Daryl Hall & John Oates Never 'Abandoned' Their Ambition

Daryl Hall & John Oates in 1973
Photo Credit
GAB Archive/Redferns

On Nov. 3, 1973, blue-eyed soul duo Daryl Hall & John Oates released their second album - although in terms of its success, it might as well have been their first.

When the duo released their debut LP, Whole Oats, in 1972, it...didn’t do great. This is not speaking disparagingly of the album, it’s just a fact: not only did it fail to chart, but the two singles released from the LP – “Goodnight and Good Morning” and “I’m Sorry” – both suffered the same fate. Understandably underwhelmed by the album’s reception, Hall & Oates decided to shift their base of operations from Philadelphia to New York in the hopes that it might help boost their fortunes. In doing so, they also forged a strong bond with their producer, Arif Mardin, a move which made a major difference during the recording of their sophomore LP, Abandoned Luncheonette.

"Recording that album was where we learned how songs become records,” Oates told The Huffington Post. “Our producer, the legendary Arif Mardin, carefully crafted each song, every bit of nuance, bringing in the perfect players for the right moments. And it all worked together as one beautiful musical tapestry."

That said, Abandoned Luncheonette still wasn’t what you’d call an instant smash. Indeed, it took audiences so long to latch onto the record that by the time it did, they had signed a different record deal!

When the album’s single, “She’s Gone,” was initially released, it made it only as high as No. 60 before beginning its descent. Over time, however, the song took on a life of its own, with Tavares recording a version that went all the way to the top of the Billboard R&B singles chart. Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on the song’s popularity - and on the heels of their first Top 10 hit, 1975's "Sara Smile," which was released by RCA - Atlantic Records opted to reissue Hall & Oates’ version. And – son of a gun! – this time it became a Top 10 hit. In turn, Abandoned Luncheonette also got a major boost, hitting a chart high of #33 on the Billboard 200.

When it comes to blue-eyed soul in the ‘70s, it doesn’t get much better than Abandoned Luncheonette. That’s not to say that we’re unwilling to hear your arguments as to what album might beat it, but we’re locked in when it comes to our estimation that, at the very least, it’s absolutely one of the best.

READ MORE: July 1980: Hall and Oates Release "Voices"

That title, by the way, comes from the former Rosedale Diner, a childhood favorite of Daryl's in Pottstown, PA. When the structure went out of business, it was indeed abandoned just off of Route 724 in nearby Kenilworth. Daryl and John secured permission to take pictures of the decaying structure, but also snuck inside for a photo that made the album's back cover. The owner was none too pleased, but the rest, as they say, is history!

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