Wed. Jul. 28, 2021

Alexander O’ Neal – Criticize (Remix)

This Beat Is Mine! Alexander O’ Neal – Criticize (Remix) (Tabu)

“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.”
As many words that pretty much describe how the one under the spotlights may happen to feel at times. Certainly enjoying glory, but also its counterpart in the meantime. In other words, the pressure. Besides, I’m not even thinkin’ as to how it can be nowadays with the social networks. With anybody in the position to say anything almost without control.

The more famous you are, the more solid you have to be as a matter of fact. Pretty much finding yourself alone, at the epicenter of all the attentions. With each of your acts endin’ up like being scanned. It is to say how not everybody can stand such a situation at the end. And even more when comin’ to consider the long term. Michael Jackson and Prince made it. But at which price? And so did Luther Vandross. But none of them are here anymore. Meanwhile O’Neal has never managed to step back to the position that’s been his by the time he was working with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. A position that eventually allowed him to establish a record in the UK. The one for an African-American performer selling out six straight nights at Wembley Arena, which he stills holds nowadays…

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With warm thanks to London-based correspondent, Valerie Johnson, for this week’s suggestion…

Alexander O’Neal first saw the light of the day back on Nov. 15, 1953 in Natchez, MS, a few months after his father got killed. He attended Alcorn State University after graduating from high school in his hometown. And at age of 20, he relocated to Minneapolis, where he started working as a petrol-pump attendant. He also happened to be a keen football player before venturing into singing. Believing in his vocal abilities, he sang with local group The Philadelphia Stories before forming his own bands. First with The Black Market Band then The Mystics.

O’Neal delivered his first single – ‘Do You Dare’ – on Erect Records back in 1982. Meanwhile his follow-up – ‘Attitude’ – saw the light the year after on Rich Records, featuring Jesse Johnson on guitar. He then came to join Flyte Tyme as their lead singer. A band which included Monte Moir, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. But a disagreement with Prince would get him to soon after leave the band with Morris Day replacing him.

In 1984, O’Neal signed a deal with Clarence Avant‘s Tabu Records. There, he did some backing vocals for labelmates The S.O.S. Band and Cherrelle. The year after seeing him releasing his eponymous debut-album. But also duetting with Cherrelle on ‘Saturday Love’ and eventually score his first R&B Top 10 single.

1987 saw him gettin’ a new status with the release of his ‘Hearsay’ album. An effort which yelded a bunch of classics for him. From ‘Fake’ to ‘Criticize’. But also ‘(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me’, ‘The Lovers’ and ‘Never Knew Love Like This’. Eventually enjoying greater success in the UK than he was in his native US. Such as he brilliantly demonstrated it with six sold out nights at Wembley Arena. ‘Hearsay’ reapparing the year after as a part of an ‘All Mixed Up’ remix album.

Alexander O’Neal released his fourth album – ‘All True Man’ – by the beginning of 1991. But although it featured extra charting singles such as its title cut and ‘What Is This Thing Called Love’ (with remixes courtesy of David Morales and Frankie Knuckles), its sales did not reach the level of ‘Hearsay’. No more than its follow-up – ‘Love Makes No Sense’ – which was his first without without production from Jam and Lewis and his last for Tabu back in 1993. Eventually marking O’Neal‘s progressive fall along with time. Such as his signature with Motown although no singles or albums saw the light at the time.

From then on, none of O’Neal‘s attempts to recapture his glory happened to work unfortunately. Including his latest ones such as his re-recording of ‘Fake’ with Mancunian band Mamma Freedom back in 2016. With the same applying to ‘Hearsay30’, a re-recording of his 1987 ‘Hearsay’ album.

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