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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Daryl Hall and John Oates

Live at the Troubadour

Review by Gary Hill

I was never a big fan of Hall and Oates in the days when they were all over the radio. Part of it was certainly that I was a snob when it came to my music tastes and truly avoided what was popular. The thing is, after listening to this disc I have to wonder if these guys were as good then as they are now. I mean, much of the music I remember as being way overproduced. These live recordings go a long ways towards fixing that issue. I also don’t remember them being as jazzy as they are. Maybe it’s the new arrangements or maybe I wasn’t listening closely enough. Whatever the reason, this is a great live album. I really like it a lot. There are few songs that leave me a little less than excited, but for the most part this is very enjoyable. It’s also a great package. You get a double CD set and a full DVD of the same show. You just can’t beat it. It seems likely that Hall and Oates fans will be all over this. I’d say that those of us who didn’t get them first time around might enjoy this a lot, too. Pulled away from the over-exposed, over-played and over-produced backdrop these guys are still very talented.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Everything Your Heart Desires
There is some stage banter about the first time Hall and Oates played the Troubador at the start of this. Then they launch into a soulful groove for this piece. It’s a decent tune, but not really a standout at all.
When the Morning Comes
In some ways they don’t change things up at all. That said, this is a much more potent track. It’s more jazzy and just feels more emotional in terms of the vocal arrangement. There are some great jazz horns on this, too. 
Family Man
Starting with a stripped down guitar and voice arrangement, this one seems more effective than I remember it being. They power it up more after a time. The first track that I was familiar with here, I have always liked this one. I think I prefer this live version, but I haven’t heard the studio rendition in a long time. It’s a good mellow rocker. It’s got a couple tasty guitar solos. 
Say It Isn't So
I vaguely remember this one, too. For me it’s not nearly as effective as “Family Man.” It does have a nice vocal arrangement, though. 
It's Uncanny
I don’t really have any recollection of having heard this track. I like it a lot, though. It’s another with both a soulful and a jazzy texture. It’s a cool number and features quite a potent vocal arrangement. 
Had I Known You Better Then
There’s more of a folk music element to this number. It’s bouncy and fun, but perhaps a bit lightweight. That said, it’s entertaining. This is another that has some tasty acoustic guitar work. 
She's Gone
I’ve always liked this song. For some reason it reminds me of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love.” They put in a great live rendition and I think I might like this version better than the original. I think this feels a little slower, though. There’s a sultry horn solo on this.
Getaway Car
The acoustic based motif on this is wonderful. It’s pretty and rather intricate. This is balladic and emotionally powerful. There is a great acoustic based bluesy texture to this. We also get some killer improve later that’s very much in a jazz mode. I don’t recall ever hearing this cut before, but I really like it.
Cab Driver
Another that I don’t recall ever hearing before, this borders on the sublime. It’s got an incredible jazzy texture to it. It might be the best piece of music of the whole set. The arrangement gets much more intense and involved later. At nearly nine minute in length, they put in quite an extensive jam here. I’d have to say that the later portions of this are purely jazz. 
Disc 2
One on One
I remember the studio version of this being an overproduced smooth soft rock creation. Perhaps I’m remembering it wrong, but this is quite a tasty track here. It’s not dramatically different from the other music they are offering up, but it’s also quite an inspired and enthralling rendition. It’s another piece that includes both some great jazz stylings and some extremely tasty saxophone work. The little extended acapella/scat bit doesn’t do that much for me, though. 
Sara Smile
Here’s another extremely effective piece. It’s pretty and evocative. 
Maneater
I can remember definitely disliking the studio version in the day. They bring it with acoustic guitar here and without the overproduction I can hear in my head this is a far stronger tune. This really lets the jazz elements that were buried in the original stand on their own more. There’s a great instrumental break here. 
Out of Touch
Another of the duo’s biggest hits, this was one of the stronger ones in the day. This version is quite good and I like it a lot. There’s a nice acoustic guitar solo on this. 
I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)
They start this with a bit of jazz rambling, but quickly move it out into a retro textured and quite dramatic jam. There’s a killer funky groove and a lot of smooth jazz stylings here. I remember this as a strong piece of music, but this one totally transcends the best memories. It’s another possible choice for best performance on the set. There’s an awesome soulful groove to it. They turn in quite an extensive and jazz oriented performance of this. 
Rich Girl
Another of their mega-hits this one never really did a lot for me – although the chorus was catchy. This is one of the most true to the studio take of anything on the set. It seems to work quite well. Perhaps time has altered my feelings about this track or perhaps the added intensity of a live performance has made it a more powerful piece. Either way, I like this a lot. They do seem to extend this out a bit at the end. 
Kiss on My List
And the hits keep coming. This was definitely one of the songs that turned me away from Hall and Oates. I’d have to say that this version is a bit better than I remember the track being, but it really only goes so far to warming me over. The vocal line is catchy, though. 
You Make My Dreams
This bouncy rocker works quite well here. I wouldn’t consider it a highlight – but it’s still quite effective. 
Abandoned Luncheonette
Keyboards start it off and vocals come in over the top. This grows gradually as a retro sounding ballad. After a verse they bring it into pure jazz motifs to carry onward. This has a great groove to it and is one of the highlights of the set. It really becomes an inspired and awesome jazz jam. 
Private Eyes
I was never overly impressed with this track. They don’t really change that here. It’s an alright song, quite reminiscent of the Doobie Brothers, but not really my cup of tea.
 
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