The Oakland, California group, Tony! Toni! Toné!, released their second album, "The Revival" in 1990. The R&B group dropped this album right in the middle of the New Jack Swing era of the genre, and so this is much of what you get from the band as well as a little Soul from them as you have Raphael Saadiq lead on the vocals with his brother D'Wayne Wiggins and cousin Timothy Christian Riley (in addition to many other people with instrumentals).
1. "Feels Good"
To get this album underway, you have a track which has the band getting down with their first chart-topping single. It has them work with Mopreme Shakur (stepbrother to 2Pac) in a banger of a jam which has them throw down some heavy, feel-good New Jack Swing to the listeners. It is just the right way to begin things as you hear that they choose to excite listeners on Breakbeats to show that they are amongst the best in this R&B/Hip Hop fusion.
2. "All The Way"
The high quality of the music persists through this song as you find that they perform an exciting one where they do more of the energetic New Jack Swing stuff and, of course, this means that it lifts the mood of the listener, and allows them to make you get on their level as they do something quite simplistic, but well-executed.
3. "Oakland Stroke"
It just doesn't stop here as they are relentless with the funky, Hip Hop-inspired work, and I would say that this is the track which has it put to best use as they go for a dance number. It is a freaky jam from them and has them basing it mainly around rapping, and having singing reserved for the chorus. They recycle Kool & The Gang's "Jungle Boogie" brass wind and do so by replaying it to hype up the listeners by taking them back.
4. "The Blues"
The title for me indicated that we were in for a big change in the tempo, however this simply was not the case as you have them continue to do more of the exciting stuff, as they do more general club R&B (non-New Jack Swing styled) and I felt that it was executed in a manner which you just couldn't complain about, especially when you consider how much of an impact you feel from the higher end of Saadiq's vocals.
5. "Let's Have A Good Time"
Chosen as the final track to represent the album, this was the fourth single off the album and in it you see that they experiment with the expectations of New Jack Swing and what needs to be done with it as they choose to use its essential elements, but choose to do something out-of-the-ordinary by making it a little slower, and I would say it was effective in spite of this fairly significant change to expectations.
6. "It Never Rains in Southern California"
This song is one of their most well-known ones, and it finds them bringing the pace right down as they sing about having fun in the southern Cali climate. It is a laid-back jam from them, and reflects the way that the entire West Coast music scene was going in for the time. It really stands out, and shows them at the top of their game.
7. "Whatever You Want"
This was a good choice to come off the last one, as it finds that they go for a song which puts they softer material into effect as in this case you have a song which has them mess around with their arrangement as they choose an alternative choice in the lead for this one as a change, and opt for some Soul here as they try out something resembling Zapp's "Computer Love" to a degree.
8. "I Care"
On this one you have a song which finds that they go for a little slow jam, and it finds that Raphael Saadiq really puts his talent for singing into action by showing just how well he can perform this sort of thing as he makes the best of his vocals and belts it out as he sings emotively about a girls who he has recently got to know.
9. "Sky's The Limit"
It seems that they are right back to the Swing tunes as here they opt for something more exciting again and straight to some more of their New Jack Swing material. Just as is found at other points, you have them create contrast in the material and within the song itself by having vocals which contrast from what is expected based upon the beats it has been given.
10. "All My Love"
Here you see that they stick to the conventions by singing one which has all of its elements focused right it to form something which makes sense, and doesn't come out with any sort of sharp contrasts, and I felt that it was much easily to engage with as a result. However, they still find room for great originality as they input some original instruments to use when making the Swingbeats as they express just how their love makes them feel.
11. "Don't Talk About Me"
I saw this as a very clever song from them as it finds that they perform one which to someone not really taking in the lyrics, would some like a feel-good tune, but in fact it has Raphael Saadiq singing in a pretty bitter manner as he sings about how annoyed he is about how he always put down whenever his ex discusses their relationship together.
12. "Skin Tight"
Although I have to say that much of what is done here is very straight-forward and simplistic, it really gets the job done as you see that they come together to get on more of the freaky, up-tempo beats to do a track in order to talk about exactly what girls they are into and especially what they like to see the girls wearing. They attempt some new age Doo-Wop in a style adopted a little later from Boyz II Men, and it makes for something strong.
As we get towards the end of the album, you have them doing more of the same sort of Swingbeat work as what you get in many other parts of the album, and I would have to say that it was done very well. In this case, you see that the production to it is rather similar to the type of thing that Bobby Brown used then, and as he was considered to be amongst the best at New Jack Swing, you would expect it to be well-received by listeners, as I did.
14. "Those Were The Days"
To finish the release you find that the band go for a track which has them go for a song which is really good for anyone to get down with. It has them doing some freaky things with it as you see that they experiment with the instruments even more as they bring out more of the exciting production and top it off with some heavy melodies.
Tony! Toni! Toné!'s second album has them throw down some of the most exciting work which they ever produce. If you like any of their material (especially their third record "Sons of Souls") this one will certainly be something to look out for. It is a varied one and so you see that they bring in as many influences as possible in it. This is an album often overlooked in the period, and so I would have to say that it stands as something to compete with top joints from Guy, Bell Biv DeVoe, Bobby Brown and Jodeci around this time.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Feels Good
2 All The Way
3 Oakland Stroke
5 Let's Have A Good Time
6 It Never Rains (In Southern California)
7 Whatever You Want
8 I Care
9 Sky's The Limit
10 All My Love
11 Don't Talk About Me
12 Skin Tight
14 Those Were The Days