After listening to the new CD box set Do What you Want Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall and John Oates, I’m reminded of why I have been a fan since high school (circa 1980s). This 4 disc 74 song CD box set chronicles Daryl and John’s long and very successful music career. They are the biggest selling pop duo of all time, outselling Simon and Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers. If all of this music was not exciting enough, you get a book complete with background information on how all of these 74 sounds came about. Daryl and John talk about the songs and what inspired them to write and sing these songs. I personally got some burning questions answered, like the meaning of the song Ennui on a Mountain.
If you don’t know the story of how Daryl & John met, it was really just a chance meeting. They met in the Adelphi Ballroom in Philadelphia in the late 60s at a talent show where they were both playing with their separate bands. A gang fight broke out and they were running out of the venue. They met in an elevator and the rest, as they say, is history. After meeting, they realized they had a lot in common musically. After pursuing a short-lived music career with their respective bands, they decided to make music together.
The first disc covers some of the music off their first album, Whole Oats, which was released in 1972. It was really refreshing to hear all of these old songs again and, in fact, several of them are autobiographical. A standout from the Whole Oats album would be “Fall in Philadelphia”. This is a song that Daryl Hall penned about what he and John were experiencing in Philadelphia in the early 70s. This song has a really catchy tune, but when you listen to the lyrics you realize that this was not a happy time for Daryl and John. Daryl makes reference in the song to his bike being stolen, “Johnny” being beat up, and receiving 20 bills to every letter. The rest of the first disc includes other music from Whole Oates as well as their next two albums, Abandoned Luncheonette and War Babies. You will find five previously unreleased live tracks from a concert they gave in London. To hear these old songs live was quite a treat as they are not ones usually included in their current set list.
The second disc covers material from the Daryl Hall & John Oates Album (the Silver Album) all the way to a few songs from their first self-produced 1980 album Voices. So many of these songs, on this second disc, are superb songs and you wonder why they really never became hits. One song in particular that stands out is “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” off the 1978 album Along the Red Ledge. This is such a fun and breezy sounding song, before you know it, you catch yourself humming along and singing the words. This song never peaked higher than 42 on the pop charts. In addition, you also find an early song that Daryl wrote with Sara Allen, “August Day”.
The third disc covers the rest of the Voices album through Live at the Apollo. Most of the songs on this disc are going to be the ones that the general public is most familiar with. This is the disc that contains some of their biggest pop hits like “Private Eyes”, “You Make My Dreams”, “Maneater”, and “Family Man”. A lot of their hits, on this disc, were written with the help of the Allen sisters, Janna and Sara. In fact, Daryl even refers to “Private Eyes” as a “real family song, the Allen Sisters and me.” In addition, this disc digs really deep into the H20 album and includes a song that was never released as single, the powerful ballad “Go Solo”. It’s also includes a song cut from the H20 album, the previously unreleased John Oates penned “Don’t Go Out”.
The fourth disc contains some of Daryl and John’s newer material, like “Do It For Love” and “Forever For You”. These are both songs off of their 2003 Do it for Love CD. Also, included is song that was never released, “All The Way From Philadelphia”. To this fan, it sounds like a classic Hall & Oates song and you can’t just listen to it once, you will want to hear it again and again. In addition, you hear Daryl’s version of “Have You Ever Been in Love”. This was a song he helped write and eventually was given to Celine Dion. Celine did have a hit with this song, but Daryl’s version is superior. Another standout, on this fourth disc, is the song I want Someone which was recorded during a Live From Daryl’s House session with John Oates. To bring this compilation set full circle, the final song on disc 4 is “Dreamer”. “Dreamer” is a song Daryl wrote in 1972 but it was never released.
Of course, you can’t please everybody when you make a greatest hits album. These guys have been making music (and history) since the late 60s and if they were to include every single one of their greatest hits, this could have easily been a 6 or 7 CD disk set. I did find it surprising that no songs were included from their albums Marigold Sky, Beauty on a Backstreet, Livetime, and Our Kind of Soul, but this fan is willing to forgive them because they included lots of other treasures in this fabulous box set.
To purchase Do What You Want Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates go to Amazon.com.
To read this author’s other Daryl Hall & John Oates articles check out Top 10 Daryl Hall & John Oates Songs and Top Ten Songs by Daryl Hall & John Oates.
Live from Daryl’s House
Booklet from Do What you Want Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates