‘More ominous and less pop’: The intriguing tale of the last song on the last Hall and Oates album

John Oates’ first solo project, 2002’s Phunk Shui, wasn’t a huge hit in the style of his earlier successes with Hall and Oates, but it sparked a rootsier return to the studio for the duo — and even included a song that he’d eventually re-record with Daryl Hall.

Alas, “Love in a Dangerous Time” is also the final track on what appears to be the final studio recording from Hall and Oates, closing out 2003’s Do It For Love.

Oates admits, however, that he prefers his original take — which was even more stripped down. “I wrote that song with Arthur Baker and Tom Farragur,” Oates says, in a new talk with Michael Cavacini. “It was about a changing world as I saw it — AIDS, violence and turmoil. I prefer my solo version because the music is more ominous and less pop.”

“Love in a Dangerous Time” had actually been around for a nearly a decade when Oates picked it up again, and he became intrigued by the old demo. “When I heard that, I thought, ‘Wow,'” Oates told Jill Sipnis of Billboard in 2002. “I wrote it in ’91, and what l was thinking about was AIDS. Even though that was the original inspi­ration for the song, it speaks to the times today just as well.”

Meanwhile, Oates says Hall was struck by the back-to-basics approach of Phunk Shui, which had been recorded with a very live, small-band feel. That sparked a return for Hall and Oates and, ultimately, the inclusion of Oates’ “Love in a Dangerous Time” on the subsequent Do It For Love. “When I resurrected the song for my solo album, I realized it was timely and pertinent to the things going on in the world today,” Oates said in 2003, talking to Charlie Melvin of the Birmingham Post. “Daryl felt the same way, so we decided to re-cut it for the new album.”

At that point, Do It For the Love was the first Hall and Oates project in six years, and just the second since 1990. It charted 18 spots higher than the previous Marigold Sky in the U.S., and gave the duo its initial Top 40 UK hit since 1984’s Big Bam Boom. But they haven’t issued an album of original material since.

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  • Mertin

    Their Christmas album had a handful of original songs, and they knocked it out of the freakin’ park IMO.