Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Vocals and the Music Are Real When You Are "Live From Daryl's House"

Live From Daryl's House

If you are old enough to have watched television in the 1960s and '70s, you probably remember the scourge of lip syncing that was prevalent for musical acts at the time.

In my naive Midwestern mind, learning that some of the top artists of the day weren't really singing or playing was a little like discovering that Santa Claus didn't exist. One of the worst practitioners of the lip syncing "art" was American Bandstand. I vaguely remember Dick Clark introducing one of my favorite bands (probably the Grass Roots) only to have someone (probably my older sister) walk in and say, "You know, they aren't really singing."

"You're kidding me," I said. (I was a lot like Clark Griswold, the dog, in those days.)

"No, I'm not kidding," my sister said. "And they aren't playing their instruments either. They are faking it while the record plays."

Innocence was lost that day. And I've always hated Dick Clark, just a little bit, for his deception.

More than anything, that experience gave me an extra appreciation for real vocal performance. And no one does it better these days than Daryl Hall on "Live From Daryl's House," which started out as a free Web program and now can be seen on television stations around the country.

Hall, of course, is half of the '80s hit-making machine Hall and Oates. As you might expect from a guy who sold 87 gazillion records in his prime, Hall has one heck of a nice house, surrounded by plenty of acreage in the countryside of upstate New York. The restored Georgian Colonial-style, Revolutionary War-era home sits on 275 acres near Amenia, New York, and has been listed at $16 million. (Let me get out my checkbook.)

On each episode, Hall invites various artists--some from yesteryear, some right off today's charts--to his home. They swap stories, eat sumptuous meals, and seem to have a great time playing music in one of 24 rooms at the Hall estate. Best of all, the singing is real--and it is terrific.

Hall possesses one of the most distinctive tenors in rock-and-roll history. And his guests aren't slouches either. We need a break from our usual tales of legal turbulence, so let's enjoy highlights from jam sessions at Darryl's house.

Todd Rundgren produced one of the early Hall and Oates records and has gone on to a remarkably wide-ranging and eclectic career. Here, Rundgren takes the lead on a moving rendition of Hall and Oates' "Wait for Me."

Pat Monahan and Train produced one of the most irresistible hits of recent years with "Hey, Soul Sister." Here is a version, with splendid two-part harmony, from Daryl's house:

"She's Gone" is a Hall and Oates classic, their first major hit, and Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty does it justice:

All of this reminds me that Mrs. Schnauzer and I had the good fortune to see Hall and Oates live at the historic Alabama Theatre in 2003. They had just released the Do It For Love CD and were well past their prime hit-making years, but it still was a terrific show. Their performance of "Forever for You," the lead-off single from Do It For Love, was one of many highlights. Here is a performance of "Forever for You" from that time period. Enjoy

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