Hall and Oates, “Open All Night” from H20 (1982): One Track Mind

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“Open All Night” arrived on H20 in October 1982 during a period when Hall and Oates was moving toward increasingly mechanized music, and ever-goofier videos to boot. This song, which closed out Side 1, served as this striking reminder of everything that made the duo more than the sum of their MTV-era hits.

Daryl Hall’s tortured, utterly unguarded vocal — as deep as any he’d record — allows this cuckold’s lament to connect on an emotional level that big Hall and Oates sellers like “Maneater” and “One on One” (both of which went Top 10, with the former staying at No. 1 for four weeks) simply couldn’t approach.

G.E. Smith then adds a scalding turn on guitar before giving way to a billowing keyboard-driven coda, this series of classic improvisations from Hall and — finally — a jealously paranoid “don’t-ask-me-to-tell-you; no-I-don’t-want-to-tell-you” chorus, brilliantly intertwined with Hall and Oates partner John Oates.

Anybody who says Hall and Oates had lost whatever R&B grit they’d once boasted by this point needs only cue up “Open All Night.” The song, and the side, come to a stark and ominous close — emblematic, really, of the darker tone that pervaded the often-muted H20, but also of this group’s enduring powers.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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