Stories behind memorable albums of the 1970s as told by the artists

Hall & Oates leave them wanting more at the Borgata

You know that old adage, “Always leave them wanting more?” I’m pretty sure that just about everyone in the sold-out Borgata ballroom in Atlantic City Friday night, June 20, 2014, would have been happy to sit there for a few more hours and listen to Hall & Oates.

The recently inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famers performed a tight, 90-minute set, that included two encores, and certainly left me wanting more.

The thing that strikes me about Daryl and John at this stage of their careers is that they genuinely seem to still be enjoying what they do. And, no breaking news here: they’re very good at it.

Of course, all the hits were there:

“Maneater” – No. 1 from the “H2O” album (1982).
“Out of Touch” – No. 1 from “Big Bam Boom” (1984).
“Do It For Love” – No. 114 (and should have been higher) from “Do It For Love” (2002).
“She’s Gone” – No. 7 (Editorial comment: How can this not be a No. 1 song?) from “Abandoned Luncheonette (1973).
“Sara Smile” – No. 4 (Editorial comment: How can this not be a No. 1 song?) from “Daryl Hall and John Oates” (1976).
“Do What You Want, Be What You Are” – No. 39 from “Bigger Than Both of Us” (1976).
“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” – No. 1 from “Private Eyes” (1981).
“Rich Girl” – No. 1 from “Bigger Than Both of Us” (1976).
“You Make My Dreams” – No. 5 (Editorial comment: How can this not be a No. 1 song?) from “Voices” (1980).
“Kiss on My List” – No. 1 from “Voices” (1980).
“Private Eyes” – No. 1 from “Private Eyes” (1981).

But the highlight of any Hall & Oates concert for me is anything they do from the “Abandoned Luncheonette” album. Friday night’s performance of “She’s Gone,” a song they admit they’ve played at every show for the past 40 years or so, was outstanding. As good as that song is on the record, it was simply chill-inducing to hear live at the Borgata.

The other song from “Abandoned Luncheonette” in the set list was the Oates-penned “Las Vegas Turnaround.” It’s become a favorite of mine because of the backstory that John tells about the genesis of the song, a story that’s retold in the “Abandoned Luncheonette” chapter of “The Vinyl Dialogues.”

The song is kind of a prequel to another famous Hall & Oates song that would be written by the duo and released in 1976, three years after “Las Vegas Turnaround.” If you’ve read the book or know the story, don’t give out any spoilers. If you don’t know the story, pick up a copy of “The Vinyl Dialogues.” I’m biased, but it’s the coolest story in a book full of cool stories about memorable albums of the 1970s.

So here’s my idea to enhance the Hall & Oates experience, and it’s completely selfish from a fan’s viewpoint: Make the first hour of a Hall & Oates show the “All The Hits Hour.” Add another hour to the show, and call it the “Deep Album Cuts” hour (I’ll take “When The Morning Comes” and “Had I Known You Better Then” from “Abandoned Luncheonette” as well as “Camellia” from the 1975 “Daryl Hall & John Oates” album.)

Then after a couple of encores, bring three chairs on stage – one for Daryl, one for John and one for me – and I’ll interview them. Then we’ll all go for beer afterwards. All 5,000 of us. We’ll let Todd Rundgren pick up the tab as payback for overproducing “War Babies” and making it sound like a Todd Rundgren album.

Just a thought. But that sure would eliminate the whole “leave them wanting more” thing, huh?


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  1. I’m not sure I know which Todd R album you think “War Babies” sounds like, but I think they were pretty brave to step aside from the pretty melodies and hooks for a while, to make an album that is at once challenging and groundbreaking.

    • I make the observation not to disrespect Todd Rundgren nor the effort of Hall & Oates to follow “Abandoned Luncheonette” with something so drastically different like “War Babies.” I only echo what John Oates has already said: that with Todd producing “War Babies,” the album did feature a lot of Todd’s influence. I’m thinking “War Babies” would be a good H&O album to include on Volume II of The Vinyl Dialogues. It would be interesting to hear from H&O what went into the decision to use Rundgren as the producer and to take such risks with their music early in their careers. History has proven that the record is, as you say, both challenging and groundbreaking. – M2

  2. Thanks for the link!

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