Picks and Pans Review: Big Bam Boom
Hall and Oates
On Out of Touch, one of the many fetching songs on Big Bam Boom, Daryl Hall sings, "Soul really matters to me." That statement pretty well sums up the careers of Hall and John Oates. They have become preeminent pop stylists by coupling their Philadelphia soul roots with impeccable instincts for melody, rhythm and arrangement. From their first big hit, 1974's She's Gone, to this year's Say It Isn't So, their lithe delivery has put them on both the pop and black charts. Other groups cross over; Hall and Oates stay over. Big Bam Boom ranks with 1978's Along the Red Ledge as one of their most ambitious records. On their recent albums Daryl and John were willing to rely on their talents as singer-songwriters, but with Big Bam Boom they seem intent on dazzling with technique. The zippy production of Hall, Oates and Bob Clearmountain is especially suitable to Going Thru the Motions, with its lively dialogue between G.E. Smith's guitar and Charlie DeChant's sax, and Bank on Your Love, reminiscent of the Stones' Exile on Main Street. On a couple of selections, the thick over-dubbing and echoing amount to overkill. This is most apparent on Method of Modern Love and All American Girl, which sounds like an update of H&O's old Gino the Manager. That wall-of-sound business makes the more unadorned cuts, Possession Obsession for one, stand out. Oates sings that one as well as Cold Dark and Yesterday, a pleasing rock tango that brings to mind the recordings of former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch. The capstone of Big Bam Boom is Out of Touch, a soul number that profits from the immoderate gimmickry. Despite its excesses, Big Bam Boom is another fine piece of work from this two-man dynasty. (RCA)
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