|Studio album by Tony! Toni! Toné!|
|Released||May 8, 1990|
|Recorded||Various recording studios in California|
|Genre||New jack swing, R&B, funk, soul|
|Producer||Tony! Toni! Toné!, Foster & McElroy|
|Tony! Toni! Toné! chronology|
|Singles from The Revival|
The Revival is the second studio album by American R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné!, released on May 8, 1990, by Wing Records. It is the follow-up to their modestly successful debut album Who? (1988). The album was produced and arranged primarily by Tony! Toni! Toné!, with additional production by Foster & McElroy, who previously produced Who?. The group recorded The Revival at several studios in California and used a Synclavier music workstation.
A new jack swing album, The Revival features R&B music that draws on funk and older soul influences. Its songs incorporate eccentric sounds and stylistic elements from jazz and hip hop, including improvisational sounds, conversational vocals, and digital samples. The group's lyrics exhibit contemporary hip hop attitudes and traditional soul themes, with songs about unruly women, low-key ballads, and more danceable tracks.
Upon its release, The Revival was well received by music critics, who praised the group's songwriting and appropriation of older sounds with contemporary R&B. It charted for 64 weeks and peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums. The album was promoted with four singles, including the top 40-hit "It Never Rains (In Southern California)" and the gold-certified "Feels Good". The Revival was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and, according to Nielsen SoundScan, had sold two million copies by 1992.
The Revival is the follow-up to Tony! Toni! Toné!'s 1988 debut album Who?, which was a modest success for the group and acquainted them with production and songwriting team Foster & McElroy. Originally friends from Oakland, the group moved to Sacramento after finishing Who? with Foster & McElroy and began to record The Revival.
Recording sessions for the album took place at several studios in California—The Plant in San Francisco, Eve-Jims Studio and Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, Can-Am Studio in Tarzana, Live Oak Studio in Berkeley, and J-Jam Studio in Oakland. Tony! Toni! Toné! primarily produced and arranged The Revival, with additional production by Foster & McElroy. The group also worked with engineers Toby Wright and Gerry Brown, musician Keith Crouch, and singer Vanessa Williams, who sang on the song "Oakland Stroke". They recorded the album by using a Synclavier music workstation.
Music and lyrics
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A new jack swing record, The Revival features R&B music with elements from hip hop, funk, jazz, and pop styles. Musically and lyrically, it fuses older soul influences and contemporary hip hop attitudes, along with the latter genre's use of samples and digital rhythm tracks. Funk songs such as "The Blues", "Oakland Stroke", "Let's Have a Good Time", and "Feels Good" incorporate digital production technology. Janine McAdams of Spin finds most of the songs to be "embellished with an allusion, an imitation or an out-and-out sample", and writes that the group draws on "various musical influences—Parliament, Duke Ellington, Pointer Sisters, James Brown, among others." "Let's Have a Good Time" samples the Pointer Sisters' 1973 song "Yes We Can Can", and "Oakland Stroke", a paean to the group's hometown, has "Jungle Boogie"-like horn riffs. The "sardonic" song veers stylistically from hip hop to swing, incorporating a 1940s jazz break.
According to McAdams, Tony! Toni! Toné!'s songwriting on The Revival eschewed "social commentary or political posturing" in favor of "the preservation of R&B's signature, the perpetuation of the soul tradition, and—on the lighter side—the glorification of barbeque, the boogaloo and the booty on a Saturday night." Described by the group as "Baptist shout music that makes you wanna dance", "Feels Good" incorporates a popular sample from James Brown's 1970 song "Funky Drummer" and gospel musical themes. "Don't Talk About Me" is a warning to a mouthy woman, while "The Blues" features the narrator's spiteful complaints about an ungrateful girlfriend. The latter song features aggressive bass, a funky break, doo-wop verses, a blues riff that the group's guitarist D'wayne Wiggins learned from his father, and ideas from pianist Vince Guaraldi's music for Peanuts television specials.
The album's songs also feature offbeat sounds, improvisational elements, and conversational vocals derived from rap. The Revival begins with a directive from a grave voice: "Play this record as frequently as possible, Then, as it becomes easier for you, play the record once a day, or as needed." The album also features dialogue between an old lady who asks the group whether it will be like their last album, on which she was also featured; they respond to her question "No, ma'am". "All the Way" has a scrambling beat, whistle sounds, and the rhythmic call and response "What are we, what are we, what are we? ... Just a bunch of brothers having a party". The end of "Feels Good" features witty jazz keyboard playing behind a lively voice saying "it feels good ... in the hands, feet, bones, heart, and soul". Ed Hogan of Allmusic writes that "the last part sounds like a Sunday morning testimonial."
After the first five songs, The Revival features songs at a calmer tempo and more conventional style, with ballads that are more relaxed and low-key. "It Never Rains (In Southern California)" was titled after an oft-repeated phrase from one of Tony! Toni! Toné!'s attorneys, who used it in response to the group wearing heavy coats after returning from visits on the East Coast. Group drummer Timothy Christian played most of the song's instruments, and bassist Raphael Wiggins wrote its lyrics about a man longing for a woman who was in southern California. The ballads are followed by "Those Were the Days", which features jouncing banjo, trumpet, and wistful lyrics reminiscing about simpler times "when a dollar was worth a dollar, and you didn't have to carry a gun when you left your house."
Release and reception
|Christgau's Consumer Guide|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Released on May 8, 1990, by Wing Records, The Revival charted for 64 weeks on the Billboard Top Pop Albums, peaking at number 34 on the chart. The album's second single "Feels Good" was released on June 19 and certified gold on November 13 after it had shipped 500,000 copies. The single topped the R&B chart for two weeks and reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1990, going on to sell over one million copies. In late 1990, the album's fourth single "It Never Rains (In Southern California)" became a number-one R&B hit and also peaked at number 34 on the Hot 100. On January 28, 1991, The Revival was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of one million copies in the United States. By 1992, it had sold two million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which began tracking sales data in 1991.
The Revival was well received by contemporary critics. In the Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot wrote that its "lull" adult contemporary ballads were redeemed by songs with "Sly Stone, Ray Charles, doo-wop and Motown influences ... Add a dash of loopy humor and you have a terrific '60s-meets-the-'90s recipe". Greg Sandow from Entertainment Weekly commended the group for "building momentum by adding new elements as the songs proceed" and "setting the course for whatever future the [R&B] genre is likely to have". Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times said although their "offbeat R&B hybrids" are occasionally "too busy and intentionally oddball", "the Tonys' explorations ... are mostly successful". Orlando Sentinel writer Parry Gettelman said the dance-oriented tracks "have great grooves and a warmth, humor and vocal finesse sadly lacking in the Top 40". Janine McAdams from Spin said they "transformed the simplest ditties into jammin' anthems that assault the ear and move the feet", while writing of the record's significance:
|“||Revival works as evidence of the wide-ranging continuum of R&B, the ability of sterling soul to remain fresh for the new generation. The Tonyies pull off the feat without obscuring their unique voice. Maybe some will be jolted by their barrage of remember-when musical references on Revival, but to the youthful crowd it's aimed at, much of this is brand-new.||”|
According to Yahoo! Music's Scott Wilson, The Revival was Tony! Toni! Toné!'s "breakthrough" because of how its series of hit singles and the group's exceptional songwriting and production "assured them their place in the musical hierarchy". AllMusic editor Alex Henderson said the group "managed to appeal to urban contemporary audiences while expressing a love of 1970s soul and funk" with artistic merit and distinction from the largely unambitious R&B records released in 1990. In the opinion of Jason Heller from The A.V. Club, The Revival was the "masterpiece" of new jack swing, "an artistic triumph in a genre that generally coasted on impeccable craft". Sam Chennault from Rhapsody felt in spite of its new jack swing hit "Feels Good", most of the album embraced "Bay Area funk and hinted at the subsequent innovations of key member Raphael Saadiq". Robert Christgau was somewhat less enthusiastic and gave it a two-star honorable mention, indicating a "likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy". He singled out "Feels Good" and "Oakland Stroke" as highlights and quipped, "who says a love band can't play funk music?".
|1.||"Feels Good"||Tim Christian, Carl Wheeler, Dwayne Wiggins, Ray Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:56|
|2.||"All the Way"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:26|
|3.||"Oakland Stroke" (featuring Vanessa Williams)||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:39|
|4.||"The Blues"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:10|
|5.||"Let's Have a Good Time"||Denzil Foster, Thomas McElroy||Foster & McElroy||4:01|
|6.||"It Never Rains (In Southern California)"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||5:00|
|7.||"Whatever You Want"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:48|
|8.||"I Care"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||5:55|
|9.||"Sky's the Limit"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:35|
|10.||"All My Love"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||5:58|
|11.||"Don't Talk About Me"||Foster, McElroy, Susan Verdejo||Foster & McElroy||4:14|
|12.||"Skin Tight"||Foster, McElroy||Foster & McElroy||3:59|
|13.||"Jo-Jo"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:12|
|14.||"Those Were the Days"||Christian, Wheeler, D. Wiggins, R. Wiggins||Tony! Toni! Toné!||4:58|
|US Billboard Top Pop Albums||34|
|US Billboard Top Black Albums||4|
|1990||"The Blues"||US Billboard Hot 100||46|
|US Billboard Hot Black Singles||1|
|US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play||43|
|"Oakland Stroke"||UK Singles Chart||50|
|"Feels Good"||US Billboard Hot 100||9|
|US Billboard Hot Black Singles||1|
|"It Never Rains (In Southern California)"||US Billboard Hot R&B Singles||1|
|1991||UK Singles Chart||69|
|US Billboard Hot 100||34|
|"Whatever You Want"||US Billboard Hot 100||48|
|US Billboard Hot R&B Singles||1|
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