Just in time for Christmas, legendary RnB singer Alexander O’Neal today celebrates 30 years since his album, ‘Hearsay’ with its re-release, ‘Hearsay30’.
Originally released in 1987 and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, ‘Hearsay 30′, out today on Resurrection Records, is essentially a brand new album, having been re-recorded using all new vocals and with a 9-piece band. Mastered and recorded in Manchester, ’30’ brings a whole new breath to the album from the man whose voice has been praised for having the same grain and range as Otis Redding.
Alexander O’Neal rose to prominence on both sides of the Atlantic with his ‘Hearsay’ album, which spawned the hits ‘What Can I Say To Make You Love Me?’, ‘The Lovers’, ‘Never Knew Love Like This’, and ‘Fake’. Even if you don’t think you’re familiar his music, it doesn’t take much listening to find something you know. This happened for us with the fourth track, ‘Sunshine’: O’Neal’s voice smooth as caramel, oozed over the syncopation of the horns, and took us on a trip down memory lane.
‘Hearsay 30’ is funky and groovy, and none more so than when O’Neal sings ‘Fake’. The steady rhythm of the drums, and the guitars which touch ever so slightly on the wah pedal, as well as O’Neal’s rich vocals, defy anyone not to get up and dance.
Alexander O’Neal is justifiably proud of ‘Hearsay30’ and said of the album,
“I try not to get too emotional about things, but I am not ashamed to admit that when I heard the new recordings of all those great songs, it felt incredible man. I never expected we could create something so special, it’s certainly one of the things I am most proud of in my career to date.”
When it was first released in 1987, ‘Hearsay’ charted at a peak of 29 on the Billboard 200, and reached the #2 spot on top R&B/Hip Hop charts. This new version seems likely to do similar, with fans of the original and newcomers alike praising O’Neal’s incredible voice. O’Neal has been touring this year with the ’30 Years Of Hearsay’ tour, and will be going straight back into the studio to put the last few touches on his next album, ‘Resurrected’. This will be followed by another tour across the UK in April, where he’ll be singing both from his extensive back catalogue, and his new music.
It’s hard to choose a highlight from ‘Hearsay30’, which is not to say it’s a bad album, but rather that there’s so many great songs to choose from. It’s even more difficult to listen to for review purposes: too often we got caught up just *enjoying* the music, rather than casting a critical ear over it. Having said that, isn’t that what all artists are looking for? For people to enjoy their rather than poke holes in it?
The songs on ‘Hearsay30’ might well be reworkings of classics, but they’ve not dated at all, and are just as relevant today as they were back in 1987. Case in point, opening track, ‘Criticize’:
“Can’t you find something else to talk about?
Is this song the only one you sing?
Makes you look better when you put things down?
Value your opinion!
Don’t criticize my friends
Criticize my ideas
Don’t criticize my life style
I’m fed up ’cause all you want to do is criticize.”
In this day and age of social media when it seems keyboard warriors rule with their constant bullying and belittling of others from the relative anonymity of their keyboards, lyrics such as these bring home the hard truth that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Alexander O’Neal sets out on the Resurrected tour in Glasgow, on April 6, winding up at the London Palladium on the 25th of that month. See here for tickets and further information. You can catch him tonight at The Muni, Lancashire, and The Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl, tomorrow.