abandoned Luncheonette, is it something you would have available to share as well?
    Thanx
    al

    • 23
      Willard
      January 17, 2013 - 17:04 | Permalink

      Yeah… I can swing that. Give me a few days as I’ve got some other things lined up now.

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