R&B groups in 1993 were all the rage when singing quintet Hi-Five released its third album, Faithful on October 26th, 1993. The group was enjoying the successes of the song “Unconditional Love” which initially appeared on the soundtrack of the summer hit Menace II Society. Written by Larry Campbell, with production by Art & Rhythm, the song stayed true to the group’s roots while pushing towards a more mature sound. In addition to the smooth vocal by Tony, group member Treston Irby performs a speech in the track evoking seventies soul classics.
The album’s second and most successful single “Never Should’ve Let You Go” had the distinction of being featured on the soundtrack to Sister Act 2. The group also reunited with producer and songwriter Eric Foster White, who had also contributed songs to the group’s first and second albums. In fact, White was the writer behind the group’s second number one single “I Can’t Wait Another Minute”. Their chemistry with White was great, as the writer learned early on how to get the best vocal performances from the group.
The ballad “Faithful” was the album’s third single and is still a personal favorite. Written by Arnold Hennings, the song talks about the struggles of being in a profession where you have to be away from your significant other. Once again, Thompson’s vocals carry this song to another level. “What Can I Say to You (To Justify My Love)”, featuring girl group Nuttin’Nyce, was the album’s final single and found the group breaking away from ballad territory. This happens to be one of the songs I never cared for and the song hasn’t aged well.
The rest of the songs on the eight track album are a mix of up-tempo numbers and slow cuts, some better than others. “Miss U Girl” was a great up-tempo track that sampled James Brown’s “Blind Man Can See It” and I can imagine DJ Clark Kent doing a killer remix to this one. The only other up-tempo number on the song was “I’m in Need”, which I feel would’ve been a better single than “What Can I Say to You (To Justify My Love)”.
Now given that I’m more partial to ballads and slow jams, I almost wanted Hi-Five to make an album full of ballads for the third one. In addition to the singles released, there are some slow gems on here as well. Larry Campbell contributes the Jodeci-esque “Ready 4 U 2 Love” featuring D-Nice. While “As One” is a great wedding ballad, and the group pulls it off with ease like singers twice Thompson’s age would sing.
Due to the group wanting to leave its label Jive records for Giant records, JIVE retaliated by under promoting Faithful. Before tragically passing away in 2007, Tony Thompson would go on to release a highly underrated solo album, Sexsational in 1995 and start his own label N-Depth Entertainment, which released the fourth Hi-Five album, The Return in 2005.
Prior to the COVID pandemic, Hi-Five was still touring and actively releasing music. Now comprised with front man Treston Irby along with members Marcus Sanders, Shannon Gill, Faruq Evans and Billy Covington, Hi-Five continues to keep its legacy alive as well as maintaining the memory of Tony Thompson. If you’ve never heard Faithful, check it out on all streaming platforms as well as an interview I conducted with the group earlier this year.
Final Relisten Grade: B+
Best Songs: “Unconditional Love”, “Never Should’ve Let You Go, “Faithful, “Ready 4 U 2 Love and “As One”
Watch the Interview