Daryl Hall, Sacred Songs - Cult Pick

Posted on 08. Feb, 2009 by in Music

Daryl Hall
Sacred Songs
After the creatively stifling and uptight 1977 recording process of Hall and Oates’ Beauty on a Black Street, soul-pop crooner Daryl Hall needed to cut loose a bit and dig back into the loose roots that gave birth to such hits as “Rich Girl” and “Sara Smile”. At the time, Oates was off to tend to some non-musical personal endeavors, and Hall was in need of a collaborator to help him find his soul again. So, in perhaps one of the most befuddling pairings of all time, Hall teamed up with King Crimson’s prog-rock progenitor, Robert Fripp, for his debut solo album, Sacred Songs. Aside from tapping Fripp to produce the songs and play guitar, Hall was also getting into occultist philosophy at the time he was writing the album, adding another element to the already outlandish material (check out Hall singing about “earth magick” on “Without Tears”).
The results of this unlikely pairing are strangely brilliant. Hall’s soaring vocal delivery is complimented by Fripp’s maniacal guitar work and layered production, and Fripp’s experimental touches offer some intriguing soundscapes that leave you to ponder what Hall and Oates would have sounded like if Fripp was in the group. (Hall and Oates and Fripp doesn’t really have a ring to it, though). “Something in 4/4 Time” is a perfect example of the album’s unique avant-pop—a walking piano line and Hall’s vocal hooks play out nicely until the middle of the song, when a psychedelic Fripp jam erupts and plays with your brain for half a minute before releasing it back into the chorus. There’s also the bizarre “Babs and Babs” which features a “Frippertronics” middle section that probably rendered the song commercially useless. Oh, and we can’t forget the glam-punk songs “NYCNY” or “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette” - two driving balls of rock n’ roll that could have endeared Hall to the 70’s punk scene if the album had been released in 1977 (when it was recorded), instead of 1980 (RCA apparently didn’t know what to do with it and shelved it for three years).

by Bill Dvorak

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8 Responses to “Daryl Hall, Sacred Songs - Cult Pick”

  1. DevlinC

    08. Feb, 2009

    You Burn Me Up… is actually a bonus track on the CD re-release of Sacred Songs. It originally appears on Robert Fripp’s 1979 solo album “Exposure”, on which Daryl appears on a number of other tracks. If you liked this album, Exposure is a neccessity.

    Reply to this comment
  2. SoandSoul

    08. Feb, 2009

    Good article!

    Reply to this comment
  3. paul

    09. Feb, 2009

    Babs and Babs is a bittersweet song already, a study in contrasts. The frippertronics section is achingly beautiful. A peek into what the world could be like if we could all be a little nicer, and simultaneously a reflection on the sadness of the distance we allow between us all. Something in 4/4 is an uplifting gem. The Fartger Away I Am is a top drawer love song, pure emotion. What an album. The “Record Company Prick” (Zappa, Tinseltown Rebellion Band”) who “shelved” this, Tony Mottola, is or was married to Mariah Carey. Yeah, I can picture the audition…..RCA know what they can do with her records.

    Reply to this comment
  4. RadioKAOS

    10. Feb, 2009

    I was at a pawn shop recently, and found a stack of Hall & Oates records in amongst their vinyl selection. This caused me to search through the entire selection in hopes of finding this album, and to my surprise, I did find it. I had previously purchased it on CD a few years prior.

    One thing which is obvious from this album and “Exposure,” which is not as obvious from Hall & Oates records (possibly excepting “Sara Smile”) is what an amazing singer Daryl Hall is. Robert Fripp is and was dead on in his praise of his vocal abilities.

    Since a previous comment mentioned Tommy Mottola, there were machinations which prevented further collaboration, mainly the huge success Hall & Oates faced after the release of “Private Eyes,” which came out around the time of this album. Robert Fripp had mentioned that he envisioned the 1980s version of King Crimson as being fronted by Hall rather than Adrian Belew, which was not to be.

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  5. VlogHog

    16. Feb, 2009

    Not being a fan of King Crimson or Robert Fripp, I can’t get into this CD.

    It sounds like a Robert Fripp album with Daryl Hall on lead vocals.

    Similarily, the Todd Rundgren produced War Babies by Hall and Oates sounds like a Todd Rundgren album. Though, I like it more than many.

    Not that I’m a Fripp hater. He plays a great guitar solo on Hall And Oates “Don’t Blame It On Love” from Along The Red Ledge(1978).

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  6. Matt Stevens

    28. May, 2010

    Its an interesting record, between the experimental and the commercial.

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  1. Sticky, Sweet, & A Little Overdressed » Blog Archive » Before Ghetto Smile, Frippertronics - 08. Feb, 2009

    [...] they came up on a Google News alert for Daryl Hall (yes, I do care that much, shut up) and had a well-written quick review of Hall’s Sacred Songs album: So, in perhaps one of the most befuddling pairings of all time, [...]

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