War Babies 1974 Album
3.5 • 0
Oh, now this album. One would think that, based off some of the wilder passages from Abandoned Luncheonette, they were the launching point for the duo to really go crazy, hook up with fellow Philly player Todd Rundgren, and cut a concept record called War Babies. But you would be wrong. Really, the albums are separate entities and should be considered as such. In fact, you could almost convince me of this album of being a separate entity from the Hall & Oates catalog, in a lot of respects. Sort of like “Hall & Oates featuring Todd Rundgren”, as a shared bill. The duo – I have read in some quarters that Hall was the main impetus behind the project – clearly wanted to do something different, so they moved to New York City, connected with Rundgren, and this was your end product. A concept record tying in the perils of growing up as a Baby Boomer (the album cover is a figurative tribute to this) and the perils of too much touring on a musician, putting it through the twin filters of Hall & Oates and Rundgren. Hall, apparently, at the time, was quite enamored with progressive rock and other weird sounds so he was on the relative same page as Todd. Plus, he wrote – or at least was credited with – seven of the ten tracks on the record. This is a flashier, glitzier, far bigger record than anything the duo came up with thus far. And darker and gloomier. On quite a few of these tracks you get the feeling they were thinking their generation might be the last one on this earth. You are constantly being peppered with random effects, noises, drum machines, synth bleeps and bloops, weird fade-ins and fade-outs. It is one of those albums which gives you the odd impression that it is far ahead of its’ time and somehow behind the times, at the same time! Many of the songs are really good, but it is a toss-up as to whether they are marred or enhanced by this approach. I am often confused from second to second while listening to the album as to what the final call on this is. I guess, at the end of the day, the best track here is written by Oates – the opener “Can’t Stop the Music”, which addresses the touring aspect of the concept. Not only is it a song about a guy who feels like he cannot stop touring, the hook, the vocals, presentation just feels the cleanest and most accessible out of everything here. Even though the album charted, it only reached the lower rungs of the charts, and its’ predictable flop sent Hall & Oates dovetailing away from one record label (Atlantic) and quickly into the arms of another (RCA). They quickly revised their approach and garnered national hits for the first time, so that this initial three album run with Atlantic became a bit of a lost period for many people…except for maybe the people that were there at the time. Some people are going to out-and-out love this album, while others are going to come away thoroughly confused, unable to jibe this with their normal view of Hall & Oates. And to that, I say, this is not a normal album for ANY pop artist, much less Hall & Oates. Tread lightly with this one, but there are rewards here for the adventurous types.
Reason for report