THOSE CHIMES! Those drums! That rubbery bass! It's gotta be Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis again. Actually, it's Alexander O'Neal's new LP "Hearsay," which was written, performed and produced by the Minneapolis magicians. But then what isn't, these days?
After working wonders for Janet Jackson, Herb Alpert and the Human League, the seemingly infallible Flyte Tyme team has framed "Hearsay" as a noisy party hosted by O'Neal, inserting sassy snippets of "overheard" conversation as intros and interludes between the songs. The consistently solid material should make a name for O'Neal, an underrated singer who has a whole rhythm section in his voice and a personality strong enough to stand up to those unbeatable beats.
As they did with Janet Jackson's "Control," (melodic/rhythmic echoes of which show up here now and then), Jam/Lewis have constructed an unstoppable first side, a strand of black pop pearls beginning with "(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me."
O'Neal already has the No. 1 black single with "Fake," a Time-ly stomper that opens with a bunch of guys dishing someone who wears tinted contact lenses. The singer's self-penned "Criticize," the only number not written by the producers, is fully up to their standards. Cherrelle teams up again with O'Neal to open the slightly softer Side 2 with "Never Knew Love Like This," which resembles their last hit duet, "Saturday Love." We'll be hearing from "Hearsay" this year.
ALEXANDER O'NEAL -- "Hearsay" (Tabu 40320). Appearing Saturday at Carter Barron.