Sat., Nov. 3, 1979, Los Angeles Times
With A Little Help
Hall and Oates at the Roxy
BY DENNIS HUNT
Times Staff Writer
Don't believe 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 much
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
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
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.