Although he has stated his love of Otis Redding, Alexander O'Neal is one of the few R&B singers without an antecedent. The Best of Alexander O'Neal covers his work from three regular release albums from 1984 to 1991. The early tracks from the best-of not only trace O'Neal's vocal and stylistic evolution, but also the sound of his chief producers and former Time bandmates Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The bittersweet and melodic "A Broken Heart Can Mend" and "If You Were Here Tonight" still remain as fresh and singular as they were when they hit the radio in the mid-'80s. The songs from O'Neal's sophomore album, 1987's Hearsay, are only a cut below. This set includes the killer Time-like romp "Fake" and the trademark meditative ballads "Sunshine" and "Crying Overtime." For most Alexander O'Neal fans, his name can't be spoken without thinking of his frequent song partner Cherelle. This set also includes their duet "Never Knew Love Like This" that displays their always sexy and wholly believable chemistry. 1991's boast fest "All True Man" is also here. On the surface, this seems to be the best, but this overview leaves off the beautiful O'Neal/Cherelle classic "Saturday Love." Sure, it never appeared on an O'Neal title, but it sums him up better than the lengthy "Innocent/Alex 9000/Innocent II" does. Although this does have material from only three albums, some fans just may think that this is the best O'Neal album covering the '80s and early '90s.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Elias