Happy Anniversary: Daryl Hall & John Oates, WAR BABIES

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Happy Anniversary: Daryl Hall & John Oates, WAR BABIES

42 years ago today, Daryl Hall and John Oates released the album that confused their fans and concluded their contract with Atlantic Records, but it was also their first album to hit the Billboard 200 and was later described by Ahmet Ertegun as one of the “great moments in the history of the label.”

As you can see, WAR BABIES is definitely a unique entry in Hall & Oates’ back catalog, and it’s one that earned a rather nasty response from a portion of the duo’s fanbase which Hall describes as “the gingerbread eaters.”

“When John and I first started, we played a lot of folk clubs and small coffee houses, very intimate types of clubs,” Hall told Bullz-Eye.com. “For our first two albums, we were very acoustic and singer/songwriter-y, and it worked really well in that environment, so that was our first following of people. And then suddenly we moved to New York, and we came blasting out with this completely different sound of WAR BABIES…and it scared the shit out of these gingerbread eaters. They literally threw their gingerbread at us. I’m not kidding! I remember there was this one club we played called the Main Point where people started throwing their gingerbread at us. It was a very gratifying thing.”

Maybe not so much for Atlantic Records at the time, however.

“I think there was this sense at the label that I was supposed to steer them into something a little more like SOMETHING/ANYTHING?” Todd Rundgren, who produced WAR BABIES, told Paul Myers in A Wizard, A True Star: Todd Rundgren in the Studio. “When that didn’t happen, I was thrown under the bus by their manager at the time and blamed for all of it.”

Indeed, it was not coincidental that Hall & Oates found themselves on the lookout for a new label after WAR BABIES failed to live up to Atlantic’s commercial expectations, but there’s a silver lining to this story: when Atlantic celebrated its 50th anniversary, the label celebrated the occasion by reissuing 50 classic albums from their back catalog, one of those albums was – drum roll, please – WAR BABIES.