ARTIST: Hall & Oates
TITLE: War Babies
YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: #86
SINGLES: Can’t Stop the Music (He Played It Much Too Long)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I don’t think so.
LINEUP: Daryl Hall, John Oates, Todd Rundgren, Richie Cerniglia, Don York, John Siegler, Willie Wilcox, Sandy Allen, Gail Boggs
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A Todd Rundgren production that missed the mark commercially but is very intriguing as a meld between the two artists.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s easy to see how this missed the mark, in retrospect. The sound of this album is miles away from blue-eyed soul and pop, and is definitely in the mold of Todd Rundgren’s mid-70’s records. (He produced this, and had the early version of Utopia play on it). It didn’t sell, and Atlantic dropped them.
But, it’s a fascinating mix of Hall, Oates, and Rundgren. “Is It a Star” should have been the single (that or “You’re Much Too Soon”), and at least should have gotten them some FM radio play. The songs may have odd titles (“War Baby Son of Zorro”, “Beanie G and the Rose Tattoo”, “Johnny Gore and the ‘C’ Eaters) but Daryl Hall was always kind of a closet prog weirdo, it turns out. The songs, despite the arty production and sounds, have hooks and great singing (of course).
It doesn’t have any hits, but it’s worth a listen, especially if you like both Hall & Oates AND Todd Rundgren. That’s not really a weird combo it turns out.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: It was the first album to chart after release, but Abandoned Luncheonette charted higher on re-release a year later.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE A-: Better than I really expected, and only some of the wilder prog excursions in songs don’t work.