The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Some people may quibble with the words “masters” and “Hall and Oates” being together in the title of The Bird and the Bee‘s latest album, Interpreting the Masters, Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. Most of Hall and Oates‘ chart-topping career was the result of playing to the easily derided adult contemporary market.
But if I say “rich girl,” you probably say, “and you’re going too far, ’cause you know it don’t matter anyway … ”
The album opens with a new tribute tune, Heard it on the Radio, a cute effort — “When we first kissed, it made it to my list” — but then it gets to the meat of the album, B&B’s take on eight H&O classics. Yes, I said classics.
Three of the songs are taken from the 1981 smash Private Eyes, though it’s earlier hits such as Sara Smile and She’s Gone that fare best here. Kurstin, like Hall and Oates, gets a bit carried away with the synthesizers on tunes like Private Eyes and I Can’t Go for That.
George and Kurstin’s detachment play really well with passive lyrics of Sara, and George brings a perfectly measured breathiness to She’s Gone. Their interpretation is careful to preserve elements like the “was-to” echo, with the straighter vocal playing the response. Nice.
The most fun is Rich Girl with George taking on the role of reprimanding a friend she knows all too well, particularly as she purrs the outro line, “You’re a rich b—-, girl.” I was hoping for a little edge in Maneater, until I remembered The Bird and the Bee don’t do edge. What they do is intrigue, and this spin borrows heavily from Witch, the James Bond-theme sound-alike from last year’s Ray Guns are Not Just the Future.
Another album of new material is certainly what we Bird and Bee fans most look forward to. But for irresistible diversions, Interpreting the Masters is very appealing.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich