Who’s the most successful duo of the rock era? I think most people’s first reaction would rightfully be Simon & Garfunkel, while some would choose The Everly Brothers. Upset picks could go to Sam & Dave, The Carpenters, Loggins & Messina, or Jan & Dean. And some jackasses might even claim The White Stripes. They’d all be wrong (especially the bougie dolts in that last group). The answer, at least according to Billboard Magazine, the Recording Industry Association of America, and, well, sales results, is Philadelphia’s own beloved blue-eyed soul icons, Hall & Oates. Scoff if you must – I remember those early ’80’s videos, Daryl Hall’s mullet, and John Oates’ porn stash too – but the tunes and the numbers don’t lie: 6 Billboard #1 songs, 34 charting hits, 13 platinum or gold albums. And for every ‘Kiss On My List’ or ‘Maneater’ that might lean towards cringeworthy in retrospect, there was also ‘She’s Gone’ and ‘Sara Smile,’ two impeccable songs I’d put up against near anything from the glorious mid-70’s pop/rock era.
This song is none of them. It’s actually somewhat of a deep cut from the 1976 album Bigger Than Both Of Us, the opening track which immediately preceded what’s probably the band’s single most identifiable song, ‘Rich Girl.’ I heard it this week, and despite how good it still sounded, I was immediately crestfallen. Some readers may recall my elaborate travails last year compiling the 1970’s playlist for my high school reunion event (culminating with the show-stopping finale selection of ‘Rosalita’), yet somehow in my months of research (okay, it was really closer to a year), I failed to come up with this super-obvious, ultra-applicable jewel, ‘Back Together Again.’ Hell, the chorus even closes with, “Back together again, back together again / The old songs never end, and that’s something to believe in.” Now, regardless of their choice to end that sentence with a preposition – something which might’ve irked our high school English teachers – that rousing line perfectly nails the nostalgic spirit of what we were seeking for the old-school occasion. That is, it would have. I’ll have to learn to live with the shame of whiffing so utterly on it (though in fairness, the list as assembled was still pretty irreproachable). I think in time I can. Just as legions of fans of rock’s most eminent duo have had to learn to live with John Oates’ moustache.