Picks and Pans Review: Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine
Hall's first album since his amicable—and perhaps temporary—split with John Oates (and his first solo album since the introspective Sacred Songs in 1979) is a remarkable blend of intelligence and inventiveness. The basic sound is not far removed from the eminently marketable Hall & Oates pop rock, but the overtones, both musical and verbal, seem more complex. Hall is ably assisted by the Eurythmics' David Stewart, who co-produced this album in addition to accompanying on guitar and co-composing. Joni Mitchell, Bob Geldof, Kate St. John of Dream Academy, Robbie McIntosh of the Pretenders and Jamie West-Oram of the Fixx are among the other certified all-stars who materialize in various background roles. Former French Legionnaire Michel de la Porte is also credited with helping shape the LP's unique rhythms: R&B with an exotic Third World twist. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the album is its sense of self-examination, yet Hall never seems self-absorbed. On I Wasn't Born Yesterday, he sings, "So far so extreme/ If I'm jaded, you're naive/ But behind that cynic's steady gaze/ There's a wide-eyed lover drunk for days." For You includes the lines, "Itch for pleasure/ I scratch/ Love's a treasure/ I want to give back/ I wanna give you/ All that I've got/ Attention's essential/ Analysis not." This is pop music of rare accomplishment: It simultaneously keeps the mind and the feet happy. (RCA)
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