Sat., Nov. 3, 1979, Los Angeles Times
With A Little Help
and Oates at the Roxy
BY DENNIS HUNT
Times Staff Writer
everything you see on the Roxy marquee this weekend. It reads "Hall and Oates - Sold
Out" The Thursday - Sunday engagement was indeed sold out long ago but the star of
the show wasn't really Daryl Hall and John Oates, which is probably news to them.
What the opening
night audience saw was the G.E. Smith show. Undoubtedly, few people knew about Smith
before the performance, but certainly many were chattering ecstatically about him
afterward. He's an obscure guitarist in the Hall and Oates band, who may not be obscure
Smith simply stole
the show from Hall and Oates without doing it intentionally. He just commanded more
attention than they did. Besides being a brilliant guitarist, he bas a keen sense of drama
and showmanship. His innocent upstaging was inspired by his intense feeling for his music.
He seemed able to completely lose himself in those fiery rock pieces. This was obvious by
his rapturous expressions and all those fluid but zany movements, some of which were
parodies of the leaps, bounces and leg-scissors commonplace among late '50s and early '60s
rock 'n' roll musicians.
Without Smith, that
band - also including drummer Jerry Marotta, bassist John Siegler and sax player Charlie
DeChant - would have been just good rather than superb. Smith's style is violent. He's one
of those savage strummers who appear to be trying to reduce the guitar to ruins. His
remarkable fervor seemed to inspire the other band members. He was the guiding, driving
force that consistently propelled the unit to excellence.
One reason Smith was
such a compelling figure was his appearance. The others were dressed funky-casual while he
looked as if he had stepped out of another era. With his crew cut, skinny tie,
thin-lapels, slightly baggy gray suit, Smith was a comic replica of musicians in those
early rock 'n' roll bands.
Focusing on Smith
isn't an attempt to belittle Hall and Oates, who put on their usual fine show. This duo,
however has slipped in the past two years because it hasn't had any hit singles. Its new
RCA album, "X-Static," features an apparent hit but whoever selects its singles
hasn't noticed it yet. The song is "Intravino," an amusing and ferociously
rocking tale about a wino.
Hall was the primary
lead singer while Oates played guitar and sang some harmony and lead vocals. They are rock
musicians who came to rock from rhythm and blues. Their rock - "Rich Girl" and
"Sara Smile" are good examples - is potent but their R&B is better. The
highlight of the show was their tumultuous version of Arthur Conley's '60s R&B hit
"Sweet Soul Music."
There's not as much
to say about Hall and Oates because, after all, they weren't the stars of the show.