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Daryl Hall

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Daryl Hall (born Daryl Franklin Hohl on October 11, 1946, Pottstown, Pennsylvania) is half of the music duo Hall & Oates (with music partner John Oates).

His mother played songs by Frank Sinatra to him as a child, and he later became a fan of Motown and other R & B/soul music. He took piano lessons as a child, but he did not like them. He would skip the lessons and rode his bicycle across the bridge from his grandfather’s farm over to the heart of the black “Chicken Hill” ghetto, where he could just listen and absorb the music.

In the 1960s, he attended Temple University, but did not graduate, preferring instead to spend his time singing on the street corners. At that time, Daryl Hohl (as he was called then) sang backup for different bands. He eventually changed his last name to Hall. Daryl Hall idolized The Temptations and began to perform session work. He first met John Oates at a band competition. After John transferred to a different school, Daryl joined the band Gulliver, which released one eponymous album in 1969 before being dropped from their label. Hall & Oates was formed in 1972, when John returned to Philadelphia.

In 1977, RCA first attempted to push Daryl Hall to the front with his first solo effort, Sacred Songs, produced by Robert Fripp. RCA was concerned about the non-commercial nature of the album, however, and it was not released until 1980, after Hall and Fripp passed out demos to radio stations, forcing the issue. The album was reminiscent of experimenters such as David Bowie and Brian Eno. Hall & Oates went on a break after the 1985 tour. Hall was influenced to go to England and meet with Dave Stewart of the electro-pop duo group Eurythmics. The resulting solo album Hall released was Three Hearts in The Happy Ending Machine. It included a Number Five hit “Dreamtime” and a Top 40 hit with “Foolish Pride”. It also contained perhaps a hint of Hall’s future solo projects, with the song, “Someone Like You”. Despite Stewart’s co-production and guest background vocals from Joni Mitchell and Bob Geldof, RCA considered this album a commercial disappointment. It should be noted, however, that RCA did not promote this album at the level of the Hall & Oates’ previous albums, which upset Hall for years afterward. This was also the last album in the RCA deal with Hall & Oates.

In 1993, Daryl Hall released his third solo album on Epic, called Soul Alone. Distinct from the Hall & Oates’ sound, this album features a more soulful and jazzy feel. However, Epic failed to find a marketing niche for Hall’s new sound. Despite one single being released, (“Philly Mood”), the album was not a commercial success. In 1994 he released a duet with Dusty Springfield, Wherever Would I Be?, which charted in the UK, and was featured in the movie While You Were Sleeping.

On the occasion of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in United States, Daryl Hall sung the official anthem of the event with a gospel group called Sound of Blackness Gloryland. Daryl Hall has also released a fourth solo album called Can't Stop Dreaming and a fifth, Live In Philadelphia compilation. He is also featured on Kenny G's At Last . . . The Duets doing a collaboration with the saxophonist of James Ingram’s “Baby, Come To Me”.

In July 2005 Hall was diagnosed with Lyme Disease causing him to cancel a majority of Hall & Oates’ summer tour. Hall has reported that he is feeling better and he continues to tour with John Oates. Hall released a Christmas album with John Oates in October, 2006 called Home for Christmas.

It’s fair to ask what kind of solo album Daryl Hall would make after fourteen years and a world of changes. Since 1997’s Can’t Stop Dreaming, Hall reunited with John Oates, cut records, and toured globally. He ended a 30-year romantic and creative partnership, got married, became a stepdad, and created “Live from Daryl’s House”, a homemade Internet TV show that went into national syndication in 2007. In 2010, four days into these recording sessions, his producer and best friend T-Bone Wolk died suddenly of a heart attack (the album, dedicated to him, contains his final recorded performances).

Laughing Down Crying (2011) is instantly recognizable, yet ambitious and understandably poignant. Hall plays loads of instruments here; he co-produced with guitarist Paul Pesco and keyboardist Greg Bieck. These ten songs reflect the range of music Hall’s recorded, been influenced by, and encountered while doing his internet show. He doesn’t shy away from what made him and Oates household names in the ‘80s; he embraces the songcraft but doesn’t indulge in nostalgia. The title track opens with an acoustically driven folk-rock number; the melody is pure Hall. It grabs the listener instantly with its strummed acoustic guitars and laid-back backbeats. The vocal harmonies are pure ‘70s rock classicism in the refrain, and in them is a tight, rich hook. “Talking to You (Is Like Talking to Myself)” is more uptempo, its hook dead center. The dual harmony lead vocals touch on late-’80s and early-’90s pop but pushes past them. “Lifetime of Love” is an acoustically driven, blue-eyed soul number, with horns and a backing chorus that pushes Hall to soar over them, and his voice just gets better with age. The opening of “Eyes for You (Ain’t No Doubt About It)” is a spacey, nocturnal, funky soul tune with a babymaker bassline and loop. “Save Me” employs slick gospel with an unforgettable chorus. “Wrong Side of History” would serve Hall & Oates well in the 21st century. Hall’s interest in modern production and songwriting is revealed in “Get Out of the Way,” with its big drum loops, wall of guitars, and Hall’s voice calling up the musical storm around him. “Crash & Burn” is a gorgeous acoustic pop ballad, and set closer “Problem with You” has Hall taking on the blues via his Philly soul roots.

Admittedly, Laughing Down Crying is comforting and familiar. That said, it offers plenty of proof that Hall is restless and still growing musically. It’s the work of a master musician doing what he does best - writing and performing beautifully crafted pop songs in terrific form - while proving that not only does he have plenty left to say in the new millennium, but has everything it takes to compete in the marketplace.

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