Today’s Pop Rescue from a fate uncertain, is the 1993 album Love Makes No Sense by American R&B and soul singer, Alexander O’Neal. Will this album be an Aphrodisiac, or will it make little sense at all? Read on…
This 11 track CD bursts opens with the samples, scratching, and R&B beats of second single In The Middle. The track gets straight into it though, and Alexander’s vocal range sounds great here pitched against Cherrelle‘s backing vocals, and the resulting sound is one that is up-beat and fresh, and will soon have you singing along in the chorus. Sadly though, the track stalled at #32 in the UK’s single charts.
Funky record scratches, brass riffs, and rapped vocals from Prof T open next track If U Let It. The shuffling soft beat fits perfectly alongside the heartfelt soulful vocals from Alexander. It seems to effortlessly glide along. You could easily imagine this on the Janet Jackson 1993 album Janet, so it comes as no surprise that this track includes long-term collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on the executive producer role.
Next up is the slower horn-fest, Aphrodisia. This has a simple beat and bass, as layers of vocals help to showcase Alex’s smooth loved up voice. Again Jimmy and Terry are on producer credits, and Prof T is lurking in the backing vocals. It’s a really warm and gentle song – almost dreamlike with lyrics about stars. It’s a nice enough song.
Lead single and titular track Love Makes No Sense follows this, opening with a flittering flute over a soft synth pad sequence before piano drops in. Alexander reminds us that the ‘only thing you can rely on’ is love. Muscially, this reminds me somewhat of Eternal, who were just starting their career in ’93, and a bit like George Michael. This album version is 1s shy of 7 minutes long, and the track received an edit when it was released as a single – giving Alexander a moderate UK hit, reaching #26.
Synth strings swirl for the plodding ballad Home Is Where The Heart Is. I can almost imagine the songwriters’ homes having those “Live, Laugh, Love” reminders on their walls, for those who forget. The songwriters are present in the production too, which results in a song that really could be any artists, and on this occasion Alexander turned up in the studio. The track is dull, and not really well suited to his voice.
Change Of Heart follows this, and there’s a change of tempo – up ever-so slightly. The track is written and produced by the same people as the previous song, but thankfully it feels a bit more alive. The song plods along easily, and Alexander does get to throw his vocal range around a fair amount, but the track is still limited in its journey.
That’s followed by Lady, which gives us a nice heavy bass, sat alongside a soft simple beat, and some wonderfully warm backing vocals from Jamecia Bennett. It’s a simple song, but it’s a relaxed track, with the bass leading you through with those loved up vocals. Again it’s a nice song, but we’re beginning to get stuck in a style.
Guitars drop us into All That Matters To Me, which is a wonderfully refreshing upbeat song. This sounds very different to earlier songs, and builds well (piano and cello soon join in). We’re treated to an almost gospel chorus, and this bright uplifting sound really acts as a shot of energy. Alexander sounds great here, and as if renewed. Sadly, the song failed to appeal to UK listeners, and it got stuck at #67.
We’re treated to a track that sounds like a funky old Motown Records hit, Since I’ve Been Lovin’ You, which stood as a single. The track is actually a modern one, co-written by Michael Bolton, and it really sounds wonderful, think with a borrowed vintage style.
Next up is a cover of Marvin Gaye and Tammy Tyrelle’s 1967 hit Your Precious Love in which Alexander sings with regular collaborator Cherrelle, whose vocals provide a wonderfully higher and more delicate sound when heard alongside his warm and soulful tones. Of Motown songs, this one is not particularly the most catchy, but the pair perform it with great warmth and ease.
Piano and strings leads us into the album’s closing track – another cover, this time Louis Armstrong’s 1967 hit What A Wonderful World. Whilst musically the track is wonderful, and certainly plays faithfully to the original version, the odd thing is Alexander basically performing it as Louis. At times this works exceptionally well, but at times it feels like an impression and that jars a little. It’s clearly done with greatest respect and love for Louis’ performances, but Alexander doesn’t need to mimic, I’m sure he could have carried off a unique version. The piano and brooding strings are a joy to hear, set alongside the double bass and beautiful backing vocals, resulting in a lovely jazzy ending to this R&B album.
Over all, this album is a pretty consistent sounding well produced album, in which Alexander O’Neal gets to show off his unique voice.
There are some great moments, with In The Middle, If U Let It, All That Matters To Me, Since I’ve Been Lovin’ You standing out. Alex’s version of What A Wonderful World really shines too, even if it is a little too close to the Armstrong original.
The album suffers a little from an over-trodden genre though, with tracks like Home Is Where The Heart Is being a 6m 16s plod to nowhere, and then followed by Change Of Heart and Lady, that are almost more of the same.
The album does echo the brilliance heard in his 1987 Hearsay album (and subsequent remix album), and the up-beat tracks are a refreshing burst of energy. However, a few more of these are needed.
- POP RESCUE 2022 REVIEW RATING: 3 / 5
- 1993 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #14
- POP RESCUE COST: £2.19 from an eBay seller.
Based on all of the Alexander O’Neal albums we have reviewed so far, we are able to calculate his average album score as 3.67 out of 5.