Daryl Hall & John Oates

The Philadelphia Years

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Hall & Oates' earliest recordings have been reissued plenty of times, often under the appropriate title Past Times Behind, but Varese's 2006 collection The Philadelphia Years is the best of these, since it is the best-sounding, best-annotated compilation of this familiar material. It may not be complete -- frequently circulated songs like "Angelina" and "A Lot of Changes Comin'" aren't here -- but it is generous at 19 tracks, including six previously unreleased folk-pop tunes from Hall & Oates, plus the two sides of the Daryl Hall single "A Lonely Girl"/"Vicki-Vicki" and a previously unreleased Hall solo cut "Girl Don't Make Me Wait," a pretty good tune written by fellow Philadelphian Leon Huff. The addition of this solo material gives a fuller picture of Hall & Oates prior to their debut album for Atlantic Whole Oates, which did contain better, fuller versions of such songs here as "Fall in Philadelphia" and "Good Night and Good Morning," but these endearingly tentative folky tunes are certainly worth hearing. The production might be a little undercooked and the performances might be a little shaky, but Hall & Oates' chemistry as a duo and their skills as songwriters shine through and make this worthwhile for hardcore fans. And for those that don't want to collect all the permutations of this material, this is the one to get since it is indeed the best-compiled and best-sounding version of these early recordings.

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