RCA/Arista/Legacy's 2005 release The Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates is a repackaging of BMG Heritage's excellent 2004 compilation Ultimate Daryl Hall + John Oates. Spanning two discs and 37 tracks, the set contains all 18 songs from 2001's The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates, which was a single-disc, 18-track collection that contained all of the duo's big hits from the '70s and '80s (three tracks were in alternate single mixes on that collection; they're presented in their original album mixes here), along with "She's Gone" (absent on The Very Best) and two other Atlantic tracks from the early '70s, selections from their Arista recordings of the late '80s and early '90s, as well as cuts from 1997's Marigold Sky and 2003's excellent comeback single, "Do It for Love." While there are still plenty of great album tracks, particularly from the Atlantic years, that would have been welcome additions, that's something only the hardcore fans who already have all the albums will quibble about. For the less dedicated listener, all that matters is that there are no major hits missing on The Essential Daryl Hall & John Oates (there are a couple of low-charting singles from the late '70s that have been left behind, but their absence isn't notable) and that the remastered sound is very good, making this an ideal compilation for fans looking for a thorough, career-spanning collection of hits.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2