Minneapolis-based soul singer Alexander O’Neal burst onto the scene in 1985 with a self-titled debut that would make him a household name. However, as die-hard music fans know, O’Neal was supposed to make his debut earlier.
According to Jimmy Jam, In 1980/1981, O’Neal (along with fellow members of the band Flyte Tyme) met with Prince and Morris Day at Perkins restaurant in Minneapolis to discuss forming a band that would be called The Time that would be signing to Prince under the Warner Bros. label. After a disagreement with Prince, O’Neal was no longer the lead singer and was replaced by Morris Day.
Fate had other plans for O’Neal, and on March 8th, 1985, music fans were treated to Alexander’s smooth vocals set to the Minneapolis sound. “Innocent” was the first single released in support of the project. O’Neal linked up with this friend’s Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for a club-ready track that could easily fit on an album by The Time.
Cherrelle performed the song’s distinctive backing vocals. The song’s time was edited for release as a single, with the album version being a medley consisting of “Innocent”/”Alex 9000″/”Innocent II,” and was just over six minutes long. However, the second single, “If You Were Here Tonight,” takes the cake for me.
If you’ve read my previous writing, you know that I was a DJ while I lived in Europe. I learned the power of this song while Djing at a Pub one night, and the crowd went crazy. The song had the writing talents and production skills of Monte Moir, who graced O’Neal with a ballad about lost love that still holds up today. Moir also provides O’Neal with two strong albums in the ballads “Do You Wanna Like I Do” and “Look at Us Now.”
“A Broken Heart Can Mend” was the album’s third single where O’Neal reunited with Jam & Lewis for a mellow groove. The hits kept on coming with another Jam & Lewis single in the form of “What’s Missing” and “You Were Meant to Be My Lady (Not My Girl), which serves as the last two singles.
O’Neal would have other hits songs throughout the eighties. However, there is denying that his debut is the singer at his best. With only seven songs, O’Neal solidified the adage less is more.
Final Grade: A
Alexander O’Neal is available on all streaming platforms.