Rock 'n Soul Part 1 (RCA ’83, ‘04) Rating: A-
This collection contains ultra smooth and slick soul sounds from two white guys with the knack, one of whom is an excellent singer (of course, I’m referring to Daryl Hall, the tall blonde one who sings lead on the vast majority of these songs, as opposed to John Oates, the short dark haired guy best known for his big moustache). Although many critics find them too tasteful and refined (i.e. too slick for their own good), and they certainly had cheesy characteristics that gives their music a dated quality from time to time (raise your hand if the synth drums and processed vocals on "Adult Education" make you cringe), at their best these guys produced some of the best mainstream pop songs of the ‘70s and ‘80s (the early ‘80s was their commercial peak), and since the singles format was both their calling card and their true métier, why not collect most of their best ones all on one satisfying (if all too brief) package? From the hummable synth pop of "Say It Isn't So" (at the time brand new to this collection), "Kiss On My List," “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” and "Private Eyes" through the superb, sighing "Sara Smile" and onto the moody "Maneater," just try to deny the simple charms of these songs. I know that I can't, especially since they also throw in some catchy up-tempo rock on the cranky "Rich Girl" and the bouncy "You Make My Dreams." Topping it all off are "She's Gone" (which, incredibly enough, isn't on the 18-track The Very Best Of Hall and Oates), an anguished soft soul classic, and "One On One," one of the flat-out sexiest songs that I've ever heard. In short, these 12 (14 on the reissue) Rock 'n Soul songs provide many an enjoyable reminder as to why Hall and Oates are the best selling pop duo of all-time.