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Across the last 3 decades, Hall & Oates fans have had to put up with the occasional half-assed "Best Of" CD with so-so sound and a slew of very expensive Japanese imports for their huge canon of albums and 40-years-plus career. All of that piecemeal approach ends with this superlatively musical and beautiful sounding 4CD retrospective.

There's so much on here, so let's detail the nuts and bolts first - USA released 13 October 2009, RCA/Legacy 88697 36974 2 breaks down as follows:

Disc 1, 1966 to 1977, 20 tracks, 78:12 minutes - features 11 album cuts, 3 rare USA-only 7 singles and 6 Previously Unreleased tracks
Disc 2, 1975 to 1980. 20 tracks, 78:59 minutes - features 16 album cuts, 1 rare 7" Mix and 3 Previously Unreleased tracks
Disc 3, 1980 to 1985, 18 tracks, 80:00 minutes - features 14 album cuts, 2 rare 7" single versions, 1 rare 12" Mix and 1 Previously Unreleased Track
Disc 4, 1988 to 2009, 16 tracks, 78:17 minutes - features 6 album cuts, 1 rare CD single mix, 1 old song reworking and 8 Previously Unreleased versions
(I've provided a full track list breakdown in the 'comment' section attached to this review).

The first thing that hits you (apart from the superlatively annotated booklet with reminiscences on every song by the duo) is the SOUND. I've raved about VIC ANESINI remasters before (The Jayhawks, Stevie Ray Vaughan) and his transfers here are fabulous - warm, clear and never too pushed on the treble front. Every track is a revelation to me. The sonic hit off "She's Gone" is just amazing - it'll put chills on your arms. Then there's the parade of hit-after-hit that is shockingly impressive - "Wait For Me", "Out Of Touch" and "Do It For Love".

But better than that are the albums cuts that finally get to shine - "August Day", "You Make My Dreams" (lyrics above), "Your Imagination", "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" and "Keep On Pushin' Love" - gems that deserve rediscovery. The unreleased stuff is admittedly not exactly bulging at the seams, but what they've chosen is actually worth inclusion. The "Have You Ever Been In Love" demo is superb - while their molecular-level love of Soul Music shines through with their inclusion of classy covers by The O'Jays ("Me And Mrs. Jones") and The Mad Lads ("I Want Someone"). And the box set's title song "Do What You Want, Be What You Are" is given an awesome 2007 live going over that show these white Philly dudes have more soul in their little fingers than most people do in their entire bodies. Pretty impressive stuff...

Niggles - fans will immediately notice that two huge favourites "When The Morning Comes" and "Everytime You Go Away" are represented here by 'live' versions and not their beloved studio originals - but I'd defend the choices. The 1975 version of "When The Morning Comes" features a rare 'duo-only' live setting and its intimacy is just lovely - while the 9:30 minutes version of "Everytime You Go Away" features a churchy organ feel and is fabulously fleshed out with Acapella passages that elicit a genuinely thrilled response from the Japanese audience. I can see why they were chosen. The same applies to the beautiful Phillip Mitchell song "Starting All Over Again" - Hall has chosen a live version, but he's done so because it somehow has the depth it deserves this way.

Omissions - there's a great soulful exclusive on the 1999 soundtrack to "Runaway Bride" called "And That's What Hurts" - and it really should be on here (perfect box set material). There's nothing from the "Marigold Sky" album (1997) and 2005's covers set "Our Kind Of Soul" had 3 new songs, one of which was the blindingly good "Don't Turn Your Back On Me" - again a no-show. There's not enough from the wonderful "Change Of Season" album either and of course no solo stuff. Still - and I must stress this - what's on here is the business.

Since 2009 Daryl Hall has become something of an Internet hero with his stunning "Live From Daryl's House" broadcasts - they feature him and invited musical pals going through Hall & Oates back catalogue with sidesteps into other favourite songs too. It features a band professionally set up in his living room with chitty-chatty clips in between. Check out soulful YouTube clips of "Pick Up The Pieces" with Alan Gorrie from the Average White Band, "Can We Still Be Friends" with Todd Rundgren, "Something To Talk About" (a Bonnie Raitt cover) and "Black Horse And A Cherry Tree" with KT Tunstall and "Cruel To Be Kind" with Nick Lowe. And prepare yourself to be quietly blown away.

To sum up - for most people a simple "Best Of" would probably suffice, but I'd urge to dig deeper into your pocket. This Box Set is an impressive body of work - superbly presented, well thought out and beautifully mastered. It deserves (like the best things in life) to be put high on your "kiss list". And those let those Eighties productions put you off either.

Honestly - sometimes you just need a shoulder-pad and a big hairdo. Way to go boys...
33 comments| 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 May 2016
I've been a huge fan of Hall and Oates since 1977 and I have every album in my collection and have been lucky enough to see them live a couple of times. Although I have seemingly all the tracks they ever recorded in my collection there are tracks on this massive collection that are new to me. I particularly like the live tracks recorded in London back when they were starting out. These tracks are so clean and fresh and free from any of the vocal affectations that Daryl indulges in when singing live. As much as I love H&O and I can say that they have been the soundtrack to the last 40 years of my life Daryl can be irritating when he ad libs at the end if his tunes. But they are his tunes and he can do what he likes with them I suppose.
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on 8 December 2009
I bought this box set for my husband who is a huge fan of Hall & Oates. He is someone who loves to be able to look at something whilst listening. 4 CD's, with a booklet too, some unreleased stuff. All in all he really is enjoying this box set. Highly recommended.
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on 4 November 2009
I THINK IS VERY COMPLICATED TO DO A COLLECTION OF A AN IMPORTANT MUSICIANS, IN THIS CASE OF THIS WONDERFUL DUET, THERE ARE AN IMPORTANT GREATEST HITS OF HIM, BUT THIS IS THE DEFINITIVE AND THE MOST COMPLETE COLLECTION OF DARYL HALL AND JOHN OATES.
THERE ARE ONLY A THING THAT I MISSED OF THEY. WHAT ABOUT YOUR PROMOTIONAL CLIPS IN DVD? THEN IT WILL BE MORE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION. MAYBE COMBINATED WITH SOME LIVE PERFOMANCES (ALWAYS INCREDIBLE!). ABOUT THE SONGS NOTHING TO SAY........THERE ARE THE BEST!!
11 comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 15 September 2015
good band
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