Picks and Pans Review: Private Times...and the Whole 9!

updated 12/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Al B. Sure!

Okay, so it looks like—is—another one of those silly, self-important affectations. Al B. Sure! likes to use exclamation points the way Prince insists on using "2" for "to" and "U" for "you." But if Al didn't throw the punctuation in there, anyone who heard his 1988 debut or this follow-up would do it for him. This is classy soul music to get your blood racing and make you exclaim.

Al's voice is a lethal weapon. Whether he's growling the intro to "Touch You," cooing in a sexy falsetto on "Just for the Moment" or barking funk in "Misunderstanding," he's in command. It's almost like having Barry White, Michael Jackson and James Brown living in one body. Such a deal.

The first side of the record (the first half, CD buyers) is the make-out side; slow and silky, including a steamy duet with Diana Ross on "No Matter What You Do," this stuff is pure aural aphrodisia. Sure! even takes an ultimate white-bread tune, the Eagles' "Hotel California," and turns it into between-the-sheets music.

The second side (half) is the sweaty stuff, mass groove action that still maintains a sense of elegance. It's dance music for the Armani-suit crowd. The best of the lot, "Misunderstanding," crackles along in the now familiar jack-swing style. Whether the tune is fast or slow, soft or hard, Al B. Sure! is one of the smoothest soul singers around. Period. (Warner Bros.)

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