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Hall And Oates - 1977 Beauty On A Back Street

ARTIST: Hall And Oates
ALBUM: Beauty On A Back Street
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 2008, Friday Music (USA), FRM 1977

LINEUP: Daryl Hall - vocals, keyboards, guitars * John Oates - vocals, guitars, piano

TRACK LISTING: 01 Don't Change * 02 Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart * 03 Winged Bull * 04 The Girl Who Used To Be * 05 The Emptyness * 06 Love Hurts, Love Heals * 07 You Must Be Good For Something * 08 Bigger Than Both Of Us * 09 Bad Habits And Infections


The late 70's were a difficult time for Hall And Oates. Touring constantly in the wake of two massive singles 'She's Gone' and 'Rich Girl', the duo entered a period of experimentation in the studio, moving away from the 'blue-eyed soul' of previous albums to a more FM friendly, album rock sound which didn't go over too well with the public at large. Sales of 'Beauty On A Back Street' were less than impressive and the fact the record company were pushing Daryl Hall's solo career only added to what were frustrating times. After this album was released, Hall went into the studio recording 'Sacred Songs' with King Crimson guitarist extraordinaire Robert Fripp, blindsiding the recording company with an experimental rock record that the label shelved until 1980.

The Songs
It's a shame this album did so poorly, but perhaps it was the dark tone of the album cover. Whatever the case, this is one of Hall And Oates better albums and of their entire catalog, it's the only one that I still play from time to time. Personal kudos aside, the albums single 'Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart?' is not the strongest single the band have written, but it's the closest to the sound radio listeners would have recognized as Hall and Oates featuring a near do-wop chorus and subtle hook. 'The Emptyness' features Jon Oates on vocals which oddly enough reminds a little of Queen. Filled with drama and heavily orchestrated it's not a typical Hall And Oates track by any means although 'Love Hurts (Love Heals)' brings a tinge of soul back to side one's close. On the flip, 'Bad Habits and Infections' give us a very Sparks influenced chorus and classical keyboard work. Unusual to say the least, but so is the tribute to Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' on 'Winged Bull' and its strange electronic ending. 'The Girl Who Used To Be' closes the album with an atmospheric and dreamy ballad that's exotic as it is beautiful, both lyrically and instrumentally.

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