1 Tony Toni Tone, Sons of Soul (Wing/Mercury). This trio may hail from Southern California, but their homage-packed soul songs prove they left their hearts in Motown. The Tonyies, who are all in their 20s, evoke past greats such as the Jackson Five with vibrant vocals and melodies, but they never settle for mere imitation. Radio is rotten with musical hacks who fake the funk with computer- generated beats, but the Tonyies are a real band, with real instruments, who have succeeded in bringing the art of R.-and-B. songwriting back to the future.

2 Billy Joel River of Dreams (Columbia). The...

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