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In rotation: John Oates' 'Mississippi Mile'

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There’s often more than a whiff of desperation about “back to the roots” outings by pop musicians, especially those who are well past their commercial prime. But New York City-born John Oates’ exploration of Southern blues, R&B and soul is a pleasant surprise in many ways: heartfelt, relatively modest in scope and consequently more rewarding than might be expected, especially for those of us who were never terribly taken by the lightweight blue-eyed soul he and partner Daryl Hall kept at the top of the pop charts from the mid-’70s through most of the 1980s.

Oates brings a good measure of honest grit to his reworkings of such rock-era standards as Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” and Curtis Mayfield’s Impressions-era hit “It’s All Right.” He also has written a pair of originals, the title tune and “Deep River,” that emanate a real empathy for the richness of music of and surrounding the culturally fertile Mississippi Delta.

It also helps that he’s surrounded himself with people who are immersed in this tradition, from the album’s co-producer, Mike Henderson, to players including dobro master Jerry Douglas, mandolin wiz Sam Bush and blues-steeped singer Bekka Bramlett. By the time he gets around to a swinging back-porch remake of Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” much, if not all from the Hall & Oates era, is forgiven.

John Oates
“Mississippi Mile”
Elektra Nashville


For Hall and Oates, a new appreciation

In rotation: Woody Guthrie's 'Live Wire'

Dolly Parton, Hall & Oates, and the music of Joni Mitchell are Hollywood Bowl-bound in 2011 season 

—Randy Lewis

Comments () | Archives (1)

Yes! Of course, it's an awesome sound and one can tell coming from Johns' heart and soul. Who's to say the best is not yet to come.

John's just an all around talented man whos heart shows in his gift of music. It's so good and real because it does come from his heart.

You go John!


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