It may be a little bit unfair to characterize John Oates as a backup singer, but to my way of thinking, he was definitely the wing man in the Hall & Oates partnership. The fact that Darryl Hall gave him equal billing in the act is a testament to his appreciation for Oates’ steady musicianship.
But let’s be honest – Darryl was the face man. He had the better voice, and the frontman looks and charisma, and those qualities made him the leader. Oates happily put the Philly-soul oooohs and aaaaahs in there, and sometimes sang near-duets, as in “She’s Gone” and other classics. But mostly, he was a complementary voice.
I had requests for some sweet Hall & Oates tunes when I announced this post last week, including nolachick’s wish to hear the ultra-smooth “Sara Smiles”, but I wanted something that really showed what Oates brought to the table during the duo’s heyday. So, in honor of Halloween, here’s “Maneater”.
See – classic wingman there. Hall is a pretty boy, and he’s used to dealing with rough trade. He’s almost cocky. But Oates has his back, shouting “Watch Out!” and “She’s a man-EATER!” when Hall starts to drop his guard.
Oates, for your dedicated service as the Defensive Coordinator of the group, we salute you.
(sharp-eyed viewers will also notice smirking Saturday Night Live bandleader G.E. Smith adding his voice to the mix)
I’ll tell you the suggestions for next week, but I haven’t decided which to use yet. I’ve had suggestions for Heart, The Pixies, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and a few others, and I think I’ve discovered a gem of an example from Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.