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Hall And Oates - 1982 H20

ARTIST: Hall And Oates
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1990, RCA, PCD1-4383 * 2004, BMG Heritage, 828765861625


LINEUP: Daryl Hall - vocals, keyboards, guitars * John Oates - vocals, guitars, piano * G.E. Smith - lead guitar * Tom 'T Bone' Wolk - bass * Mickey Curry - drums * Charlie 'Mr Casual' De Chant - sax

TRACK LISTING: 01 Maneater * 02 Crime Pays * 03 Art Of Heartbreak * 04 One On One * 05 Open All Night * 06 Family Man * 07 Italian Girls * 08 Guessing Games * 09 Delayed Reaction * 10 At Tension * 11 Go Solo


By 1982 Hall & Oates were among the biggest selling artists in the USA, rivaling the likes of Michael Jackson for pop supremacy. 1980's 'Voices' and 81's 'Private Eyes' had put them over the top, the endless supply of hooks and melodies leading to a truckload of top ten singles. 'H20' retained the pop sensibilities, the music inoffensive to say the least, but the AOR quotient was raised higher. There were some harder guitar workouts and the synth attack was state of the art for the time. Having said that, this is miles away from the AOR the likes of Journey were peddling. It was far more accessible, whereas Journey seemed to release the softer tracks as singles, which in reality were far heavier. 'H20's quality was further enhanced by the co-production of Neil Kernon, who was becoming a dab hand at producing AOR classics.

The Songs
'Maneater' is the first track and still the most well known hit off the album. As a single it was bound to succeed, there are barely any guitars and the overt use of keyboards, bass and sax gave it an easy listening appeal. 'Crime Pays takes the same route, no guitars and an abundance of bass grooves mixed with funky synths. Quite low key melody wise. 'Art Of Heartbreak' is pure pop. It once again features zero guitar, something real AOR thrives on. Three songs in and you would say the sax is the lead guitar. 'One On One' was a smash hit, a keyboard ridden ballad, handled with precision. Sublime chorus, but once again absent guitar. 'Open All Night' is more upbeat, nice synths and a class AOR guitar solo- finally. 'Family Man', yet another hit, is a shining melodic rocker, bundles of twists and turns with the hook and the guitar solo to the forefront. Classic. 'Italian Girls' is an outrageous ode to Oates favourite women, but nifty little bridge and chorus rate it highly. 'Guessing Games' moves nicely with a dual combination of riffs and synths in the verse, then another satisfying chorus. 'Go Solo' caps it off on a high note- the guitar solo perfectly placed amidst amazing sequences of thrilling chord changes. 'H20' may be a slow starter, but picks up massive steam as it progresses.

In Summary
'H20' should not be discounted as a semi-AOR legend simply because the lads were among the biggest hitmakers of the era. Back then audiences had an ear for this stuff, easy listening melodic rock. If this were released now it wouldn't even be allowed on radio. Hall & Oates have found massive favour with AOR fans for efforts like this, and why not? Pop perhaps, but the AOR angle is never too far off. Some of H & O best cuts are tracks never released as singles. That makes albums like this worthwhile picking up. They were in fact a lot more compelling than even their no 1 singles.

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#1 | thejbl on July 31 2009 13:53:21
masterpiece yeah - I worship Hall and Oates

certainly better than muesli in the morning
#2 | Eric on June 15 2012 00:20:43
'Family Man' was co-written by Mike Oldfield and supposedly about Rick Fenn (10cc). It appeared on Oldfield's 'Five Miles Out' album released the same year. HandO's version is better IMHO.

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