Album Review: “Abandoned Luncheonette” By Hall & Oates
John Oates and Daryl Hall - acronym 109 / Youtube
While Daryl Hall and John Oates were definitely the pop-rock duo to watch out for, especially in the ’80s, the musical outfit didn’t start out with a silver spoon in its mouth. Their debut album, Whole Oates, didn’t perform successfully upon release, making them strategize a change of scenery (from Philadephia to New York) to create a more diverse catalog out of it. The resulting album, Abandoned Luncheonette, was an indulgent conglomeration of rock, folk, and soul that became one of the must-have records from Hall and Oates.
“When The Morning Comes” opens the album with an acoustic reggae progression that is tinged with Mellotron parts that offer much leeway to the flourishing vocal sections of the song, with timekeeping brought in by the iconic Bernard Purdie. “Had I Known You Better Then” is an Oates original composition that has a mainly folk setting but is tweaked by a gritty rock and soul combination thanks to the electric piano parts. “Las Vegas Turnaround (Stewardess Song)” is inspired by Hall’s then-girlfriend Sara Allen, and is accompanied with a nice groove and a soothing sax lead. “She’s Gone” is one of the duo’s most memorable tracks, which is centered around a gradual buildup as various instruments pitch in along the song’s progression. “I’m Just A Kid” closes the first side with good vocal harmonies over a bare folk-rock arrangement.
The title track is imbued with nostalgic properties with its tasteful use of piano and horns, among other instruments, and has key changes in style and timing. “Lady Rain” has funk and folk working together in harmony with a bit of blues pitched in, while “Laughing Boy” is sparsely orchestrated to highlight Hall’s vocal and piano work. Closing the entire record is “Everytime I Look At You” with its heavy rock arrangement that uses funk influences before mellowing out on a banjo/fiddle conclusion.
Abandoned Luncheonette gained the interest of the public as the years went by, a testament to the record being one of the finest Hall & Oates ever put out. Even the duo themselves admit that the album is their favorite pick from their lengthy career.