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Alex Loves

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Album Review

Some singers have the luxury of being able to disappear from the scene for several years seemingly without it having a detrimental effect on their careers. Alexander O'Neal is one such singer, returning with his ninth album, excluding a couple of hits compilations, featuring 15 tracks, all covers of romantic love songs from the 1960s through to the '90s. The man who was once considered the second most romantic soul voice in the world to Luther Vandross had not charted since 1993 with the album Love Makes No Sense and here he was as if nothing had happened in the meantime with this selection of ballads and love songs. However, the choice of songs on Alex Loves was rather a strange mixture and most simply didn't work, maybe his voice was just too big to cover songs such as "Always and Forever," "Cherish," and "I'll Make Love to You," all of which should have had a little more tenderness and a lot less bombast. "Babe" was almost a carbon copy of the Styx original, except for the voice of course, as was the Barry White song "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" which one really wouldn't have expected O'Neal to have done any differently. The opening track was the Atlantic Starr hit "Secret Lovers" on which O'Neal was joined by Mica Paris, but they weren't all originally soul songs, the covers of Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting" and Elton John's "Your Song" were not songs that suited his voice and consequently came over as weak karaoke versions. When he really could have let rip and put some soul into a song, on "When a Man Loves a Woman," he failed to do so, preferring instead a Hammond organ backing over a syncopated beat. Actually they weren't all cover versions as he reprised the song that was his very own first hit, "Saturday Love," which was followed directly on this album by his second hit "If You Were Here Tonight." Not an album to recommend except to the die-hard fans who kept his name alive while he was away.


Born: 15 November 1953 in Natchez, MS

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

This Minneapolis, Minnesota (via Natchez, Mississippi) soul man cut his teeth in the Time but bounced before the band signed with Warner Bros. His tough voice has the same grain and range as that of Otis Redding. Like that master, Alexander O'Neal was comfortable with pumping dancefloor burners and slinky couch-cuddlers. He's certainly the best singer Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have ever produced, and the strength of his material and his robust voice can be heard on releases including 1985's Alexander...
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