A few days ago I came up with my top 10 lesser-known Hall & Oates songs to mark their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Originally it was just going to be a top five and now here I am, realising I’m letting down my whole H&O appreciation unless I come up with underrated songs 11-20.
So with merely a sentence or two each to explain why these tracks are worth knowing as much as underrated songs 1-10, not to mention the 16 Hall & Oates US top 10 hits, here are songs 11-20:
Ooh Child, 2004:
A catchy if lyrically-slight number by the pre-Jackson 5 Jackson 5, The 5 Stairsteps, this inspiring-through-repitition equal H&O duet is more lush and better realized than the original and as such is my highlight from the mostly covers LP Our Kind Of Soul.
So Close, 1990:
One of the things I love about Daryl Hall is his honesty and he makes no secret of thinking producer Jon Bon Jovi ruined his soul ballad by rocking it up at the behest of the record company. This is the soul ballad version of the US#11 hit.
When The Morning Comes, 1973:
Another standout from one of the best folk / soul hybrid LPs in history, the Arif Mardin-produced Abandoned Luncheonette. Love the mandolin.
Time Won’t Pass Me By, 1997:
From Marigold Sky, this overlooked LP is for me more than any other Hall & Oates release greater than the sum of its parts. Time Won’t Pass Me By is very much a John Oates song, but it is the harmonies with Hall combined with the chilled groove that make this a personal favourite.
70s Scenario, 1974:
War Babies was dismissed as an underbought rock-experiment by many in the 70s, though closer inspection reveals a couple of major pop-hooks as well as some soulful vocal calisthenics from Hall.
Better Watch Your Back, 1974:
Not unlike some White Stripes songs, this tune is so full of hooks – not to mention the unforgettable black-slang overheard by Hall on a street-corner that inspired the lyrics – it’s surprising Better Watch Your Back is unknown even by many Hall & Oates fans.
Had I Known You Better Then, 1973:
Occupying similar musical territory to I’m Just A Kid Don’t Make Me Feel Like A Man, this is another Abandoned Luncheonette folk / soul song to remind people who only know the 80s H&O that they were indeed a duo, not merely a lead singer + backing singer.
Cold Dark & Yesterday, 1984:
Arguably the most commercial John Oates’ sung song of the 80s, this was oddly overlooked for Oates’ less memorable other number on Big Bam Boom, Possession Obsession.
I Ain’t Gonna’ Take It This Time, 1990:
A Daryl Hall power-ballad with untapped hit-potential and oddly endearing ad-libs like “that’s right,” “check it out,” and “alright, c’mon.”
Getaway Car, 2003:
Similar, though more acclaimed than the preceding Marigold Sky LP, Do It For Love when listened as a collective is a strong and consistent album. Taken individually the songs may sound nice but lacking in hit-required x-factor, but that underplays the quiet beauty apparent when soulful pop numbers like the Billy Mann-written Getaway Car are enjoyed as a complete work.