Picks and Pans Review: Joe Public
Technology dominates black music so thoroughly in the hip-hop era that a group such as Joe Public, which plays instruments, seems like a novelty act. Even so, the quartet proves on its jejune if jumping debut release that it's the funkiest Buffalo, New York-area product since Rick James.
Because their music has an organic base doesn't mean it isn't modern. Check out "Live and Learn" with its whomping, New Jack beat, sunny rapped-and-sung melody and a Steely Dan—like refrain. These guys program a drum machine with the best of them. (Listen to the dance imperatives of "I Gotta Thang" and "I Like It.")
The four Publics—guitarist J.R. (Joseph Sayles), bassist Kev (Kevin Scott), keyboardist Jake (Joe Carter) and drummer Dew (Dwight Wyatt)—all write (they composed Keith Sweat's hit "Keep It Comin' ") with a range of moods, from mincing funk ("I've Been Watchin' ") to ballads ("I Miss You"). The group's sound is still unseasoned. Even that may be to their advantage, though. Look at the success on the R&B charts of such callow little shavers as Tevin Campbell, Another Bad Creation and Boyz II Men. Youth is being served. (Columbia)