The Bird & the Bee: Interpreting the Masters Vol. I: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates

RIYL: Lily Allen, The Carpenters, Muzak

It would not surprise us in the slightest if Interpreting the Masters Vol. I: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates becomes a hit with the hipsters for all the wrong reasons. They’ll get off on the “irony” of someone as cool as the Bird & the Bee covering someone as patently uncool as Daryl Hall & John Oates, despite the fact that, as the title clearly states, the band did not do this to be ironic. They don’t feel an ounce of guilt for loving Daryl Hall & John Oates, nor should they. Having said that, Inara George has no business singing Daryl Hall songs.


No knock on George’s voice, mind you; her airy soprano is tailor-made for the Bird & the Bee’s machine-driven synth pop. However, a soul song, even of the blue-eyed variety, will eat her alive, and that is the main problem with Interpreting the Masters – it’s too sterile, from George’s clinical delivery to Greg Kurstin’s rigid arrangements. These songs were already pretty white in their original form, but in the hands of George and Kurstin, they approach blizzard-in-Utah levels of whiteness. The ballads fare better than the up-tempo numbers, namely “One on One” and “Sara Smile,” but they would have been better served playing to their strengths and covering a like-minded act like the Pet Shop Boys instead. (Blue Note 2010)

The Bird & the Bee MySpace page
Click to buy Guiltless Pleasures Vol. I from Amazon


Daryl Hall & John Oates: Do What You Want, Be What You Are

RIYL: Daryl Hall, John Oates, and Daryl Hall & John Oates

They’ve been feted in countless compilations, but Daryl Hall and John Oates have never received the deluxe box set treatment until now – which seems odd, considering they’re the top-selling duo of all time. The cumbersomely named Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall John Oates has been in the works for over a decade, tumbling to Legacy when Sony merged with BMG a few years ago, and for once, a corporate mega-merger bears a little artistic fruit; just about everything the duo has done, from pre-H&O recordings with the Masters and the Temptones through their early Atlantic years as a folk/rock act and on into their most recent incarnation as a slick adult contemporary object of Yacht Rock hipster fetishism, is here. The hits are present and accounted for, of course, which is actually what puts a hiccup in Do What You Want’s stride: Is there a Hall and Oates fan on Earth who doesn’t already have at least one of their best-of compilations? Is there any such thing as a “casual” fan of the duo that’s willing to drop coin on a four-disc box? This set tries to play to both groups, lumping in Hall and Oates’ amazing streak of hits alongside a smattering of deep cuts, live performances, and demos. It’s a pleasantly full-figured portrait of their work, but it has the nasty side effect of rendering Disc Three essentially worthless (or, at the very least, utterly redundant) for the hardcore fans who have been waiting for this collection.

The music is solid, of course, and even blindingly glossy later hits like “Everything Your Heart Desires” still hold up – but in terms of value for the fans, this could have been so much more. (Sony Legacy 2009)

Daryl Hall & John Oates MySpace page


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