Daryl Hall & John Oates - Our Kind of Soul (2005)

Daryl Hall & John Oates

With their great Rock N Soul Revue tour with Michael McDonald and the Average White Band behind them, Hall & Oates have followed in McDonald's footsteps and released Our Kind Of Soul, an album of covers of Soul Music classics. But while McDonald on his Motown and Motown 2 discs focused on the great music of Detroit, H&O here split their sights among Motown, Memphis and their home town of Philadelphia.

With their great Rock N Soul Revue tour with Michael McDonald and the Average White Band behind them, Hall & Oates have followed in McDonald's footsteps and released Our Kind Of Soul, an album of covers of Soul Music classics. But while McDonald on his Motown and Motown 2 discs focused on the great music of Detroit, H&O here split their sights among Motown, Memphis and their home town of Philadelphia.

McDonald's Motown, while staying generally faithful to the original Hitsville arrangements, had McDonald's unique, powerful voice to give life and freshness to some of the most popular songs of the 60s and 70s. Our Kind of Soul is less able to distinguish its material from the original cuts, many of which are seminal to the Soul genre. H&O struggle with the O'Jays' "Used To Be My Girl" and the Dramatics' "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get," which simply don't lay well for them. Better are their faithful covers of "Love TKO," the Spinners' "I'll Be Around," and Al Green's "I'm Still In Love With You," but the originals were so, well, perfect, that even touching these songs is a difficult undertaking. While this album is generally a disc of covers, it is actually at its best on H&O's original material, "Let Love Take Control," "Don't Turn Your Back On Me" and "Soul Violins," all of which have the feel of the group's excellent Do It For Love disc, with an acoustic guitar underpinning to their soulful vocal arrangements, though it also shines on covers of "Fading Away" (a relatively obscure Temptations cut that was an inspired choice here), Marvin Gaye's "After the Dance," Gladys Knight's "Neither One of Us," and a soulful version of Dan Hartman's "I Can Dream About You" (which is much better than the Pop-tinged original).

All in all, Our Kind of Soul is a solid take on some of the greatest Soul songs of the last four decades, some of which simply didn't need remaking but others of which are handled nicely here. The disc was clearly a labor of love for H&O (who are self-professed Soul Music fanatics), and their obvious joy helps the disc get through some of its rougher moments and, buoyed by the new material and a few wisely chosen covers, makes Our Kind of Soul an overall success.

by Chris Rizik

 
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