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10 Albums that changed John Oates’ life

Reading John Oates’ Top 10 albums selections reflects his broad musical taste.
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 fromwatching 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.


The 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