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Great Moustaches in Rock: Oates

The great pantheon of frightful and stupid moustaches is populated by hairy scary guys like these geniuses:

And then there was John Oates, modelling the porn school reject ‘tache with perm combo:


It must have been hard for Oates to play second banana to the King of the ’80s Mullet; harder yet if on the LP cover on which Hall & Oates went for the Agnetha and Anni-Frid look, the dude without the ‘tache looks the tougher guy.


There always was something slightly ridiculous about John Oates, lipgrowth and comedy perm aside. He was tiny next to Hall, and he had a need to strike axeman poses with his guitar when all we needed him to be was the other Righteous Brother. That seemed to be his destiny: the perennial sidekick. In Lisa Simpson’s dream Oates even took to the stage as part of a supergroup of “the other guys”, which also featured Art Garfunkel and Jim Messina. It was a bit unfair on Garfunkel and, especially, Messina (who was much more talented than Loggins). But Oates seemed to belong there; Daryl Hall was generally supposed to be the superior talent. Ah, but was he? Have you heard Hall’s solo records? They are crap (Edit: apparently not all crap; see comments). In particular that FIFA World Cup song he recorded. Proof that Oates was the indispensible ingredient in the Hall & Oates recipe, much as nutmeg is in Coca Cola? The poor man was terribly underrated. No wonder he’s staring down the bigger Daryl.


I’m delighted to note that Hall & Oates are now undergoing a critical rehabilitation. Even The Quietus, which can be heartlessly scathing in its critique, has recognised the genius of Hall & Oates. Better than I could, Adam Narkiwiecz expresses all I’d say on the subject. “H&A are up there with the greats,” Narkiewiecz rules, and he is damn right.

Here, then, are a few Hall & Oates songs. The version of Everytime You Go Away is from the live album with David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, though the two great Temptations don’t appear on that song. They are, however, represented on Out Of Touch, here as a live version from Live Aid (how brilliantly ’80s are those echo effects?). Your Kiss Is On My List, from the 1980 album that also yielded the original version of Everytime You Go Away, ranks among the duo’s finest moments of the ’80s, while the mid-’70s trilogy of She’s Gone, Sara Smile and Rich Girl serve as a potent reminder that Hall & Oates are essentially a ’70s group, and not the ’80s novelty act some appear to regard them as — usually because of Daryl’s hair and John’s moustache.

EDIT: Ooops, I uploaded the studio version instead of the Live Aid version of Out Of Touch. Below the Live Aid and the studio version. And to make amends, the Live Aid performance of Maneater. (Look out for the Live Aid special next week!)

Hall & Oates – Maneater (at Live Aid).mp3
Hall & Oates – Out Of Touch (at Live Aid).mp3
Hall & Oates – Everytime You Go Away (live).mp3
Hall & Oates – Sara Smile.mp3
Hall & Oates – Your Kiss Is On My List.mp3
Hall & Oates – Out Of Touch.mp3
Hall & Oates – She’s Gone.mp3
Hall & Oates – Rich Girl.mp3
Hall & Oates – Private Eyes.mp3

And do watch the video for She’s Gone. It is a comedy classic.

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  1. ib
    July 9th, 2008 at 06:55 | #1

    Great post and supporting moustaches, AMD.I never cared for Hall & Oates. The scary thing is my recently hearing Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and failing to remember that one wasn’t perpetrated by this pair too. I’m convinced Hall & Oates must have masterminded and dominated the 1980s with a range of clever disguises well beyond the ridiculous ‘tache.File under “currently wanted for Crimes Against Humanity”.

  2. fretz
    July 9th, 2008 at 09:24 | #2

    Hate to say anything negative, because I love your blog and loved this post too (H&O are old favorites). But I think you accidentally uploaded the album/studio version of “Out of Touch” instead of the Live Aid version you described. Sorry to be picky — otherwise, another great post; thanks!

  3. Any major dude with half a heart
    July 9th, 2008 at 10:27 | #3

    Ooops, you’re right, fretz. I’ll upload the Live Aid version when I get home from work. Thanks for alerting me.ib, even if you can’t go for the ’80s stuff (no can do, I suppose), the ’70s H&O material is quite different and certainly worth giving a go.

  4. Brian Cleary
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:02 | #4

    I’d have to disagree with you on the ‘Dary Hall is crap as a solo act’ issue.His first solo album is indeed total shit, but by the second solo album ‘Three Hearts In the Happy ending Machine’ there is an album filled with great tunes such as ‘Dreamtime’ ‘Wasn’t Born Yesterday’ ‘Foolish Pride’ ‘For You’ and others. ‘Soul Alone’ was ahead of its time as a soul album in 1993 and has been recognised as such by many others. His last solo album is so so.As a H&O fanatic I can still smell crap when I am confronted with it and stuff like Mano a Mano and others were very very poor John Oates efforts on otherwise good albums.Overall, as a live act the two are without match. Their last tour was a 2 hour non stop greatest hits show. I went to the London shows and the crowd went crazy for the entire two hours and BOTH rocked out.

  5. Any major dude with half a heart
    July 9th, 2008 at 17:42 | #5

    I defer to your more informed judgment, brian, and have inserted a qualification in my text.The Live Aid version of Out Of Touch is up now (that one isn’t featured on the DVD), as well as Maneater from Live Aid.

  6. Anonymous
    July 9th, 2008 at 19:37 | #6

    First: Love the blog.Second: I really enjoyed the early tunes of H & O. Great vocals and arrangements.Third: Just viewed the video. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!!!Thanks for the great posts

  7. fretz
    July 10th, 2008 at 04:30 | #7

    Thanks for re-uploading Out of Touch, and throwing in the bonus song too! Great post all around. I’m still a big fan of H&O’s 1980s stuff (though I agree with Brian — there are some stinkers on those albums), but you’re really spot on — anyone who sees them as just 80s fluff should give their 70s stuff a listen. Thanks for the post and the blog!

  8. Yanurama
    July 11th, 2008 at 19:13 | #8

    There’s more to H&O that the hits, a folk side and August Day which gets me in the mood for… don’t know… that.

  9. billie
    July 12th, 2008 at 16:55 | #9

    I loved their 70s stuff, didn’t care much about the 80s. August Day is a hauntingly beautiful piece. I’m always happy when I drop by your place. Thanks again!

  10. My hmphs
    July 13th, 2008 at 06:22 | #10

    My friends and I used to watch their videos and count how many times Hall would jump in front of Oates every time Oates got that precious screen time. I always wondered if he actually did anything, or if he was even real…I shoulda added them to my Guilty Pleasures list, except Maneater, Family Man and M-E-T-H-O-D of Modern Love probably disqualified them.

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