Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jeffrey Osborne

  • Don't Stop [A&M, 1985] B+
  • Emotional [A&M, 1986] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Don't Stop [A&M, 1985]
Osborne proves that the secularization of black pop needn't mean the end of a great vocal tradition, only of its church roots, and he doesn't sing as if he learned how at Performing Arts, either. Instead he sounds like what he is--a son of the most uncompromised black secular music, funk. The slightly herky-jerk bent of his phrasing and pronunciation is geared to the rhythm, and when he bears down into a ballad he sounds fresher than more conventionally soulful singers. Of course, he also sounds stranger if you're not prepared, which is why the uninitiated will take more readily to the somewhat stronger material on Stay With Me Tonight. Me, I just got the message, and I've been playing both. B+

Emotional [A&M, 1986]
I'm trying to figure out what it means to say I kind of like this record, a big-budget multiproducer job of the sort suddenly standard in crossoverland. It's not just that I'm impressed with all the heavy equipment, from Osborne's dolomite voice to the usual phalanx of hitmen turning out materiel. I respond--that's one thing kind of liking it means. And though the response feels synthetic, it's not unreal. Which is just what I'd say of the emotions on display, from be-mine to Soweto-must-be-free. B