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Alexander O'Neal Alex Loves Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

One to avoid like a cold sore on Valentine’s Day.

Morag Reavley 2008

Alex Loves… is O’Neal’s first studio album in over five years, though he doesn’t look a day older than he did in the 1980s. And this collection also sounds strangely like it was made in 1985 – synthetic as a pair of leg warmers, syrupy as a tin of condensed milk, schlocky as ‘ET’, it features plodding bass, a legion of backing singers and what sounds like a Casio keyboard in overdrive.

Released just in time for Valentine’s Day, this disc is aimed at those couples – if they exist anywhere apart from in the heads of record company marketing executives – whose idea of romance is sitting on the sofa listening to ‘classic love’ songs from the most hackneyed end of pop’s romantic repertoire.

The best bits are where O’Neal reprises some of his 80s hits. Saturday Love from 1986, this time round with Bianca Lindgren and If You Were Here Tonight aren’t bad. Slick and sassy, they have his own distinctive stamp and his duet with Mica Paris on Atlantic Starr’s Secret Lovers is acceptable, though the lyrics, and their not wanting to disrupt their ‘happy homes’, still jar as much as they did in the original.

Elsewhere O'Neal seems to be auditioning for Stars in Their Eyes, with a bunch of covers from the 60s to the 90s that stretch his range beyond breaking point. When a Man Loves a Woman apes Percy Sledge’s iconic original down to the Hammond organ, while O'Neal struggles to capture Barry White’s low notes on You’re the First, the Last, My Everything. They’re overdone in a way which would shame a wedding singer.

One to avoid like a cold sore on Valentine’s Day.

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