Sunday, April 18, 2010

John Oates - 1000 Miles Of Life (2008)

John Oates, one half of Hall and Oates, the biggest selling duo in pop music history, issued a very interesting solo CD in 2008 called 1000 Miles Of Life. It's not overloaded with the catchy hooks that are a trademark of his famous band but it's still a good enough outing to make you wonder why their long and stellar career was so dominated by Daryl Hall.

Many fans of the superstar, 80s version of Hall and Oates may not realize that they began life as a folk-pop duo. The music they made in the early 70s was more singer-songwriter oriented even though blue-eyed soul was still a component of their work. Their best album from this period, Abandoned Luncheonette, (1972) was the perfect synthesis of folk and R & B. The highlight of the record was the single "She's Gone." It would take several more years for both the song and the album to become a hit after the success of "Sara Smile" but today they are considered classics.

1000 Miles of Life is Oates second solo CD (the first was Phunk Shui in 2002) and it has far more in common with Abandoned Luncheonette than anything he and Hall recorded during their glory years. There are lots of acoustic guitars, strings, some dobro courtesy of Jerry Douglas, and banjo from Bela Fleck. Bonnie and Bekka Bramlett sing back up and The Blind Boys of Alabama harmonize superbly on "Sending Me Angels." John Popper and Steve Cropper also help out and the late T Bone Wolk plays bass.

There is some funkiness for sure. The title cut, "Ghost Town," and "Carved In Stone" all have a soul inflected groove. There is a folky remake of the title track from Change Of Season, Hall & Oates' last album before their 1990 hiatus. The songs are deeply personal and reflect the rocker's personal life at the time. Oates is philosophical but never depressing. His singing proves he should take the lead vocals for H & O far more often and his songwriting is the equal of Hall's. All in all, it's a rewarding release from the underrated half of the much underrated duo.

Here is an interview Oates did for the CD in March 2008 before he even recorded it in Nashville.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting. I never realised that John Oates had released any solo stuff - so now I know!

    That's what I love about blogs, you learn something new every day.

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  2. I might just have to check this one out. I dig me some Bela Fleck! Solid stuff! The thought of Fleck collaborating with John Oates intrigues me.

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  3. Very interested to hear what his solo work sounds like. Just watched the interview. Pretty stellar cast that he worked with.

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