Jimmy Wayne: Sara Smile

RIYL: Restless Heart, Dierks Bentley, Billy Currington

Jimmy Wayne became a country music star so fast in 2008 when the title track to his Valory Music debut, Do You Believe Me Now? rocketed to #1 on the Billboard country music chart, Wayne and his label did not want to waste any time before issuing the follow-up. Fast forward to November 2009, only 15 months later, and Wayne returned with Sara Smile. The title track, as you have likely already gathered, is a cover of the Hall & Oates hit from 1976 that ultimately reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and has been a staple on soft rock radio for decades. And really, if you consider how much success the country music genre has had “borrowing” songs from the pop/rock world, releasing a track that already was a hit is a good strategy when trying to follow up on what was basically overnight success. The problem, though, is that “Sara Smile” is easily the best track on Wayne’s sophomore release, and it’s made better by the fact that Daryl Hall and John Oates sing backing vocals on Wayne’s version. The rest of the songs, while mostly catchy and serviceable, and having been written by the likes of Keith Urban as well as Nashville powerhouse songwriters like Hillary Lindsey and Rivers Rutherford, are pretty good, but not great. Along with the title track, the best of the rest are the upbeat opener, “Things I Believe,” written by Urban and John Shanks; and the sugary power ballad “Counting the Days.” And lest we fail to mention, Wayne is surely one of the better male vocalists in Nashville today, and he has the supporting cast for staying power. (Valory Music 2009)

Jimmy Wayne MySpace Page


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


A Chat with John Oates

It’s more than a little unfair that John Oates has spent so many years serving as the butt of jokes, but, c’mon, you know you chuckled at least a little when “The Simpsons” offered a scene where Lisa, feeling low after not making first chair in the school band, imagined herself as a member of Garfunkel, Messina, Oates, and Lisa. Fortunately, Mr. Oates has a sense of humor, one which he’s getting to show off in the new animated web series, “J Stache,” which reunites him with his long-lost mustache to fight the forces of evil. Yes, seriously. Bullz-Eye talked to Oates about his new online endeavor, his work with Daryl Hall, some of his other musical appearances (he co-wrote Icehouse’s “Electric Blue,” you know), and how bizarre it is to be talking about a bit of facial hair that he hasn’t sported in almost two decades.

* On “J Stache”: “I haven’t had a mustache for 20 years and people actually still talk about it! But I kind of understand it on the level that the mustache is back in vogue, you know. It’s back in style, and there is a lot of talk about it. My mustache took on this iconic kind of symbol of the era, of those decades in a way. Of course, I didn’t carry the ‘stache torch singlehandedly…”

* “Even though Daryl is outstanding as a singer, his trademark personality and his trademark voice have become the stamp of Hall & Oates, and I don’t think people recognize the contribution I made on the writing side, with the amount of songs I have written and contributed to.”

* On going indie: “We realized that we knew how to make records. We knew pretty much everything we needed to know, and we had everything in place. We had a vision that the future of the music business was changing, and that in order for us to continue to be creatively happy and do what we wanted to do, we really couldn’t just listen to the dictates of some businessman in an office in a traditional record company. It just wasn’t working.”

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