Hearsay (album)

Hearsay is the second solo studio album by American recording artist Alexander O'Neal. It was originally released in July 1987, on the labels Tabu and Epic as the follow-up to O'Neal's critically and commercially successful 1985 album Alexander O'Neal. Hearsay explores similar genres to those of Alexander O'Neal including pop, R&B, soul, post-disco, funk, and adult contemporary music, while also incorporating a newer genre, new jack swing. The songs were recorded from 1986 to 1987 in sessions that took place at Flyte Time Productions, Inc. Studio A & B in Minneapolis, Minnesota, assisted by R&B songwriting and record production team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It features contributions from guest musicians, including Cherrelle, David Eiland, and Lisa Keith, and is generally regarded as the culmination of the smoother, more adult-oriented sound of O'Neal's early work.

Hearsay (album).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 29, 1987
StudioFlyte Time Productions, Inc. Studio A & B, Minneapolis, Minnesota
LabelTabu (Worldwide)
Epic (Greece)
Alexander O'Neal chronology
Alexander O'Neal
All Mixed Up
Singles from Hearsay
  1. "Fake"
    Released: May 5, 1987
  2. "Criticize"
    Released: September 22, 1987
  3. "Never Knew Love Like This"
    Released: January 5, 1988
  4. "The Lovers"
    Released: May 3, 1988
  5. "(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me"
    Released: February 2, 1989
  6. "Hearsay"
    Released: March 7, 1989
  7. "Crying Overtime"
    Released: April 4, 1989
  8. "Sunshine and Rain"
    Released: August 1, 1989
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Robert ChristgauB+ [3]
BBC iPlayer(positive)[4]

On release, the album was received favourably by the majority of music critics. O'Neal's most commercially successful solo album, in the United States it went on to peak at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and number two on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.[5] The album was even more successful in the United Kingdom, peaking at number four and producing seven charting singles, including five top 40 hits. "Fake" peaked at number 33 on the UK Singles Chart; "Criticize" peaked at number four; "Never Knew Love Like This" at number 26; "The Lovers" at number 28; "(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me" at number 27; "Sunshine" at number 72.[6] Several remixes of the album's songs also charted: "Fake '88", (No. 16); "Hearsay '89", (No. 56).[6] Two of the tracks, "Fake" and "Criticize", were also popular anthems in UK dance clubs.[7] The album went on to be certified gold by the RIAA on October 20, 1987.[8] In the UK, it sold more than 900,000 copies, being certified 3× Platinum by the BPI.[7]

The album was re-released on 6 May 2013 on Tabu's new Re-born imprint featuring rare bonus content. The reissue is a 2-CD set with the original album digitally remastered from the original 1/2" mix tapes; the bonus content consists of associated 7" and 12" mixes.


Hearsay has the overtones of a concept album,[4] being loosely set around the attendees of a house party being hosted by O'Neal. Over the course of the album, the themes that are played out include O'Neal's advances towards a particular woman in the room ("What Can I Say To Make You Love Me"), as well as his observations on other attendees of the party – for instance a courting couple ("The Lovers"), a spiteful gossip-monger ("Hearsay"), a loudmouth – implied to be a groupie ("Fake"), and a nagging ex-lover ("Criticize"), unrequited admiration ("Crying Overtime"), and culminating in the finale ("When the Party's Over"), where O'Neal finally persuades the woman to stay after the party is over. Interspersed between the tracks are "interludes" consisting of general background noise and conversation between the partygoers which sets up the theme of the next song.

Critical receptionEdit

Hearsay was well received by most critics, and was hailed as a major breakthrough for O'Neal, while receiving critical recognition. In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album a B+ and commented that "Jam & Lewis are letting their love man play the nasty guy--"Fake" and "Criticize" take the offensive after "Hearsay" puts it sweetly." and also commented that "unlike Jam & Lewis's nasty girl, O'Neal has the vocal muscle (and biceps) to back his nasty up."[3]

Retrospective reviewsEdit

Today, the album is still viewed in a positive light by critics some three decades later. Ron Wynn of AllMusic gave the album four and a half out of five stars and wrote that "Jam and Lewis linked the material with "party" dialogue and patter, providing their finest and tightest production for any O'Neal record." adding that "the beats were catchy, the songs hook-laden, and O'Neal's voice alternately explosive, sensitive and bemused."[2] And Daryl Easlea of BBC iPlayer gave a positive review writing that it was "Dismissed by the cognoscenti but adored by the masses." noting that "Hearsay is very much of its time, but that doesn't mean it has dated. It sounds as fresh now as it did then. Had it been 20 years earlier, Alexander O'Neal would have been compared to Otis Redding."[4]

In popular cultureEdit

In 2008, "Criticize" appeared on Grand Theft Auto IV's fictional Soul/R&B radio station The Vibe 98.8. In 2017, "Fake" was used in Black Mirror's "San Junipero" episode, during the first scene at the night club Tucker's.

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by James Harris and Terry Lewis, except where noted.

Side one
1."Intro" 0:35
2."(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me" 4:25
3."Intro" 0:57
4."Hearsay" 4:01
5."Intro" 0:13
6."The Lovers" 4:38
7."Intro" 0:45
8."Fake" 3:56
9."Intro" 0:37
Side two
12."Never Knew Love Like This" (with Cherrelle)5:09
16."Crying Overtime"5:13
18."When the Party's Over"3:32
Total length:41:32
  • On original CD pressings, the interlude before "Crying Overtime" was included as part of "Sunshine". It was restored as its own track for the 2013 reissue.
  • A 2003 reissue resequenced the album so that all intros and interludes (except for those to "(What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me" and "Never Knew Love Like This") were made part of the track that directly followed them, yielding an 11 track album.
2013 reissue bonus disc
1."Criticize (Single Edit)"4:01
2."Criticize (Critical Mix)"5:33
3."Criticize (Critical Edit)"3:52
4."Criticize (Nag Mix)"1:37
5."Fake (Edit)"3:10
6."Fake (Patty Mix)"3:14
7."Fake (Instrumental)"4:41
8."Never Knew Love Like This (Edit)"3:30
9."Sunshine (Edit)"4:02
10."Hearsay '89"3:40
11."The Lovers (Bonus Beats)"5:00


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[9]

Additional personnel

Chart performanceEdit

Peak positionsEdit

Original release
Chart Peak
Australian Albums Chart[10] 94 4
Austrian Albums Chart[11] 22 2
Dutch Albums Chart[12] 26 12
NZ Albums Chart[13] 47 4
Norwegian Chart[14] 18 1
Swedish Albums Chart[15] 13 11
UK Albums Chart[16] 4 103
US Billboard Chart[17] 29 40
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[17] 2 ?
West German Albums Chart[18] 22 13


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[21] Gold 700,000[20]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release historyEdit

Label Cat. No. Format Date
Tabu ZK 40320 US CD, Vinyl 1987
Tabu TBU 450936 2 EU CD, Vinyl 1987
Tabu CSCS 5113 JP CD 1990
Tabu, The Right Stuff 72435-43846-2-2 EU CD 2003
Solid CDSOL-5206 JP CD 21 August 2013
Tabu TABU 2005 UK CD 6 May 2013


  1. ^ Discogs.com Retrieved January 24, 2020
  2. ^ a b Wynn, Ron. "Alexander O'Neal – Hearsay". AllMusic. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Alexander O'Neal - Hearsay". Robert Christgau. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Easley, Daryl. "Dismissed by the cognoscenti but adored by the masses". BBC iPlayer Music. BBC. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  5. ^ Hearsay Chart & awards at AllMusic
  6. ^ a b Roberts, David (2002). Guinness World Records British Hit Singles (15th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Ltd. ISBN 0-85112-187-X., p.360
  7. ^ a b BBC. (April 5, 2007) Alexander O'Neal bbc.co.uk Retrieved 27-01-08.
  8. ^ RIAA searchable database Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Hearsay liner notes. Tabu Records. 1987.
  10. ^ David Kent (1993). Australian Charts Book 1970—1992. Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. p. 223. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ "AUT Charts > Alexander O'Neal". Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  12. ^ "NL Charts > Alexander O'Neal". MegaCharts. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  13. ^ "NZ Charts > Alexander O'Neal". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  14. ^ "NOR Charts > Alexander O'Neal". VG-lista. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  15. ^ "SWE Charts > Alexander O'Neal". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  16. ^ "UK Charts > Alexander O'Neal". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  17. ^ a b "US Albums Charts > Alexander O'Neal". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  18. ^ "GER Charts > Alexander O'Neal". Media Control Charts. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  19. ^ "British album certifications – Alexander O'Neal – Hearsay". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 18 January 2015. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Hearsay in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  20. ^ George, Nelson (December 5, 1987). "Increased CD Sales Predicted for Black Market" (PDF). Billboard. Billboard Publications, Inc. 99 (49): 63. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  21. ^ "American album certifications – O'Neal, Alexander – Hearsay". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 18 January 2015. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External linksEdit