One of the more distinctive R&B groups of the late '80s and early '90s, Tony! Toni! Toné!
managed to appeal to urban contemporary audiences while expressing a love of 1970s soul and funk. As high-tech as things get on its sophomore effort, The Revival
, the Oakland trio never fails to sound organic and soulful. Funk smokers like "The Blues," "Oakland Stroke," "Let's Have a Good Time," and "Feels Good" (a major hit) may use technology extensively, but the soulsters always sound like they're in control of the technology (as opposed to it controlling them). Drawing on influences ranging from Digital Underground
to Sly & the Family Stone
, and Prince
clearly like their funk down and dirty. And yet, the group sounds equally inspired on such laid-back and mellow slow jams as "I Care" and the hit "It Never Rains in Southern California." Many of the urban contemporary releases of 1990 were gutless and homogenized, but The Revival
is an album that had artistic integrity as well as commercial appeal.