Coming out of Oakland, California, Tony! Toni! Toné! were a R&B group active from the late eighties to the mid-nineties. With "Who?", their debut, we find that they come out with the styles that were most prominent at the time and so we get a nice mix of New Jack Swing and Quiet Storm thrown in there as Raphael Saadiq, D'Wayne Wiggins and Timothy Christopher Riley come together amongst many others to come with something fresh in the early New Jack days.
1. "Baby Doll"
The group kick the album off as they drop this one and come to bring something energetic as we get right into the mood for this kind of thing as we get some lively New jack Swing material that gets you moving and gives you a taste of the times. I thought that you couldn't really have any problems with this kind of thing as it goes hard and forces you to have fun through the feel-good material that they push out.
2. "For The Love Of You"
The act are seen to approach things in a different way here as we see that for this one we don't get a hyped-up dance tune in New Jack style and instead we have a little something where they go for a mid-tempo piece that has them showing more of what their vocals are capable of and where it has the potential to take them. I felt that the experimental production may have held it back a little, but you can't call it a weak point on the thing.
3. "Who's Lovin' You"
Not to be confused with the Jackson Five track of the same name, here we see that we have them coming up with a tune that has them trying out more of what they're able to fit into this release by not going for the typical R&B of the times and seeing how other styles may be able to find their way into the swing of this release. I felt that this one was a little too plain and so didn't do it for me, but might for others.
4. "Born Not To Know"
Another of the act's singles (their second off the thing) we see that we have a tune that gives us a nice impression of the early stages of the New Jack Swing period. Here we have the act going off on top of some fly Swingbeat and from it they seem to make a nice little dance tune that has the ability to draw in a wide-ranging audience to just get down to the funky stuff that they lay down here.
5. "Little Walter"
This was the group's debut single and we find that in it we get a get a nice first impression about what they're about with a danceable joint that I can see quite a lot of people wanting to get down to as we have them taking on the contemporary style and showing just how effectively they're able to attack it after the likes of New Edition and others had led the way for them to come with such stuff.
This is a killer one from them and has them breaking out with the sort of sample-heavy and funky stuff that the New Jack Swing scene would be known for as it grew and developed as more acts gravitated towards it. I saw it as a killer on the thing and one that really stands out as one of the best and so I'd expect any fan of theirs to really be into this one and what they offer as it drops in the middle of this release.
Slowing it all down, here we see that we get an emotive one from the crew. I thought that it was nice to see them trying out different things and here by coming to do a tune such as this they ensure that they are able to show just how diverse they can be. Here we get a track that has Raphael Saadiq (then Raphael Wiggins) taking control of the vocals as he wishes the relationship he was in could have lasted.
This one sees that we get a bit of a different one as we have them coming to perform a track that has love centred-on as the main topic and from this we find that they aren't able to quite attack it in the positive way that you'd expect as there's a twist to what's going on within the relationship and it effects whether it may be able to continue. The tale is nice and it makes you engage with the thing from the start.
9. "Not Gonna Cry For You"
The album ends on this one as they bring things right down and go for a ballad. Shifting things over to Quiet Storm style, I have to say that this isn't quite where I thought that the act made for the best material and so it wasn't really as much my thing as others on the release have been seen to be, however I could still feel it and I thought that it was a relevant way to draw the thing to a close.
I have to say that I enjoyed their later releases when new jack Swing became more established and things didn't sound so experimental, however I still thought that this one had quite a lot to offer the listeners as we find that they bring a range of tunes that have them showing the listeners how they've got a good understanding of what they're able to achieve as an R&B act with few limitations to what they'd want to go into.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Baby Doll
2 For The Love Of You
3 Who's Lovin' You
4 Born Not To Know
5 Little Walter
6 Love Struck
9 Not Gonna Cry For You