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MARC ANTHONY THOMPSON (Buy CDs by this artist)
Marc Anthony Thompson (Warner Bros.) 1984
Watts and Paris (Reprise/Warner Bros.) 1989

On his debut LP, this hard-to-categorize maverick — born in Panama, raised in California — makes slick, soulful pop music that manages to be both subtle and edgy. Thompson gives free reign to his poised, slightly gritty voice in a variety of settings, from cool struttin' ("So Fine") to moody romance ("Love Cools Down") to after-hours elegance ("Coffee").

Five years later, Watts and Paris sports a nastier, more percussive edge, with in-your-face singing and dense, oddball arrangements obviously inspired by Prince. Don't miss the murky "Monkeytime," a startling attack on Paul Simon ("I taped the black man so let me be/South Africa been so good to me"), the hard funk of "In Time" and the screaming "I Never Promised." Tough and compelling, Thompson is a widely undiscovered talent on a major label.

[Jon Young]