Thursday, December 03, 2009

Album of the Day #172: PRIVATE EYES - Daryl Hall & John Oates

Artist: Daryl Hall & John Oates

Title: Private Eyes
Year: 1981
Label: RCA
Songs: Private Eyes [Sara Allen, Janna Allen, Daryl Hall & Warren Pash]/Looking For A Good Sign [Daryl Hall]/I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)/Mano A Mano [John Oates]/Did It In A Minute [Sara Allen, Janna Allen & Daryl Hall]/Head Above Water/Tell Me What You Want [Sara Allen & Daryl Hall]/Friday Let Me Down/Unguarded Minute/You Imagination [Daryl Hall]/Some Men [Daryl Hall]
Written by: Sara Allen, Daryl Hall & John Oates, except where noted
Produced by: Daryl Hall, John Oates & Neil Kernon
Thoughts: If there's one album by Hall & Oates that should be in everyone's collection, it is easily Private Eyes. Seriously, the three singles on this album are probably the best of the early 1980s and 28 years later, they're just as powerful.
The fact that there's no filler here also helps. None of these songs feel like throwaways, although the fact that Daryl is the more prolific of the two is annoyingly evident. John gets just one solo credit, "Mano A Mano", which is the silliest track on the record, but also a pretty good one. It, along with "Friday Let Me Down", is his only lead vocal, meaning that his role in the duo is rather questionable. He doesn't provide a unique sound to the backing vocals, which turn out to sound like the most robotic, dated parts of the album, behind Daryl.
To me, this is the one annoying piece of Hall & Oates. Based on the six albums that I have, they don't consistently create a unique harmony, like the ones that we associate with some of the classic duos (The Everly Brothers and The Righteous Brothers come to mind). It always feels like they simply take turns singing lead on a song. Thankfully, the two have such distinct vocals that it makes the songs vary from one to the next, but the beautiful harmonies we hear on "Sara Smile", "She's Gone" and "Rich Girl" don't creep up to much on this album or the next.
The singles on Private Eyes are as good as anything else. "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" is one of the most haunting singles ever and probably the only time a drum machine was put to good use. "Private Eyes" is a fantastic opener and "Did It In A Minute" has a fantastic hook ("Ya did it, ya did it, ya did it in a minute!"). Although there are no songs on here that could have also been singles, the album tracks are still great pop gems. "Looking For A Good Sign", "Tell Me What You Want" and "Your Imagination" are definitely highlights.
It is also interesting that the overall album does have a very dark tone, with songs about rejected love and stalkers, but isn't that what all '80s songs are about?

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