Release Date: 02.11.03
Record label: U-Watch
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
by: matt cibula
I absolutely cannot believe that I'm about to say this, but here goes: I absolutely love the new record from Hall and Oates. I know, I know—you're worried about me. Well, get in line; no one I know can believe it either. But there you have it.
See, if Do It for Love was just a return to Hall & Oates' hitmaking '80s form, I wouldn't be all that excited about it. I didn't like that whole era of H+O—those were some lowest common denominator popwürks for real: "Private Eyes," "Maneater," I disliked them all, and I especially hated the way I couldn't get them out of my head. No, I was all down with the earlier, weirder Hall and Oates: the mystical "Sara Smile," the epic soul of "She's Gone," stuff like that. So when they reinvented themselves as brutally efficient pop hitmakers I thought they'd sold out and I turned my teenage head. (I'm really feeling old right now.)
But I'll be damned if this isn't a great synthesis between their early Philly "blue-eyed soul" (awful term—people should just come out and say "white") period and their later Perfect Pop Radio Song period. It jumps off to a cool acoustic guitar-led soul song "Man on a Mission," which uses the classic Sam Cooke "take a popular cliché and structure an entire song around it and sing it like you mean it" formula, and never really lets up for its entire 56-minute length.
We get their big #1 Adult Contempo hit "Do It for Love," which is a little too smoothed-out for my tastes, but is still well-nigh perfect—Daryl Hall's voice has lost none of its soaring earnestness with age, and gained a hell of a lot of depth. Songs like the beautiful and funky "Getaway Car," the arpeggiated "'She' Got Me Bad," and the pretty "Heartbreak Time," which sounds like the Chi-Lites gone country will linger in your cerebral cortex a lot longer than you might think.
There are a couple tracks here that come out of nowhere, and they are the true standouts. A collaboration with old homeboy Todd Rundgren on Gregg Alexander's "Someday We'll Know" works way better than you'd think it would. "Miss DJ" hits a southern funk-rock groove that hasn't been heard since the Allman Brothers or so, a perfect bed for Hall's voice to lay on. "Make You Stay" detours into '90s hair metal category, with surprisingly great results. And "Intuition" is an uptempo song written (as are several songs here) by some young English songwriters with a hint—just a hint, mind you, but a hint nonetheless—of two-step UK garage in the verses. Craig David meets Hall and Oates? Absolutely brilliant.
Listen: this maybe isn't the deepest record of the year, nor the most cutting-edge. But it's frequently lovely, slightly experimental within its own framework, and relentlessly tuneful. And, if anything, both Hall and Oates sound better than they did 20 years ago. So yes, I'm voting yes on this great record, which I never thought I would have liked in a million years. I amaze myself. 17-Feb-2003 11:02 AM