10 Albums that changed John Oates’ life

Photo by Joel Maus

Photo by Joel Maus

By Ken Sharp

Through their four-decade career, Hall & Oates were skilled musical chameleons, equally adept essaying folk, R&B, rock, blues, prog-rock, power pop and new wave. Taking a peek at John’s Top 10 albums selections reflects his broad musical taste.


1. Mississippi John Hurt – The Immortal Mississippi Hurt”

I had the chance to spend time with him when he slept on my guitar teacher’s couch in Philadelphia and learned to finger pick from watching his hands.


2. Doc Watson – “Doc Watson”

I learned every song on this album from listening and watching him play.  He was a true American original.


3. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions  – “The Anthology” 

In the 1960s, Curtis was one of the very few R&B singers who played guitar and sang while he performed. That was unusual in those days, and I loved his playing and singing style. I also loved the Impressions’ three-part harmony vocals.  His social consciousness was also innovative and inspiring.


4. James Brown – “Live at the Apollo”

Pure excitement captured in a live show … the tempos were off the charts and the energy jumped off the grooves of this record.


5. The Temptations – “The Temptations Live!”

This record perfectly represents the original Temps lineup at its peak. The five-part harmony, the dance steps and the unique lead vocals of all the members are unsurpassed.


6. The Band – “The Band”

A true classic album in every way — songs, mood, playing and singing. It sounded fresh and contemporary and at the same time sounded as though it came from a bygone era.


7. Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

A ground-breaking progressive recording of soundscapes with the undertone of R&B taken to another planet.


8. Joni Mitchell – “Blue”

The perfect album … there’s nothing else to say.


9. Nickel Creek – “Why Should the Fire Die?“

A unique combination of traditional and progressive Americana with provocative songs and superlative playing.


10. Frazier and Debolt – “Frazier and Debolt (With Ian Guenther)”

A study in the use of “silence” as a dynamic device.

GM0615The above article appeared in Goldmine‘s Hall and Oates issue (June 2015, Volume 41, No. 7, at left). If you would like a digital copy of the issue, click here. It’s only a $4.95 download! Or if you would like a print copy (the cover itself is worth framing!) call 1-800-726-9966, Ext. 13369, or e-mail missy.fenn@fwcommunity.com.

Leave a Reply