If you’re someone who remembers the 80’s and 90’s you know you grew up with The Keatons (Family Ties), Conners (Roseanne), Huxtables (The Cosby Show), Seaver (Growing Pains), Simpsons (The Simpsons) who haven’t aged at all, even Pebbles and Bam Bam got married and had kids, Matt Groening. New Edition is one group that really grew up right in front of us, the dudes dropped their first album in 83’. In 88’ they dropped a new album and had a new member Johnny Gill. If you’re like me you liked New Edition since the Candy Girl days. They seem like our version of The Jackson Five but less poppy to a degree. New Edition dressed like regular dudes on the street as opposed to many R&B groups back in the days, they always seem like dudes you’d see around the way. So when Heart Break dropped I was all over it like many other people were. It was 88’ and being a Hip Hop dude 88’ for me means Juice Crew minus Shan really taking over, Ice-T, Too Short, N.W.A. Posse, anyone else remember that album?, Lyte and Salt-n-Pepa, BDP, Rakim and Public Enemy second albums being the shit. So when I think of Al B. Sure and Bobby Brown sliding that mix long with New Edition it makes me think it really was a great year music wise.
The one thing I do remember is how the first single “If It Isn’t Love” video showed in a subtle way the comeback mentality the group had. The song was catchy and wasn’t my favorite song by any means on the album. The album it self was good back then, now it’s not as hot to me. The sound is too pop/snyth sounding for my taste. I know Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were handling the production and we all know the year before they made Janet Jackson a super star with Control. The sound looking back now was still grounded in R&B and Hip Hop but it still comes off with a pop appeal to it. The first track the “Introduction” is just corny now and “That’s The Way We’re Living” sounds like an odd leftover from the Control album by Janet Jackson and they found some lyrics to fit the beat. I mean the song is corny as hell, a guitar riff comes in during the bridge out of nowhere, really I never saw that coming or a reason for it. One song that isn’t good but if it had come out during the time Primo and Pete Rock were in their prime or even now would kill it is “Where It All Stated From”. My reason is because both men, Pete Rock and Primo, would have just let the singing go and kept the adlibs and scratched the groups old songs up over a ill ass beat. The song really wasn’t needed but I do like how the old songs are slid in their to remind people just how N.E. have been putting it down.
The song that sounds good now and even still sounds dated a bit is “N.E. Heartbreak”, the version that was used for the video is much better than the album version. The only good part of the album version is Gill gets to really get his shine in the end, from the 3 min mark Gill takes over til the end of the 5 minute plus long song. Besides ‘Crucial” everything from “N.E. Heartbreak” til the end of the album is great. One of the better the songs the old school snyth sound with pan drums really work is “You’re Not My Kind Of Girl”. I could see why this was made as the second single because it may be the one song beside “Can you Stand The Rain” where all the elements comes together flawless. Ricky, Johnny and Ralf all get to shine and do they adlib thing in the end and it comes off good. Now there are four slow jams on here and one is just corny as fuck even if it is sincere, “Competition” I read it was written by Ralf Tresvant talking to Bobby Brown. The other three slow joints are good even though no one really remembers “I’m Coming Home”, it still is great even if it too sounds like a leftover from the Control album that was made to fit N.E. Then you have hands down two of the groups’ better songs in general, “Can You Stan The Rain” and “Boys To Men”. Both songs are flawless hands down the two best songs on the whole damn album. It could be cause Johnny Gill was the lead on both of them and it seems the songs needed his vocals upfront, those songs could have been odd with Ralf handling them.
Heart Break was considered a comeback album and it was chart wise but as the official break up and solo endeavors showed we love New Edition and were willing to ride with them regardless, I mean I fucked with Bobby Brown hard too. There was a lot of growth showcased on this album and the transition from kiddy group to grown men came off with little missteps. This is that album to cop if you’re a New Edition fan.