After an amazing run of success in the early Eighties, Daryl Hall & John Oates took a well-deserved break. While Oates tried his hand at producing (particularly Icehouse’s Top 10 hit “Electric Blue”), Daryl worked on and released his second solo album, 1986‘s “Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine”. The album paired Daryl with Eurythmic Dave Stewart and found him joined by guests like Joni Mitchell. “Three Hearts” was a mildly successful album, spawning the Top 10 hit “Dreamtime” (YouTube the trippy video if you feel so inclined), but it was something of a letdown sales-wise after H2O’s track record of the previous six years.

That’s not to say that “Three Hearts” was a bad album. Qualitatively, it was as good as anything Hall & Oates released during their “hit” period, and Stewart gave Hall a more punchy, slightly avant-garde dance rock sound. However, given Hall’s penchant for soulful vocals, it makes perfect sense that “Three Hearts”’  best song is a ballad. “Someone Like You” may have only peaked at #57 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, but it stands as one of the best vocal performances of Hall’s entire career.

The song itself is a rock steady swaying groover with hints of Motown in both the rhythm and the background vocals, embellished with the airy synthesizers that were a hallmark of the era. However, you’re not exactly paying attention to the background arrangement during this song. Hall’s vocals are alternately forceful and pleading as he laments the loss of a love and hopes that he finds someone exactly like her the next time around. A guitar solo in the song’s bridge matches the intensity of Hall’s vocal, and the song ends with Hall begging “please send me down somebody to love” with an urgency that will bring tears to your eyes.

Not quite sure why this song wasn’t bigger than it was…perhaps because it was the third single from the underperforming “Three Hearts”, it wasn’t given the proper promotional push. If you manage to get your paws on a copy of “Three Hearts”, however (it’s been out of print for some time), it’s worth it for this show-stopping performance alone. (Note: “Someone Like You” is also available on Hall & Oates “Ballads Collection”).