Being in a band is great. Freed of the responsibilities and consideration for others with which the rest of us are lumbered, Rock Stars can kill their friends in drunken car wrecks without incurring more than a token slap on the wrist (oh, I forgot, Vince Neil had to endure the hell of telling some school kids to "Just Say No" on top of the half an hour he spent in prison), they can incite riots by strolling on stage four hours late on a virtually nightly basis while the 'yes-men' around them continue to tell them their farts smell of Chanel No.5 instead of giving them the slap and dressing down they deserve, and they can even release a shockingly dull album (with what sounds suspiciously like auto-tuned vocals) when their fans, who have been waiting over fifteen years, not unreasonably, are expecting a masterpiece. You know who I'm talking about. Is it too much to hope that a singer might (however much he sounds like a bronchial dog coughing up a lung while his nuts are snagged on a barbed-wire fence) produce a decent enough vocal performance over the course of fifteen years spent in the studio to be able to dispense with the need for auto-tuning? Just a thought! And one I can express because this isn't China, it's a democracy.
No, however galling their behaviour, we still put these people on a pedestal, we continue to buy their records and we make excuses for them because, when all's said and done, we enjoy watching their vile antics, albeit through our fingers. They are like the drunken uncle at a wedding reception waggling his trouser vegetable at the bridesmaids on the dancefloor: you don't stop him because you can't wait to see what he'll do next. On top of that, we can't be certain that we would behave with any more dignity and respect for others if we were in their elevated position. Quite simply, we can excuse them anything. Anything that is except combining facial hair with make-up. May I present exhibit 'A'...
Words fail me! Actually, no they don't. What were they thinking? By 1975 Bowie had moved on from his Ziggy phase and the whole British, brickies-in-slap, Glam Rock thing had left the Chicory Tips of this world as an amusing footnote in pop music history. As bandwagon jumping goes Hall & Oates' timing was somewhat off. But that's not the issue here, what disturbs me most is that John Oates thought that lipstick under a moustache could ever be acceptable. Admittedly, some of my mother-in-law's coffee morning friends sport this particular look, but they are too old to see in the mirror clearly and they're female to boot. No, sorry John, but it's moustache or make-up, not both. You don't look glamorous and androgynous, you just look disturbing. Didn't management take them to one side and have a quiet word? Did they do it voluntarily or were they pushed? Did they do it for a bet? So many questions, so few plausible excuses. As if this LP cover wasn't humiliating enough, Hall & Oates / their record company / their management / their Avon Lady girlfriends (delete as appropriate) saw fit to furnish the LP with a lyric insert replete with the following 'not-while-I'm-eating-my-tea-please' photo of the duo.
|Hall & Scrotes|
It would be remiss of me to let pass unremarked the fact that Daryl Hall, sheathed in rubber, has entered John Oates' purple passageway in this picture. From behind. As Roy Walker always used to say on Catchphrase, "Say what you see."
In its defence, this album contains some excellent material (not least the classic Sara Smile) and Hall & Oates are responsible for recording an album that I return to time and time again, the magnificent Abandoned Luncheonette, but nothing can compensate for the fact that I can never erase these images from my mind. They're burned onto my retinas, you bastards!