Alexander O’Neal – Hearsay30 review
Questions, questions, questions… Is this celebration of 80s soul legend O’Neal’s second album a reissue or re-recording? Did the 1987 version seriously go three times platinum in Britain? And why do people of a certain age still go nuts for Criticize, a song that nit-picks the nit-picker? So, in reverse order…
Passive aggression is everywhere. Yes, it did, and never forget fans willingly cavorted with him on a bed during six sold-out nights at Wembley. And finally: this is an all-new recording, made with Manchester band Mamma Freedom, which makes Hearsay30 the equivalent of turning up to your wedding anniversary dinner with a new girlfriend.
So far, so O’Neal. But actually, what the R&B star’s done is give Hearsay a little plastic surgery, dispensing with spoken word interludes, while Jam & Lewis’ hygienic pop production is substituted by a rawer, funk sound.
Nonetheless, like its lyrics, the album’s scarcely more contemporary, so, while underlining O’Neal’s fleeting links with Prince, Fake is still judgmental, and Cryin’ Overtime cynically seeks sympathy with its sincerity. Criticize, too, remains haughty, though brassier, yet one question still remains here: “Is this song the only one you sing?”