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If you can stomach the sight of Oates in tight purple pants with a pornstar moustache, what's on offer here is an excellent mainstream 1980's pop album with New Wave, R&B, Adult Contemporary, and power/pop tendencies, each in equal measure only a mild tendency, because aiming for the charts means aiming for the widest possible audience, which means MOR.

Kids today may not know (because they weren't even born until at least a decade later), but anyone over 40 remembers Hall & Oates as the most successful musical duo ever, dominating the airwaves with a string of hit albums and singles during the first half of the 80's. Forget Michael Jackson - he had one album that ruled radio for one year in the 80's - these guys had at least four albums in a row that rocked MTV and FM radio for five years.

As a result, Hall & Oates became one of the most widely reviled musical acts in history, as is always the case with the overplayed. The 80's have a lot to answer for, and only widespread snorting of Bolivian marching powder can possibly explain the new artwork for the CD, easily the most cringeably embarrassing in my collection. Still, even if you have to hide the CD out of sight of visitors, it would likely gain time in your player.

Containing three massive hits, plus a fourth massive hit with a cover of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", the album set off a deluge of Hall & Oates mania. With its bouncy piano, "Kiss On My List" was the big one, co-written by Hall with his long-time girlfriend. Then there's the slightly less catchy "You Make My Dreams" - a fine follow-up in similar vein - and the ballad "Everytime You Go Away" works well in its understated original form here.

Beyond those, there's a mixed bag of worthy-to-meh album tracks. Oates' opener "How Does It Feel To Be Back" and "Hard To Be In Love With You" could've been hit singles if it had been regular practice to issue that many off an album in 1980 (three at the most was standard industry practice back then - it was Michael Jackson's Thriller that upped the stakes by releasing five or six hit singles off the same album).

"United State" overdoes the Costello-style wordplay in a misguided attempted to be clever, though musically it's fine, and "Gotta Lotta Nerve (Perfect Perfect)" is a mildly irrating rocker, as might be guessed from the title.

The mildly rocking "Big Kids" offers a bit of mild political commentary, pointing out that the world's leaders - like all adults - are just big kids. And the final two tracks are throwaway goofballs, with Oates' "Africa" the nadir, and "Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear the Voices)" an uncharming doo-wop pastiche.

Mildly irritating, mildly rocking, mildly clever - and supremely catchy - that's Voices. Now that the 1980's are long gone, the album can be safely appreciated for the high quality, glossy cotton-candy diversion it always was.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

Posted: Monday 19th Nov 2018 10:08 AM
Recent album review
It's best to view White Light/White Heat and this album as two sides of the same coin - it's as if the two sides to the band were deliberately split onto two separate albums, rather than be integrated as on the debut.

Whilst the harder-rocking side of the Velvets was more influential, the band's folkier, quieter leanings make for more listenable music, making this the one Velvet Underground album I can enjoy all the way through (except that is, for the psychedelic multi-track experiment "The Murder Mystery").

With the band concentrating on his songwriting rather than jamming, Reed hits a peak in that regard that he never had before, or subsequently. Although there are uptempo rockers such as "What Goes On", that link to the band's white-noise roots, most of the album consists of low-key ballads like "Pale Blue Eyes", a great song that drags a bit too slow and long. But hey, Reed was probably strung out on smack when he recorded it.

Shockingly, "Jesus" is straight-up Gospel of the kind that Pat Robertson could hum, and there's not a hint of Reed being ironic there either. So Reed's mood seems to have lifted, despite the sop to kinky sex called "Some Kinda Love", and "Beginning to See the Light" and "I'm Set Free" are frankly optimistic and - *gasp!* - warm and moving.

The album ends on one of my all time favorite Velvet Underground numbers, "After Hours", a sweet but creepy ode to death, wonderfully sung by drummer Moe Tucker.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise

Posted: Tuesday 20th Nov 2018 10:23 AM
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