“The difference between Pop and Rock ‘n Roll? You might get fucked!” – Robert Fripp.
If this is the case, then in 1977 Daryl Hall must have really wanted to get laid. Enlisting the aforementioned Fripp (King Crimson) as a producer and collaborator, Hall with his solo debut sought to break free of the pop world that both he and his mustachioed partner in crime, Oates, had been so successful in. The album, entitled Sacred Songs, delved into Hall’s fascination with magick and the weirder edge of town. An art rock album loaded with edgy tunes and Frippertronics (a tape loop system devised by the guitarist/producer to create many of the abstract and synth-like soundscapes that the record boasts) is nothing short of breathtaking and a record that shares more in common with David Bowie and Brian Eno’s Berlin trilogy than almost anything else in the Hall and Oates catalog. Held back from official release until 1980, due to the fact the record label thought it wasn’t commercial enough (it eventually peaked at No. 58 on the Billboard charts when released, despite the lack of a single).
Dropping the needle on side one, things start out fairly straightforward but then the weirdness starts to creep in. By the time the second track starts up, in spite of its poppy sound, it doesn’t take too long to realize it’s a gigantic kiss off to both the label and fans who have got to have “Something in 4/4 time.” The twisted narrative of “Babs and Babs” takes a turn for the abstract a few minutes in, as the droning feedback and guitar loops take hold and the song begins to melt into some otherworldly sounds. From the ambient soundscape of “Urban Landscape,” things transition into the harder rock edge with side 1 closer “NYCNY.”
Side two begins with the futuristic, blue-eyed soul of “The Farther Away I Am.” Bowie’s character Ziggy Stardust sounds like he could have penned the ballad “Why Was It So Easy,” perhaps if he landed on this planet a few years later than his initial arrival. The rest of side two’s tracks play on pleasantly with highlights becoming the modern sounding psychedelic vibes of “Survive” and the Todd Rundgren-esque closer “Without Tears.” In a very real sense, this record truly represents a window into the alternate life of a pop star. It’s a fascinating one, executed expertly. Play it for a friend who might only know Mr. Hall for his celebrity cooking shows and dentist office hits – they might just have their minds blown.
Throwback Thursday #05
Genre/ Tags: Singer/ Songwriter, Art Rock
Sacred Songs LP: Tracklist:
1.) Sacred Songs
2.) Something in 4/4 Time
3.) Babs and Babs
4.) Urban Landscape
6.) The Farther Away I Am
7.) Why Was It So Easy
8.) Don’t Leave Me Alone With Her
10.) Without Tears