Classics: New Edition – If It Isn’t Love (Club Mix) (MCA)
Released back in 1988, ‘If It Isn’t Love’ stood a turn in many ways in the history of New Edition. Marking the arrival of Johnny Gill after Bobby Brown had been voted out by the group. Sealing what would be a long term collaboration with producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. And last but not least, seeing them embracing a more mature sound. This while jumpin’ on the then waving Swingbeat.
With mixing work courtesy of Steve Hodge, the Club Mix of ‘If It Isn’t Love’ pretty much enhanced its original Swing feel. Somehow reminding of Levert‘s ‘Casanova’. And with something on its very first notes of Trevor Horn‘s sound treatment on Grace Jones‘ ‘Slave To The Rhythm’.
As many elements makin’ of ‘If It Isn’t Love’ one of New Edition‘s biggest classics ever. Itself belonging to an album – ‘Heart Break’ – that spanned no less than 5 hit singles. From ‘You’re Not My Kind of Girl’ and ‘Can You Stand The Rain’. To ‘Crucial’, ‘N.E. Heartbreak’ and the aforementioned…
From Boston, MA, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Bobby Brown went on to form a vocal band back in 1978. As a matter of fact, the group was a quintet, featuring two other friends by the likes of Travis Pettus and Corey Rackley. They soon after met Brooke Payne, a local manager who came up with the name New Edition. This to signify they were like a new edition of the Jackson 5. Rackley left the group though. With Ralph Tresvant takin’ the then vacant seat. And so did Pettus which Payne managed to replace. Eventually callin’ his nephew, Ronnie DeVoe.
New Edition‘s first big break occured back in 1981. This at the local Hollywood Talent Night held at Boston’s Strand Theatre by singer/producer Maurice Starr. The latter bringin’ the group to his studio the following day to record what would become their debut album, ‘Candy Girl’. An album that saw the light back in 1983 on Streetwise Records. Thus spanning classics such as ‘Is This The End’, Jealous Girl’ and ‘Popcorn Love’. This in addition to its title track which went to number one in the UK and Stateside.
Returning from their first major concert tour, New Edition parted ways with Starr for financial reasons. Then they hired the services of the law firm of Steven and Martin Machat. With the latter sueing Streetwise for release from a contract that was unenforceable. Winning the legal game, the latter secured them a recording deal with MCA. With New Edition releasing their eponymous (second) album soon after. Meanwhile comin’ up with gems such as ‘Cool It Now’ and the Ray Parker, Jr. produced ‘Mr. Telephone Man’.
Comin’ up during the second half of 1985, ‘All For Love’, their third album, didn’t quite generate the same kind of following. This to the exception of its opening cut, ‘Count Me Out’. Meanwhile, the group’s management team decided to vote Bobby Brown out because of behavior problems. With the latter starting his solo career the year after and New Edition promoting their album as a fortet.
With rumors of Tresvant leavin’ as well to go on his own, New Edition promptly voted Johnny Gill in to replace him. But they finally remained a quintet with Tresvant deciding to remain with the band in addition his aside activities.
New Edition‘s fifth album – ‘Heart Break’ – which features Gill as the co-lead vocalist, saw the light during the Summer of 1988. With production work courtesy of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, it gave the band no less than 5 hit singles. From ‘If It Isn’t Love’, ‘You’re Not My Kind of Girl’ and ‘Can You Stand The Rain’. To ‘Crucial’ and ‘N.E. Heartbreak’…
Quite inspired by Bobby Brown‘s success as a solo artist, New Edition went on hiatus to allow its members to work on their respective projects. And most likely Ralph Tresvant and Johhny Gill. Meanwhile Bell, Biv & DeVoe remained as a trio. And, after an eight years hiatus, New Edition resurfaced as a sextet (thus featuring Bobby Brown) with the 1996 ‘Home Again’ album. The latter becomin’ their most successful effort in the series. Spanning extra hits such as ‘Hit Me Off’ and ‘I’m Still In Love With You’ respectively produced by Silky and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
The live tour that followed happened to be disastrous though. With Ronnie DeVoe eventually trying to pull Brown off the stage after he unexpectedly extended his solo set. This resulting in a fight between the two and the sudden end of their concert in Las Cruces, NM. Brown and Bivins quickly left the tour, with New Edition performing as a fortet.
Another 8 years would go from then before the release of a new reunion album, although without Brown. An effort titled ‘One Love’ that saw the light on Sean Puffy Combs‘ Bad Boy Entertainment label. Another disaster as a matter of fact. Not only because of the poor results it generated at the end. But also because of a disagreement with Combs during its recording. Ricky Bell revealing in an interview that Combs had refused to pay New Edition‘s long time producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for a track that the group wanted on the album. With Combs reportedly telling the group they were over budget. This bringin’ New Edition to ask to be released from their Bad Boy contract.
This would be their last album to date. This despite rumors of recording new material. With the band keepin’ on touring, eventually welcoming Brown back. Then contributing to a new song with New Kids On The Block called ‘Full Service’ for their album, ‘The Block’, back in 2008.