Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tony Toni Toné

  • The Revival [Wing, 1990] **
  • Sons of Soul [Polygram, 1993] *
  • House of Music [Mercury, 1996] A
  • Hits [Mercury, 1997] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Revival [Wing, 1990]
who says a love band can't play funk music? ("Feels Good," "Oakland Stroke") **

Sons of Soul [Polygram, 1993]
sexy liars of the year ("If I Had No Loot," "Anniversary") *

House of Music [Mercury, 1996]
Launched by a hilariously gutsy Al Green hommage that knows the great man's every moue and off-beat, Raphael Saadiq and his henchmen give the r&b revival what for, constructing a generous original style from a varied history they know inside out--Tempts, Sly, Blue Magic, Kurtis Blow. And for almost every sound they provide a sharp song, which is more than Holland-Dozier-Holland and Gamble-Huff could manage when they were compelled to stick to one. Defeating second-half trail-off and a CD-age windiness the band isn't beatwise enough to beat, Saadiq's flexible, sensitive, slightly nasal tenor, spelled by the grain of D'Wayne Wiggins's workaday baritone, recasts the tradition in its image. Wasn't sampling supposed to strangle this sort of virtuosity at the root? A

Hits [Mercury, 1997]
In the tradition of the Everlys and the Alvins, the Wiggins brothers can't stand each other anymore. So this may be it for them, which is too bad, because only with House of Music did they become true sons of the soul revival, the most accomplished r&b act of the '90s. That's still the album to remember them by. This one merely creates the illusion that they always had it in them to match easy pop funk like "Feels Good" and "Little Walter" with come-ons like the opportunistic "Thinking of You" and the steadfast--a whole year, gosh--"Anniversary." A-