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DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES The Atlantic Albums Edsel (2011)

Daryl Hall & John Oates

The first thing to say is what a great job Edsel has done in putting together this package of Hall & Oates' first three albums - Whole Oats (1972), Abandoned Luncheonette (1973) and War Babies (1974) on Atlantic Records. The band were then dropped, moved to RCA and went global, but hey, we all make mistakes. Here, you get four bonus tracks - one from the Whole Oats sessions, and 3 recorded as a contractual obligation after War Babies which were previously only available on the No Goodbyes compilation, and an extensive 32 page booklet.

None of the albums were terribly successful at the time as the pair struggled to find their own sound. Whole Oats typified that initial search focusing in on white Philly soul, whereas Abandoned Luncheonette moved subtly into folk and soul, and War Babies brought Todd Rundgren and Utopia in as producer and band giving the pair the most rock orientated album of their career.

Actually, much of the material has worn surprisingly well. If there's a better sequence of tracks than Had I Known You Better Then, Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song), She's Gone, and I'm Just A Kid (Don't Make Me Feel Like A Man) - from the magnificent Abandoned Luncheonette - then I've yet to discover it.

Add to that some real gems off both Whole Oats and War Babies - an album that's stood the test of time part particularly well despite hastening the departure from Atlantic (a case of 'right album, wrong time'?) - and this collection is well worthwhile exploring.

Oh, how Atlantic must have rued the day when, the year after they gave the boys their P45's, Sara Smile took Hall and Oates into the top 10 and made them a household name. At least, Atlantic had the satisfaction of reflected glory when a re-release of She's Gone achieved similar status.

Strangely, Hall & Oates mega success was short lived - a star burning brightly in the mid seventies, only to be doused and re-ignited for another brief spell in the early eighties. But at their best they were as good as good as it gets. And there may be no mention of any re-mastering on this compilation, but nevertheless, it has to be said, all 3 albums sound fantastic.


Review by Pete Whalley


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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