Daryl Hall - lead vocals, keyboards, guitar; John Oates - lead vocals, guitar; T-Bone Wolk - bass, vocals; GE Smith - guitar; Micky Curry - drums; Charlie DeShant - saxophone, percussion; Larry Fast - keyboards
Rarely does a band suddenly achieve massive global success on their ninth album and nearly a decade into their career, but such was the case with Hall & Oates. Following years of relentless touring and recording under record company tutelage in the 1970s, where they achieved modest success with a string of albums that vacillated between folk, soul, rock, and pop, Daryl Hall and John Oates struck finally struck multi-platinum by taking total control of their recordings. When they embarked on the sessions for their breakthrough 1980 album, Voices, which would begin to more clearly define their vision of blue-eyed soul, they took several bold steps that defied all music industry logic at the time. Not only did they take on producing the album themselves, but they recorded with their longtime touring band instead of seasoned studio vets, and enlisted Daryl Hall's girlfriend and her younger sister as songwriting collaborators. This new approach paid off way beyond their expectations and over the course of the next year, Voices would spawn no less than five hit singles, with two of them ("Kiss on My List" and "Everytime You Go Away") shooting straight up the charts to number one.
With Voices still riding high in the charts, the duo released the follow-up, Private Eyes in September of 1981, further defining their sound and spawning four more top 40 singles, including two more number ones with the title song and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)." In the case of the latter song, it became one of the rare songs ever recorded by a white act to hit number one on both the R&B and the pop charts. They also embraced music videos, and with MTV launching literally a month prior to the release of Private Eyes, they soon established a ubiquitous presence that would help launch their careers.
One of several performances recorded by the King Biscuit Flower Hour on the Private Eyes tour, this full unedited concert recording captures Hall & Oates at the absolute peak of creativity and performing their most popular songs when they were fresh, new, and exciting. With their special fusion of rock & roll, soul, rhythm and blues, and a smattering of new wave and hard rock elements thrown into the mix (which they dubbed "rock and soul"), this live recording captures an energetic and hit-filled set in front of a packed audience at the Hampton Coliseum in April of 1982, one of the truly magic moments in terms of their live performing career.
Over the course of this lengthy set, Hall & Oates do revisit a few of their choice 1970s hits, like 1973's "She's Gone," 1975's "Sara Smile," 1976's "Rich Girl," and 1979's "Wait For Me," but other than those four songs and an extended workout on a medley of favorite covers, fans will be delighted to discover that the remainder of the material is exclusively sourced from Voices and Private Eyes. Both albums are very well represented here, with half a dozen key tracks from Voices and another four from Private Eyes, all included in this performance.
After kicking things off with a pair of lesser known Voices tracks ("How Does It Feel To Be Back" and "Diddy Doo Wop") and another pair from Private Eyes ("Mano A Mano" and "Did It In A Minute"), the duo launches into high gear and never lets go for the rest of the night. Nearly all of their most memorable material follows including the aforementioned songs to represent their earlier years and nearly everything a Hall & Oates fan could desire. Even those who have a distaste for early 1980s production, which often did tend toward the robotic, will be enamored with these live performances which are overflowing with sexy, seductive grooves. Much of this credit goes to Hall & Oates remarkably agile band. Consisting of bassist T-Bone Wolk and guitarist G.E. Smith (two Saturday Night Live band vets), ex-T-Rex drummer Mickey Curry, keyboardist Larry Fast from Peter Gabriel's band, and their long time horn man Charles DeShant, this band is overflowing with energy, great musicianship, and a very special chemistry. These musicians give Hall & Oates' music a muscular vibrancy that could never be achieved by studio musicians and goes a long way toward explaining why they insisted on using them for the album sessions. This is truly a real working band playing at peak capacity.
Speaking of which, one of the highlights of this performance is the nearly 25-minute workout on a medley of choice covers that serves as the centerpiece of this set and is used to showcase the individual musicians. Several classic R&B numbers and vintage 1960s hits are included, including the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles hit, "Going To A Go Go," "I Like It Like That" (made famous by the Dave Clark Five in 1964), "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (done as an instrumental with a searing solo by G.E. Smith), "Wipe Out" (featuring drummer Mickey Curry), and finally culminating in an infectious take on Wilson Pickett's "Funky Broadway." This is not to be missed!
This recording truly documents Hall & Oates at both a creativity peak and at the pinnacle of their onstage powers. Confident of the artistic breakthrough of their Voices and Private Eyes albums, but not yet swaggering with the overconfidence of becoming the most popular act in America, this live recording captures the culmination of a sound they had been developing for several years just as it was reaching full fruition.