John Oates continues to dig deeper into his musical roots as a fan of blues and R&B with a new live album to be released in February. Recorded at Sirius XM Radio, it will be called The Bluesville Sessions.
Though Oates is most famous as one half of the Philly-soul-meets-smooth-pop duo of Hall and Oates, he told us in a free-ranging SER Sitdown that his more recent turn towards Delta stylings on the terrific solo album Mississippi Mile was “really an autobiography of the musical influences and artists and songs, the guitar players and singers who made me want to be a musician way before I met Daryl.”
The live set continues along that path, Oates has said, offering “basically my blues band’s live set.” As for what’s next, Oates tells RollingStone.com: “I don’t know where that writing is going to take me yet — but we’ll see.”
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on John Oates, Daryl Hall and their record-smashing collaborations as Hall and Oates. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: JOHN OATES: John Oates has always been more than the Other Guy in Hall and Oates. In fact, the mustachioed one co-wrote half of H&O’s six Billboard No. 1 songs, including “Out of Touch,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” and “Maneater.” That’s to say nothing of his writing contributions to memorable sides like “Sara Smile,” “Adult Education,” “How Does It Feel To Be Back,” “You Make My Dreams” and “She’s Gone.” Oates even co-wrote and sang backup on Icehouse’s 1987 Top 10 hit “Electric Blue,” before starting a low-key parallel career on his own. While personal efforts like 2002’s Phunk Shui and 2008’s 1000 Miles of Life were well received, neither garnered the critical praise and broad attention afforded his newest project, the gritty, cool-rocking Mississippi Mile. He stopped by for an SER Sitdown to talk about the new album, as well as key moments from his career with Daryl Hall, the Temptations, Todd Rundgren and, yeah, the blues.
GIMME FIVE: HALL AND OATES: Hall and Oates are, of course, the poster boys for what happens when hair gel meets R&B. Funny thing is, they were originally anything but polished. Hall had reportedly been in an early Philly band with Thom Bell, later a central figure in that city’s R&B legacy. Along the way, H&O tried out an acoustic bent, art rock, guitar-oriented sounds, then new wave, mainstream pop, retro-Motown, keyboard-dominated dance music and moldy oldies. Of course, nobody bought any of it until those last few permutations, most presented through the gauzy sheen of MTV. H&O, even now, are best known for affixing synthesizers to an already established blue-eyed soul sound. That means I have to hate them? OK, I tried. (“One on One,” a tepid basketball metaphor taken to teeth-splintering extremes, certainly tried the patience.) But, in the end, well, no can do.
DARYL HALL – LAUGHING DOWN CRYING (2011): Apparently playing live on “Live from Daryl’s House” has had an impact on Hall. He performs with a crisp, uncharacteristically loose sound here, in keeping with the friendly, free-form performances which populate that addictively watchable web show — and a world away from the synthesized urban pop that helped make Hall and Oates a signature act of the 1980s. At the same time, Hall retains every bit of the pop-song finesse that gave the duo a truckload of hits back then, and his voice sounds surprisingly resilient after all of these years. A welcome return to form for Hall, who also hadn’t put out a solo studio effort in more than a decade.
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: HALL AND OATES: Call them a guilty pleasure. (We have.) But the truth is, there’s more to Hall and Oates than the sum of their blow-dried caricature. So, we set about looking for tunes that made some points: That they brilliantly connected the dots between new wave and and rock music’s R&B ancestry. That they were more than just Daryl. That they had an untold complexity, leaving aside those awful videos. Included are tracks from Voices, Private Eyes, Greatest Hits: Rock ‘n’ Soul Pt. 1, and Hall’s crazy-cool late-1970s collaboration with Robert Fripp, Sacred Songs.
ONE TRACK MIND: JOHN OATES ON ‘SHE’S GONE,’ AN ALL-NEW ‘YOU MAKE MY DREAMS,’ “BACK TOGETHER AGAIN’: On this special edition of Something Else! Reviews’ One Track Mind, we handed the reins over to John Oates, one half of the pop-soul hitmaking duo Hall and Oates. Hear more about the love-gone-wrong beginnings of “She’s Gone,” and how the birth of Oates’ son sparked a standout solo track. He also laments that doo wop never gets its due, and how he remade a signature Hall and Oates hit into a boot-scootin’ swing tune on his new record, “Mississippi Mile.”