& Oates - Our Kind Of Soul (Absolute)
been thrust back into the public consciousness, and the
top ten, by Uniting Nations' sampling of their US chart-topper
Out Of Touch, it seems as good a time as any for Daryl Hall
and John Oates to unleash this collection of covers and
Philadelphia duo were hugely successful in the early to
mid-eighties, scoring a string of number ones stateside
while also achieving sizeable hits in the UK with I Can't
Go For That (No Can Do), Maneater and Family Man. But it
is well over twenty years since their soft, soul-infused
rock propelled them to such lofty heights so how has their
music evolved since?
almost entirely gone are the keyboards that featured so
strongly on their most popular work, as are the dramatic,
near-falsetto vocals form Daryl Hall. Instead we are left
with acoustic guitar, soft strings, syrupy production and
of the tracks are cover versions of the duo's all-time favourite
songs so we have renditions of The O'Jays' Used To Be My
Girl, You Are Everything by The Stylistics and Al Green's
I'm Still In Love With You. But often the motivation behind
such an exercise often seems to be songwriters' block rather
than a genuine desire to add something new to the originals
and that sadly seems to be the case with Our Kind Of Soul.
refreshing exception to this rule was the Beautiful South's
collection of completely overhauled re-workings, but the
same cannot be said of Hall and Oates' perfectly competent
yet remarkably flat interpretations of The Four Tops' Standing
In The Shadows Of Love and Barry White's Can't Get Enough
Of Your Love. Two such powerful and energetic songs are
effectively neutered, turning into bland, plodding shadows
of their former selves.
are three new offerings alongside the covers but they are
similarly easy on the ear and uneventful. One of them, Soul
Violins, contains the hilariously cheesy chorus of "I
hear soul violins when you walk through the door" which
is no less baffling once you have read the extensive cover
notes that accompany each song than it was before.
is the musical equivalent of a couple going through the
motions of life together long after their relationship has
petered out with no inspiration or passion save vain attempts
to rekindle what they once had by re-living the past.
if you loved Hall and Oates during their heyday and have
mellowed as they have over the past two decades then this
album will form the perfect soundtrack to kicking your shoes
off and relaxing with a cup of tea in front of the fireplace.
It is, after all, a very nicely sung, happily inoffensive
album, which may be ideal for Valentines Day listening,
but it contains not one moment of excitement over seventeen
comebacks and cover versions often divide listeners into
two love / hate camps. I tried to love Our Kind Of Soul
for the sake of Hall and Oates' back catalogue, then I tried
to hate it for the exact same reason, but all I could feel
was passionless indifference towards such a lukewarm collection
of sugary ballads and watered down soul. Yes, Daryl Hall
has a great voice but if only he could work up some of the
old magic with John Oates to produce some striking new material
rather than this bucket of middle of the road slush.