On Nov. 12, 1974, Daryl Hall and John Oates released their third album, War Babies. The LP was a hard-edged recording from the duo and, consequently, received negative reviews as a follow-up to their appealing and soulful Abandoned Luncheonette album.
Hall and Oates had been moving away from their folk roots and this album, produced by Todd Rundgren, took them into a direction of synthesized rock and self-aware lyrics about the music industry and its malaise on the 1970s.
Critics and fans blamed Rundgren for hijacking the album (he brought in session musicians from his Utopia recordings), but Hall and Oates are thoroughly present throughout the work. “You’re Much Too Soon” has Hall crooning as lovely as previous recordings, foreshadowing future songs that fans would love in the ’80s.
The album opens with a John Oates song, “Can’t Stop the Music (He Played It Much Too Long),” about a rock star who has played a hit single so many times that he can’t remember its ending. The song seques into “Is It a Star?” a synthesized pop ballad about the reality and human frailty of rock stardom.
War Babies would be the first Hall & Oates album to enter the Top 100 on the Billboard Top LPs and Tape charts, reaching #86. It would also be the last Hall & Oates album on Atlantic Records (the duo would move to RCA in 1975, releasing the self-titled LP with the silver cover).