Ranking the Best Joe Thomas Albums

My wife is obsessed with Power on STARZ and I’ve gotta admit, it’s become one of my guilty pleasures.

Clearly I’m not alone – did y’all SEE social media have a complete meltdown when the original theme song, sung by the mighty Joe Thomas was randomly replaced with Trey Songz?

The backlash was so great that two weeks later, Joe was back to croon about living in a Big Rich Town.

But it’s funny that Joe’s legacy is so tied to a theme song. R&B fans know he’s so much more. For more than 25 years he’s been one of the most beloved voices in R&B. So beloved, in fact, that readers have been begging me to review his discography for years.

Well wait no longer.

You know how we do – let’s look back at Joe’s run of LPs, ranking them from bottom to top. Album quality, consistency, and impact on the genre as usual are how the rankings are scored. And I’ll be skipping any Christmas albums and compilations.

Legal or illegal, baby, Joe’s gotta make it…

my name is joe thomas

12. My Name is Joe Thomas (2016)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: AKA #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS. And man, it makes my eyes hurt reading that. Rumored to be Joe’s “final” album (though we know how retirements usually work out in hip-hop and R&B) #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS is quite the mixed bag. On one hand, Joe sounds great, and hearing him branch out into other genres is cool – in theory. But on the other hand, there is so much experimentation that the album loses a lot of cohesion. It feels more like an abbreviated encore than the grand finale R&B fans may have expected.

Forgotten favorites: “No Chance,” “Wear the Night,” “Lay You Down”

joe thomas new man

11. Joe Thomas, New Man (2008)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: Well, this was an album, I guess. I don’t mean that as an insult – everything here is well-sung and solidly produced. But there’s nothing here that pushes the boundaries or dares to stand out on its own. Everything is just … OK. And OK doesn’t lend itself to being memorable.

Forgotten favorites: “By Any Means,” “Why Just Be Friends,” “Chameleon”

the good the bad and the sexy

10. The Good, The Bad, The Sexy (2011)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: You wanna throw on something to set the mood? Joe’s got you. This one is STRICTLY for the baby-makers. “Tonight?” “Slow Kisses?” “Pull My Hair?” Yeah, the theme of this one is obvious. Problem is, it feels a little too subdued in spots. When things slow down, some of the tracks start feeling a little same-ish. Not a bad release, though.

Forgotten favorites: “Losing,” “Drink Up,” “Tonight”

bridges

9. Bridges (2014)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: On paper, Bridges seems like the perfect release – strong production, flawless vocals and themes Joe’s core audience can relate to. But where the album falls short is the intangibles. It’s a little lengthy and lacks the innovation needed to break up some of the monotony. Joe sounds great, as usual, but there’s little here that forces repeat listens.

Forgotten favorites: “Blame Her Broken Heart On Me,” “Mary Jane (Remix),” “Till the Rope Gives Way”

and then

8. And Then… (2003)

Soul In Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: And Then… is arguably the last Joe album to make its mark in the mainstream, and it’s got the hits to prove it. Remember BET’s Midnight Love? They used to WEAR OUT “More and More.” But besides a couple of decent album cuts, this one is a bit uneven overall.

Forgotten favorites: “It Ain’t Like That,” “Priceless,” “Jeep”

signature

7. Signature (2009)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Ah, look at Joe in his Easter Sunday fit on this album cover. It’s rare you hear discussions about Joe’s eighth studio release but that’s not really a reflection of its quality. Joe’s all about sensuality on this one, using his pitch-perfect vocals to romance listeners. It didn’t yield any major hits but it certainly gets the job done. Signature’s a great name for this one, it’s got his stamp all over it.

Forgotten favorites: “Metaphor,” “Very Special Friend,” “Friends Don’t Let Friends”

aint nothing like me

6. Ain’t Nothing Like Me (2007)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Joe’s never been a stranger to the world of hip-hop – he’s been the hook man for some legit rap classics.  He goes all in on Ain’t Nothing Like Me, an album that samples everyone from Nas to A Tribe Called Quest. There are way more guests here than usual for the typical Joe album but never fear, he’s still the star of the show. Surprisingly, it’s the more traditional Joe records that feel a little underwhelming this time around. But it’s proof Joe has no problem being the life of the party.

Forgotten favorites: “Get to Know Me,” “Life of the Party,” “Just Relax”

everything

5. Everything (1993)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: It’s odd that you rarely hear discussions about Joe’s debut. While the LP itself didn’t do big business, Joe’s first single, “I’m in Luv” was a top 10 R&B hit and subsequent singles did fairly well too. To be fair, Joe hadn’t quite found his signature sound yet – he sounds more like Aaron Hall Lite in some spots than the Joe we’d come to love. However, Everything is brimming with potential and is a very underrated listen.

Forgotten favorites: “All or Nothing,” “It’s Alright,” “If Loving You Is Wrong”

doubleback

4. Doubleback: Evolution of R&B (2013)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Read our review here

Edd said: Usually when I make these lists, the artist’s most recent albums tend to wind up on the back end of things. It’s just the nature of the business, I guess – it’s hard to maintain consistency 20 years in. But that’s what’s so exciting about Doubleback. Two decades after his debut, Joe found that spark again, resulting in one of his best releases ever. Absolutely stellar production really makes this one soar. He proved he’s still got it.

Forgotten favorites: “Easy,” “Baby,” “More”

better days

3. Better Days (2001)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: By 2001 Joe was four albums in and still hadn’t lost a step. Better Days didn’t have the chart-topping success of its predecessors but the quality certainly was still there. In fact, the first half of the album is some of Joe’s strongest work ever. Things get a little loose about halfway through but that’s not enough to derail another great project.

Forgotten favorites: “Better Days,” “Alone,” “Lover’s Prayer”

my-name-is-joe

2. My Name is Joe (2000)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: The year 2000 saw Joe at his mainstream peak, and it’s all thanks to this triple platinum hit. Though it’s most notably home to some of his most famous songs (The “Stutter” remix was EVER-ER-REY-WHERE in 2000, and “I Wanna Know wasn’t far behind), My Name is Joe wouldn’t rank this high solely off a bunch of hot singles. It’s an extremely cohesive listen that isn’t afraid to blend both soul and hip-hop. It’s a formula he’d use many times in his career but never as effectively as here.

Forgotten favorites: “Table for Two,” “563,” “One Life Stand”

all that i am

1. All That I Am (1997)

Soul In Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Yeah I know, this was a shoe-in for No. 1. And it’s pretty easy to see why. All That I Am is the quintessential Joe album, filled with signature hits, memorable album cuts and honey-dipped vocals that have made Joe one of R&B’s stalwarts. All That I Am is one of the most cherished albums of its era and by far Joe’s best work.

Forgotten favorites: “Good Girls,” “How Soon,” “No One Else Comes Close”

How would you rank Joe’s catalog? Let us know below.

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3 Comments

  1. Remarkably (and equally) underrated & under appreciated. Almost every Joe album’s an A.

  2. Michael Fountain June 17, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I have everyone of these and have been to two concerts and he even sounds better in person . Most artist sound one way on cd but are milli valli in person lol. I pray that he releases one more album for his swan song . They don’t make them like joe, Gerald Levert , Wayman Tisdale , Anita Baker anymore .

  3. Joe is easily my top favorite singer. I play his 11 albums on a daily basis. He is so talented and his voice is so soothing and smooth. He’s authentic, unlike many artist today. Even acapella he sounds smooth like butter. I honestly hopes that he decides to put out new music!!!!

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