Private Eyes (Hall & Oates album)

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Private Eyes
Hall Oates Private Eyes.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1, 1981 (1981-09-01)
StudioElectric Lady Studios
(New York City)
LabelRCA Records
Hall & Oates chronology
Private Eyes
Singles from Private Eyes
  1. "Private Eyes"
    Released: August 29, 1981
  2. "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"
    Released: December 14, 1981
  3. "Did It in a Minute"
    Released: March 1982
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[2]

Private Eyes is the tenth studio album by American pop music duo Hall & Oates. The album was released on September 1, 1981, by RCA Records. The album includes two #1 hits—the title track, "Private Eyes" and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)", as well as the top ten hit "Did It in a Minute". "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" also spent a week at the top of the R&B charts—a rare accomplishment for a white band.

Background and writing[edit]

Though the act had hit the upper reaches of the Billboard charts with "She's Gone", "Sara Smile", and "Rich Girl", the group didn't return to major mainstream success until it released a cover version of The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" on its 1980 album, Voices. The heavy airplay eventually led to the duo's first No. 1 hit in four years, the Voices release, "Kiss on My List" in early 1981.

As the liner notes to the 2004 Private Eyes reissue indicate, it was while Daryl Hall and John Oates were recording the follow-up album in their adopted hometown of New York City, during the spring of 1981, that "Kiss on My List" went to number one in three trade publications. Determined to follow up on their success, the duo produced Private Eyes assisted by their co-producer Neil Kernon.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Private Eyes"Sara Allen, Janna Allen, Daryl Hall, Warren Pash3:39
2."Looking for a Good Sign"Hall3:57
3."I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)"S. Allen, Hall, John Oates5:09
4."Mano a Mano"Oates3:56
5."Did It in a Minute"S. Allen, J. Allen, Hall3:39
Side two
6."Head Above Water"S. Allen, Hall, Oates3:36
7."Tell Me What You Want"S. Allen, Hall3:51
8."Friday Let Me Down"S. Allen, Hall, Oates3:35
9."Unguarded Minute"S. Allen, Hall, Oates4:10
10."Your Imagination"Hall3:34
11."Some Men"Hall4:15


  • Produced by Daryl Hall, John Oates and Neil Kernon.
  • Engineered and Mixed by Neil Kernon
  • Assistant Engineer: Bruce Buchalter
  • Recorded at Electric Lady Studios (New York, NY).
  • Art Direction, Design and Cover Photo: Ed Caraeff
  • Inner Sleeve Photo: Lynn Goldsmith
  • Management and Direction: Tommy Mottola
  • Equipment Technician: Mike Klvana


Singles and notable songs[edit]

The following singles were released from the album, with the highest charting positions listed.

# Title US UK
1. "Private Eyes" 1 32
2. "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" 1 8
3. "Did It in a Minute" 9
4. "Your Imagination" 33

The title track of Private Eyes builds on the punchy sound of "Kiss on My List". The handclap chorus and vocal/keyboard hooks of the recording were augmented by the promotional video, featuring the band wearing detective garb (trench coats, fedoras, and suits). It was one of the duo's earliest hit videos on MTV.

While the "Private Eyes" tune remains a rock-and-soul signature of the duo, its huge success was eclipsed by the second single from the Private Eyes album—"I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)", released in the fall of 1981 before the start of the Christmas season. It topped the pop, R&B and dance charts. It remains one of the few songs by a white act to top both pop and R&B, and among the most heavily sampled songs in the history of hip hop (for a list of acts who've covered/quoted from it, see the entry for the song).

The other charted songs from the Private Eyes album include the Top 40 hit "Your Imagination", and "Did It in a Minute", a top ten hit with a similar rhythm to "Private Eyes" and "Kiss on My List".

Among the other entries on the album is "Looking for a Good Sign", which the duo (in the original liner notes) dedicates to the original lineup of The Temptations, a major influence on Hall and Oates. The duo would eventually perform with classic Tempts vocalists David Ruffin and Eddie Kendrick at Live Aid and on their Live at the Apollo album in 1985. According to American Songwriter, Daryl Hall states: "'Looking for a Good Sign' was one of the few songs in my life that I actually dreamed. I woke up in the morning and ran to the tape recorder and sang my dream into the tape recorder and got that. It's great... it's a dream song." Hall & Oates also sang with The Temptations at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Hall & Oates' biggest success would come the following year with the album H2O, but many critics term Private Eyes as their creative and cultural peak, not only for its artistic and commercial success but for its influence.[3][4]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[5] 27
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[6] 14
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[7] 13
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[8] 9
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[9] 17
UK Albums (OCC)[10] 8
US Billboard 200[11] 5
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[12] 11


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[13] 1× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[14] 1× Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[15] 1× Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Daryl Hall & John Oates: Private Eyes". AllMusic. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  2. ^ Berger, Arion (2004). "Daryl Hall & John Oates". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 358. ISBN 0743201698.
  3. ^ Private Eyes at AllMusic
  4. ^
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  6. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0479". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  7. ^ " – Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  8. ^ " – Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  9. ^ " – Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  10. ^ "Daryl Hall & John Oates | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  11. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  12. ^ "Daryl Hall John Oates Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  13. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Hall & Oates – Private Eyes". Music Canada. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  14. ^ "British album certifications – Daryl Hall & John Oates – Private Eyes". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved August 24, 2017. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Private Eyes in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  15. ^ "American album certifications – Hall & Oates – H 2 O". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 24, 2017. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.