Over the years, I have been perplexed by the fact that certain songs have become hits, such as Jim Stafford’s early-Seventies hit song “Spiders and Snakes,” while others have peaked in the nether regions of the Hot 100 Chart, like Modern English’s immortal “I Melt with You.” Seriously, when was the last time you heard the former yet NOT hear the latter on the radio? And, who does one go about explaining that to future generations, except by rewriting history bit by bit. And, with music, radio airplay and streaming have played a role with that. Shoot! If you came of age in the Sixties, Paul Revere & the Raiders played an important role on the radio. But, how many oldies stations have played one of their songs besides “Kicks.” On the other hand, Bow Wow Wow’s cover of “I Want Candy” is everywhere today, on the radio, streaming through all formats of Eighties music and in commercials, even though it peaked at number 62 in the Billboard Singles Chart.
So, today, I would like to present a list of ten songs by the most successful duo in rock history, Daryl Hall and John Oates that should have been HUGE hits. Some of these were released to a tepid response from the record-buying public or were never released for reasons that are beyond me. Either way, these ten songs have been criminally overlooked, and I want to present them so you might add them to your playlists. One or two of them may have hit the lower reaches of the Top 40, while most peaked somewhere in the lower half of the Hot 100, if they were released at all. One thing is for sure: none of these ten songs hit the Top 20. That’s why “It’s a Laugh” is not on the list, as it peaked at number 20, while another Hall & Oates favorite, “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” is left off my list, since it was a Top 30 song. One thing all of these songs share, besides not being hits, is they were all released during the duo’s salad days from 1973 through 1985.
So, kick back and enjoy this list. I really hope this piques your interest to delve a little deeper into Daryl Hall and John Oates’ catalog for some great music. Now, let’s get this party started!
10. “The Woman Comes and Goes” (X-Static, 1979). If this song had been saved for the duo’s NEXT album, Voices, the song would have blended in with the others and strengthened the album. Otherwise, it stuck out like a New Wave-influence ditty that it was on a transitional album that happened to be produced by a future schlock-meister before that man, David Foster, climbed upon said mantle.
9. “Go Solo” (H2O, 1982). After Daryl made his first solo album with futuristic guitarist Robert Fripp, Hall often wrote the occasional experimental pop song. “Go Solo” foots the bill as a weirdo-pop song that would sound natural on a CBGB punk band’s album.
8. “Possession Obsession” (Big Bam Boom, 1984). Yes, this song rose to number 30, but why did it stop there? This song should have been the second number one hit from their Big Bam Boom album.
7. “I’m Sorry” (Whole Oats, 1972). This was the first song where we got a glimpse of the now-familiar Hall & Oates’ rock ‘n’ soul sound.
6. “Camelia” (Daryl Hall & John Oates, 1975). Back in the mid-Seventies, it was rare to have more than a hit from one album. While “Sara Smile” broke this Dynamic Duo, this song should have been their Top 10 follow-up song, and not the re-released “She’s Gone.”
5. “Las Vegas Turnaround” (Abandoned Luncheonette, 1973). Why did it take THREE years for the centerpiece song of this album, “She’s Gone,” to become a major hit? And, if it took three years for THAT song to catch, then it’s no wonder why this one was not a hit.
4. “It’s Uncanny” (No Goodbyes, 1977). After Daryl and John released their first experimental album, War Babies, which was produced by Todd Rundgren, the boys decided to consciously make another blue-eyed soul song. But, they never put this song on an album until after they had left Atlantic for RCA. Then, this classic was placed on an Atlantic compilation LP, but the song stiffed. Why?!?!a
3. “Have I Been Away Too Long” (Along the Red Ledge, 1978). Not quite the eclectic pop experience of War Babies, but Along the Red Ledge does check many off-beat boxes on the quirky list. When the first two singles, “It’s a Laugh” and “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” both underperformed to the fantastic quality each one is, then we shouldn’t be surprised that this something of a Peter Gabriel-prototype ballad never was released. This song would have been a natural on college rock radio in the mid-Eighties, between the Cocteau Twins and Love & Rockets.
2. “Head Above Water” (Private Eyes, 1981). What has always made me admired Daryl and John’s music together is that they never stuck solely with the pop/blue-eyed soul sound with which they are associated. Here, they show that they have do a Billy Squier/Cheap Trick-type of pop/rock song that flexes some musical muscles. Why a rockin’ new wave band never covered this song is beyond me. Hell, how about the Fall Out Boys, Panic! At the Disco or The Killers? This is a hit waiting to happen. Wake up people!
1. “Everytime I Go Away” (Voices, 1980). See? Paul Young removed the gospel-tinges and made it a mid-Eighties blue-eyed soul monster hit. But, I still prefer the gospel feel, the bluesy guitars and the dark foreboding feeling of isolation of this original. Maybe it was one of those songs that was TOO good and TOO personal to release, much like Springsteen’s ode to Little Steven “Billie Jean” from Born in the U.S.A. Regardless, this may well be Daryl Hall and John Oates’ masterpiece song. It really does transcend the band.
Well, folks, those are my ten Daryl Hall and John Oates songs that should have been hits. Some were never released. Some were released and stiffed. Some were released and underperformed. Yet, all can stand firmly next to any of their hit songs and only embellish a Hall & Oates compilation album. These are the songs that make Daryl Hall and John Oates not only stand out a pop stars, but as songwriters.
So, the next time you find yourself “jonsesing” for some Hall & Oates music, add these ten songs to your streaming service’s playlist. They will only enhance your listening experience.