Although they had a number of R&B hits during the late '80s, Surface didn't cross over into the pop mainstream in any notable way. They scraped the bottom reaches of the charts a few times, but they never had a breakout hit that would establish them as stars. Listening to Columbia/Legacy's definitive retrospective The First Time: The Best of Surface, it's possible to hear why they didn't break out -- they simply didn't have a song that would break them big. That doesn't mean that they were a bad group, since they were very competent within their genre and several hits here are very pleasant late-'80s urban cuts, either on the ballad or dance side. But there's nothing particularly striking, nothing with a hook that would send the band soaring up the pop charts. Still, if you happen to be a fan, either of the group or of this sound, this is a pleasing listen, and a very representative overview of what Surface achieved.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine