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Hall, Philly sound return sans Oates

WHEN DARYL HALL and John Oates debuted in the music business in the ’70s, their blend of rock, soul and R&B was hailed as a much-needed change of pace. The duo deftly incorporated the popular Philly sound of their hometown into their works.

Now, 22 years after their debut, Hall has returned to those roots with his Epic Records solo debut, “Soul Alone,” which goes on sale Tuesday. The first single, “I’m in a Philly Mood,” best sums up what Hall has created on the album and has already become a staple on adult-contemporary radio.

The singer/songwriter said he was able to work on the album over the past year by using the studio in his upstate New York home and collaborating with writers who are also musicians.

Hall said industry and fan reaction to the new disc has been favorable and “for the first time in a while, it feels really good. It’s the real me.”

Though Hall and Oates released “Change of Season” in 1990, their second offering for Arista, the pair have been working apart since then. The deal with Arista, which began in 1988, ended a 13-year, 11-album run with Arista’s parent, RCA.

And although the band remains under contract to Arista, Hall said there are no plans for a third album.

“John and I aren’t working together these days,” Hall said, noting that Oates is “doing lots of production work. I expect that he’ll have a solo album out sometime, too.”

Hall will spend the rest of the year promoting the album via interviews before touring in late spring.

RADIO REPORT: When it comes to the latest single releases, Top 40 was like a kid at a smorgasbord last week, with a wide variety of new music to choose from. The most popular new song was “Runaway Love” by En Vogue. After four hit singles off their “Funky Divas” album, the danceable lead track off their new EP was added by 137 stations that report to the radio trade magazine Network Forty.

Finishing second was John Mellencamp, whose return to the music scene with the title cut from his upcoming album, “Human Wheels,” was welcomed by 81 stations.

Also making impressive showings were three acts that haven’t hit the pop charts in quite a while, including Meatloaf. It’s been well over a decade since he sold 25 million copies of “Bat Out of Hell.” He kicked off its sequel, “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell,” with the single “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” and 70 stations waxed nostalgic, so to speak. The single is complemented by an extravagant video.

It has been six years since Rick Astley’s deep baritone voice first enticed listeners with “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It looks like his latest record, the ballad “Hopelessly,” will bring him back to the charts, as 158 stations are already playing it.

However, the biggest story may be the imminent massive breakthrough of Capitol Records’ new band Blind Melon. Thirty Top 40 stations jumped the gun and added the song “No Rain” a week before its official release. It’s already been the most-requested song on alternative and AOR radio, and it’s the third-most-requested video on MTV. Album sales are increasing, too, pushing it past platinum, so if Top 40 follows suit, as expected, Blind Melon could become the hottest newcomer of the year.

ALTERNATIVE NO MORE: The top-10 songs at a certain Top 40 radio station include hits from Soul Asylum, Stone Temple Pilots, Radiohead, Lenny Kravitz, Tears for Fears, Stereo MCs, Yello and U2. Is it alternative music kingpin KROQ in Los Angeles? Nope; try KQKY in Kearney, Neb.

That is not an exception. Even in the relatively conservative Midwest and South, more alternative music is being played by Top 40 stations than ever before. Not only are mainstream stations adding the tunes, but alternative-oriented Top 40 stations are popping up in places such as Atlanta, Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Louis and Madison, Wis. — and their ratings are on the upswing.

If that’s not enough evidence of alternative success, consider that San Diego and Chicago now boast two alternative-oriented stations. In San Diego, alternative station XTRA-FM and its more rock-oriented approach will have to deal with XHRM, a station that plays more danceable, female-friendly alternative music. In Chicago, heritage alternative station WXRT is settling for the older fan, while WKQX looks to build its audience with a base of younger listeners.

L.A. SEEN: The residents of Holly House — who include local rock scribe Bill Holdship of BAM and various other journalists — threw their annual end-of-summer party, which has turned into the unofficial see-and-be-seen industry bash.

There was barbecuing galore, kegs of beer and hundreds of guests crammed into a smallish backyard, which was scented with intoxicating night-blooming jasmine, while various musicians and rock writers jammed on the makeshift stage. Squeezing through the extremely jolly gathering were members of Dramarama, MCA artists Greta and manager Dave Crowley, Gary Stewart of Rhino Records, RIP magazine’s Katherine Turman, a slew of reporters from L.A.-based papers, Dwight Twilley, ex-Replacement Slim Dunlap and members of local combo the Visionaries. …

“Blonde Exhibition” was the title of the Madonna impersonator show held recently at the Hyatt House on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, during the Madonna Expo ’93. Conceptualized by producer Dan Gore, the “Blonde Exhibition” featured five Madonna impersonators — who, one by one, went onstage and covered the Material Girl’s entire career in the space of an hour.

Gore hopes to take the amusing show one step further — a la “Beatlemania” and put on the revue in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and possibly even do a film.

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