Ken Tucker
March 06, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Joe Public

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Joe Public

We gave it an A-

A young quartet from Buffalo, N.Y., Joe Public got its first big break writing and playing on Keith Sweat’s No. 1 R&B hit, ”Keep It Comin”’ — a song left over, the story goes, from the band’s recording sessions for this debut album. It’s obvious the group has talent to burn, for as good as the sensuously funky ”Keep It Comin”’ is, most of Joe Public bursts with its own ripe, original rhythms and melodies. This isn’t yet another group of singers-plus-session-players like Guy; this is a band, with a brisk, tight sound that combines new jack swing with harmonic soulfulness. ”Live and Learn,” the group’s first single, features a clattering of drums played by Dew (this act uses first names only) on top of Kev’s undulating bass-guitar figure, while J.R. sings a sweetly dizzy lyric about obsessive romance that typifies Joe Public’s nonmacho approach to pop-funk songwriting. True, the group has something to learn about crafting lyrics — ”you’re the cream of the crop, a real prima donna/Each and every day, I wanna lay my lips on ya” (from ”This One’s for U”) isn’t the most felicitous couplet, and it’s typical. But few first albums evince the sort of musical ease and mastery that Joe Public demonstrates on every cut. A-

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