Eric Pope has been a Community Manager at Harmonix for the past 3 years. In that time he’s managed to destroy the Community department’s slam dunk record (previously 0 dunks) and singlehandedly raised the department horse from a newborn foal to a healthy young adult. If you see him at events, make sure to say hello!
Here’s the thing, guys. I know that John Oates had a really goofy moustache in the ‘80s. Possibly the best moustache of the 1980s, with all respect due to Freddie Mercury’s and Tom Selleck’s iconic soup strainers. But if you’ve never looked past Oates’ hirsute upper lip and actually listened to the music he and Daryl Hall created over their 40+ year career, you have missed out on something special. I say this because I, in fact, was someone who’d dismissed the duo as nothing more than corny cheese masters for a number of misguided years.
During the heyday of the mix CD, I was tasked with creating a “Moustache Mix” for us to listen to while preparing a show my college comedy group was putting on. Long hours needed to be spent in a cavernous scene shop building sets, so this was to be a CRUCIAL MIX. To me at the time, there was no better musical embodiment of the ‘stache than H&O, so I kicked off the CD with their 1982 smash hit, “Maneater.” Little did I know that after looping that CD over a dozen times I would be converted to a full blown Hall & Oates apostle.
The build-up of “Maneater”’s intro is completely captivating. Starting with a head-bopping bass line from Tom “T-Bone” Wolk immediately setting the groove, imbuing it with a slight Motown flavor. Then that smooth, silky sax comes in, courtesy of Charlie “Mr. Casual” DeChant. That saxophone, coupled with Hall’s spooky synth and Oates’ reggae guitar strikes, gels to create a song that really doesn’t sound like anything else. It fuses genres while defying them, all the while retaining the singular Hall & Oates sound. “Maneater”, included in our 3-pack, spent 4 weeks in the number-one slot on the Billboard Hot 100, longer than any other hit the band ever recorded.
“Maneater” managed to penetrate the ironic armor of my early 20s and stick with me. I needed to find more music like it. This became my next lesson in the magic of Hall & Oates’ smooth Philly “rock and soul”- none of their songs sound alike! Between 1977 and 1984, the duo had six number-one hits (including the three songs in this pack!), each of which was their own special snowflake. Quite often, popular bands tend to find a formula that works for them and stick with it. Hall & Oates never seemed interested in such a path, though, instead opting to constantly evolve their sound from album to album and single to single. The next song in our pack, “Private Eyes,” is a poppy, harmony-laden jam, driven by Daryl Hall’s piano, and an instantly recognizable guitar riff supplied by Mr. G.E. Smith (whom you may recognize as band leader from SNL in the ‘80s & ‘90s). The real star of this song, though, is undoubtedly the handclaps. Note to any aspiring bands out there: your songs need more handclaps. “Private Eyes” dares to be a song that isn’t at all about detectives, despite its name, but instead reveals that Daryl Hall has a pair of eyes that are private. An affliction which, I may point out, modern ophthalmology has almost entirely eradicated.
My journey into the music of Hall & Oates didn’t reach its El Dorado until just this past year, when the late great Fish McGill came to the office with a shiny new box set, entitled Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates [Ed. Note: Fish is very much alive and even did the artwork for this post.]. Fish allowed me to borrow the set, and I devoured its entire four disc offering. I can’t properly describe all the treasures contained within, but I highly recommend it for the H&O completist. There will be days at work when I get stressed out, and I’ll throw on this set and it totally puts me back on track.
The final song in this pack is the amazing “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).” I love the parenthetical in there, it really lets you know how strongly they do not want to go for whatever “that” is. The song tackles a similar theme as Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”, except does it 12 years before Mr. Loaf ever gets around to it.” I Can’t Go For That” is a powerhouse of mood, with a groove that is equal parts funky and sensual. It also enjoyed the rare feat of reaching number one on both the Hot 100, as well as the R&B charts. Recently it has come to light that Michael Jackson admitted to Daryl Hall that he lifted the iconic bass line for “Billie Jean” directly from this song. I can’t think of a better compliment to Hall & Oates’ musical sensibilities than to be copied by the King of Pop himself.
Here’s something fun. Next time a friend asks you to do something you want to do, simply reply “I can’t go for that.” If they push the issue, cut them off with “No can do.” You’re welcome!
This pack is an incredible one, and I hope you’ll check it out. As I said before, all three songs were Number 1 hits, and will surely liven up any Rock Band party you’re hosting. Click here to see a video preview of the tracks!