Do What You Want Be What You Are

Daryl Hall & John Oates

RCA Legacy, 2009

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Hall & Oates may not have earned the critical acclaim that was their due, but beginning in the mid-seventies and continuing throughout the eighties, you literally could not listen to the radio very long without one of their songs blasting out from the speakers.

They have released dozens of albums during the course of their almost four-decade career which have sold tens of millions of copies yet they are best known for a series of catchy pop singles that remain some of the best in music history. “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That,” “Maneater,” and “Out Of Touch” all reached the number one position on the Billboard Magazine my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 singles chart, and that just scratches the surface as 28 more would also become hits.

Do What You Want Be What You Are is a four-CD box set that spans their career from their pre-duo college days in the late sixties down to the present day. There are 74 different tracks taken from their recordings for seven different labels. Rarities, hits, and 16 unreleased tracks all combine to make this the definitive Hall & Oates collection.

Disc one is the most historically interesting. Daryl Hall was a member of rhythm & blues influenced The Temptones and John Oates fronted the pop sounding The Masters. Tracks from both of these sixties groups show how the early proclivities of each would combine into their later fully developed sound.

There are also five unreleased live performances taken from their 1975 concert at The New Victoria Theatre in London. Their sound was in its developmental stage but close to the smooth brand of R&B/Pop that would dominate their best work.

Discs two and three present the heart and soul of their extensive catalogue as hit follows hit. All their number one songs are present as are “You Make My Dreams,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Adult Education,” “One On One,” “Rich Girl,” “Sara Smile,” and on and on and on seemingly ad infinitum. When all of their best material is clustered together it represents an impressive accomplishment.

Disc four contains a selection of their most recent material and is the weakest. Daryl Hall had a number of side projects during this period, plus the music was just not of the same quality. The live material especially does not have the smoothness of their classic eighties releases.

One of the highlights of the set is the accompanying sixty-page booklet complete with rare photos and comments about every track by either Daryl Hall or John Oates.

Do What You Want Be What You Are is seventies and eighties pop music at its best. All box sets ultimately stand on the music and Hall & Oates have a very large and firm foundation.

Rating: A

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© 2009 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.