Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Alexander O'Neal

  • Alexander O'Neal [Tabu, 1985] B
  • Hearsay [Tabu, 1987] B+
  • All Mixed Up [Tabu, 1989] A-
  • All True Man [Tabu/Epic Associated, 1991] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Alexander O'Neal [Tabu, 1985]
From the Timexes who gave the world the new improved S.O.S. Band, a new improved black matinee idol. They start one side with a can't-miss postvulnerable ballad, the other with a can't-miss dance song deceptively entitled "Innocent." The rest they leave to craft. Is this any way to serve a new improved matinee idol? Probably. B

Hearsay [Tabu, 1987]
This took a lot longer to break through in the living room than it would have on the dance floor, so homebodies be patient. What makes the difference in the end is that Jam & Lewis are letting their love man play the nasty guy--"Fake" and "Criticize" take the offensive after "Hearsay" puts it sweetly. And unlike Jam & Lewis's nasty girl, O'Neal has the vocal muscle (and biceps) to back his nasty up. What's more, the same muscle turns "Sunshine" into a confection you could take home to mother. B+

All Mixed Up [Tabu, 1989]
Duty dictates that I detail my discographical cavils, to wit: the original versions of six of the eight songs remixed here (one of them in two permutations) were all on Hearsay, the better of the two albums (oops, three: forgot the Xmas collection) he's managed since 1985. Four (five counting the extra permutation) are on side one--everything but "Hearsay" itself. So if like me you own Hearsay, if like me you convinced yourself to enjoy the ballads, you lose: the usual arguments for concision just don't wash here. Maybe these remixes are no better than the originals, but they're also no worse: at seven minutes or so apiece, nothing wears. If you're not tired of that familiar canted bass line climbing those familiar canted steps by now, for all practical purposes you never will be. Get your fast ones here. A-

All True Man [Tabu/Epic Associated, 1991] Neither