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Daryl Hall

+ {Gulliver}

One half of blue-eyed soul/soft-rock duo DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES, singer/keyboardist HALL was also behind a string of solo sets that, although not as big an impact, nestled into the hearts and minds of his loyal fanbase.
Born Daryl Franklin Hohl, October 11, 1946, Pottstown, Pennsylvania, he was the oldest of the enterprising pop duo, who’d finally, after many hits and several top-selling albums behind them, reaped the rewards as America’s most chart-topping duo since The EVERLY BROTHERS. It was a different story from his humble beginnings as a session singer for a variety of acts (including Kenny Gamble And The Romeos), before he fronted The Temptones, The Cellar Door, and The Executive Suite. This, in turn, led to him into soft-rock quartet GULLIVER, singing and playing keyboards, alongside Tim Moore (guitar), Tom Sellers (bass/keyboards) and Jim Helmer (drums). The band released one self-titled LP for Elektra Records, in January 1970 (hung over from ‘69). Needless to say, GULLIVER {*4} was a small fish in a big pond; derivative of the times.
HALL & OATES had kept in touch, even though John had decamped from stamping ground Temple University to another college, with a subsequent year-out (or two) in Europe. Around the turn of the decade, with Oates now back in Philly circulation, the duo began writing songs in a rootsy folk vein, songs that finally drew in the attention of Tommy Mottola, whom, as their manager, found them an opening at Atlantic Records.
Struggling at first to find an audience for LPs such as `Whole Oats’ (1972), `Abandoned Luncheonette’ (1973) and `War Babies’ (1974) – the latter produced by TODD RUNDGREN – a move to New York and R.C.A. Records helped them on their way to superstardom; top-selling singles `Sara Smile’ (spawned from the `Daryl Hall & John Oates’ album) and `Rich Girl’ (from 1976’s `Bigger Than Both Of Us’), kicked off their campaign trail in fine Philly soul aplomb.
A relatively lean period in the late 70s saw studio albums such as `Beauty On A Back Street’ (1977), `Along The Red Ledge’ (1978) and `X-Static’ (1979), take a bit of a critical pounding from the new wave-fixated rags, although when 1980’s `Voices’ reeled off four hits (top of the heap, the 1981 chart-topper `Kiss On My List’), DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES had finally won over a global market.
By this stage, DARYL HALL had moonlighted with guitarist/producer ROBERT FRIPP on a solo set, SACRED SONGS (1980) {*7}. Leftover from 1977 and thought out of place among the punk elite and/or new wave kids, the enterprising record still managed to reach the American Top 60. On a very different level to his pop-fuelled Philly soul antics with H&O, fans of both HALL and indeed, FRIPP, would salivate over the atmospheric `Something In 4-4 Time’, the 7-minute `Babs And Babs’, `Urban Landscape’, `NYCNY’ and the punk-y `You Burn Me Up I’m A Cigarette’ – one’d never hear HALL so uncommercial again; soundscaper FRIPP, of course, worked with BRIAN ENO and DAVID BOWIE around the same period.
The rest of the 80s saw HALL & OATES go from heroes to zeroes, as with each set from 1981’s `Private Eyes’ – showcasing the No.1 title track and the similarly-feted `I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ – to 1988’s `Ooh Yeah!’, sank successively sales-wise. Losing ground after two further chart-scaling 45s, `Maneater’ (from 1982’s `H20’) and `Out Of Touch’ (from 1984’s `Big Bam Boom’), the duo had a blast from the past with TEMPTATIONS pair DAVID RUFFIN and EDDIE KENDRICK in a “Live At The Apollo” setting.
After the dust had settled, DARYL HALL recorded his long-awaited sophomore set: the synth-driven THREE HEARTS IN A HAPPY ENDING MACHINE (1986) {*6}. A transatlantic Top 30 record boasting three hit singles, `Dreamtime’ (#5), `Foolish Pride’ (#33) and `Someone Like You’ – with guitar solo! – (#57), this was clearly an album the singer wanted to make, free of the shackles of team play, and surrounded by producers DAVE STEWART and T-Bone Wolk, plus a stellar cast that included JONI MITCHELL and BOB GELDOF on some vox.
On the back of another mediocre H&O album, `Change Of Season’ (1990), DARYL HALL checked in with his third outing, SOUL ALONE (1993) {*5}, a record effective in pushing the envelope in updating his sound by way of minor hit single, `I’m In A Philly Mood’. Not fruitful by any stretch of the imagination (it reached only US #177 and UK #55), the ladies’ man had lost none of his debonair or smouldering good looks, but that could not buy him a home-soil hit, instead there was a modicum of British success by way of the attendant single, `Stop Loving Me, Stop Loving You’, squeezing into the Top 30; `Help Me Find A Way To Your Heart’ was a minor hit.
Turning his attention to the UK, and after the `Gloryland’ single – a collaboration with SOUNDS OF BLACKNESS for the USA football World Cup – reached Top 40 status, Daryl surfaced once again when credited in 1995 on DUSTY SPRINGFIELD’s modest hit, `Wherever Would I Be’; while B-Legit featured Daryl on `Ghetto Smile’.
1996’s solo CAN’T STOP DREAMING (1996) {*5} – released initially only in Japan – was left in the can for a year while H&O delivered their `Marigold Sky’ set in ’97; this was the pair’s final effort until 2003’s `Do It For Love’ and 2004’s `Our Kind Of Soul’. The aforementioned solo set was aimed strictly at the AOR market; its highlights coming through his re-make of the H&O classic, `She’s Gone’, and other ALAN GORRIE-shared pieces.
14 years down the line, split in 2001 from Sara Allen after 28 years as a couple (he married Amanda Aspinall in December 2009), DARYL HALL would make his smooth-jazz re-appearance on 2011’s LAUGHING DOWN CRYING {*6}. It marked a poignant collaboration on three tracks with producer and best friend T-Bone Wolk, who passed away prior to its completion. A multi-instrumentalist in his own right, the singer was augmented by other producers/musicians, Paul Pesco (guitar) and Greg Bieck (keyboards), who helped guide him on the likes of `Message To Ya’.
© MC Strong/MCS Jan2016

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