Number Ones: #35


  • DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES Method Of Modern Love (RCA)
  • Week Ending 9th March 1985
  • 2 Weeks At #1


Received wisdom likes to suggest that the 1980s – and the mid-1980s in particular – were an artistic graveyard for all the big acts of the Sixties and Seventies. Faced with the new challenges presented by MTV, it was often a case of adapt or die. Get out the hairspray, don those loud shirts and tight spandex trousers, slap a load of synthesizers on your records and hope for the best.

Thus we had the sight of a primped and preened Bruce Springsteen bopping around in videos to a track given 12″ Arthur Baker remixes, former hippies and prog-rockers spruced up with shoulder pads and poodle hair in the name of AOR makeovers, and of Rock Gods such as Robert Plant attempting vainly to avoid looking like an awkward clothes horse.

Hall & Oates, hugely successful purveyors of smooth pop/soul throughout the latter half of the 1970s, adapted better than most. At first, the advent of New Wave saw them stutter slightly, with their albums either side of 1980 amongst their least popular, but they soon found a way to embrace modern fashions and evolve their sound accordingly. I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) from 1982 famously served as the sampled basis for De La Soul’s “daisy age” 1989 hip-hop classic Say No Go, whilst a cover of Mike Oldfield’s Family Man and their own Adult Education (both released in 1983) showed a growing interest in stripping down the elements of their sound to the basics, and introducing a tougher, leaner, remix-friendly style.

The duo took this all to its logical conclusion with their next album, 1984’s Big Bam Boom. As its wry title suggests, this was pop music in thrall to the wonders of studio-bound sonic trickery and ballast (David Bowie was operating in very similar territory at the time with tracks such as Dancing With The Big Boys). Plenty of snap and crackle, but also still plenty of pop nous.

Lead single Out Of Touch was a(nother) US #1, but it failed to become a hit in Britain on two occasions. Instead, the track which caught the UK public’s imagination was this, the second single with its catchy let’s-spell-out-all-the-letters refrain and less frantic, almost woozy atmosphere. With the benefit of hindsight, it does seem odd that Method Of Modern Love should have made more of a connection (both with record buyers and myself) than the clearly superior Out Of Touch, but…ah well…that’s the way it goes sometimes!

RCA responded to the nearly-Top 20 achievement of MOML by re-issuing Out Of Touch to no avail, and – perhaps wounded by that failure – completely ignoring the other (US) singles from Big Bam Boom; Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid and Possession Obsession. Daryl Hall then took time off to pursue a solo career, making a glossy rock-oriented album in 1986 with David A. Stewart of Eurythmics in tow, before getting back with John Oates for the 1988 set Ooh Yeah!.

Both projects had their moments; Three Hearts In The Happy Ending Machine was home to Dreamtime, a modest solo hit single and a #2 on my personal charts, as was the lead 45 from Ooh Yeah!, the gorgeous Everything Your Heart Desires. The latter track recalled the melodic haziness of Method Of Modern Love, and if anything was a stronger song, but despite reaching the Billboard Top 5 it wasn’t in tune with the rapidly changing UK chart scene and fell some way short of the Top 50.

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